Last week I learned that my son’s BFF is not going to join him in second grade this year.
My heart was breaking for Griffin because he’s been talking all summer about how he can’t wait to be in class with Will again.
But when he found out, he bowed his head, was quiet for a moment, and then said, “I’m disappointed Will won’t be with me in second grade, but we can still play together in the playground and after school.”
I’ve often found it hard to let go in the face of some disappointment, but if he can let go with that much ease and grace, I’m inspired to follow his example.
Holding on to things like stress, worry and anxiety are easy habits to form, but often hard to break. And yet it’s essential that we break that “holding on” habit — not only for our own well-being, but for the good of our loved ones and the world at large.
Here are some suggestions for how to do it:
- Choose how you want to feel.
Remember: You decide how you want to feel, and nobody has the power to make you feel otherwise without your consent. So, do you want to feel happy, loving, generous, peaceful, content, joyous, and/or calm?
Naming the feeling you want to have isn’t always enough, however, especially if you know you will go into a challenging situation soon.
At those moments, take a short break to breathe and center yourself, and use any technique you think will work to truly capture the emotion you want to feel. I do something called “Tapping my inner Oprah,” but you can imagine how anyone you admire would be in the situation you’re facing.
Another approach is to “make your decisions from where you want to be.” Do you want to be a successful entrepreneur? Then start making decisions according to how that successful entrepreneur would act.
- Envision the outcome you want.
If you’ve walked into a challenging situation (or one has walked in on you), it can be hard to see how you’ll get through it. But the best way to do that is to figure out how you want things to be on the other side.
It’s very important to plan for what you want to have happen, and then get to the “feeling place” of having already achieved it. Really allow yourself to imagine how great it will feel when you get the outcome you want!
On that score, here’s a great tip I got from when Marie Forleo interviewed Brendon Buchard: Check in every 3 hours and ask, “Where shall I focus my thoughts right now?”
So when something unpleasant comes up, set a timer for three hours: when it goes off, ask yourself “so where am I headed, again?” This will help you recover your sense of direction during stressful times, and ensure that you’re consistent in pursuing your vision of how things ought to be.
VERY IMPORTANT: Share your vision with your family or friends — whomever you see as your support network — and ask them how they would like the time you have together to look, too. Invite them to do the same process I outlined above.
- Let Go of needing the outcome to look like you envisioned.
If you don’t get the outcome you want, it just doesn’t matter. All you can control is your part of it (#1 and #2). Establishing that control is huge, and you will feel the benefits of it immediately.
First of all, it just feels good to know you’ve done your part. Imagine, too, how great it is going to be to know you didn’t get triggered during a very challenging time, and think about the ways your success will benefit every part of your life!
Do that often enough, and you’ll find yourself shooting down stressors before they crop up, which will probably lead to you getting more of the outcomes you want, possibly without you even noticing that you had to do something to make them happen.
- Choose Peace over Conflict.
If you do get triggered, try to cultivate the observer. Try to take a deep breath and count to 10. Try cocking your head to one side (maybe only in spirit if you’re still in the middle of a conversation) and say, “Hunh. That’s interesting.”
Also, try to think, “I know how I would have responded in the past. I would have said something petty. Now I’m going to take care of myself. My peace of mind is more important than this exchange or any outcome I hoped for and am now not getting. I’m now ending the exchange — a quick, ‘Okay, I’m going for a walk now.’ will suffice, and I will take a walk or call a friend and get my peace of mind back.”
Now, stop reading and say those phrases to yourself. Or write them down on a post-it note and put them in a place where you’re likely to see them at a non-stressful time, like bedtime. That way, you’ll have them ready when stress does come up.
- Take Care of Yourself First.
I think women — because we are healers and caregivers — have learned a “peace at any price” way of being in the world.
We subjugate our own needs for those of others. We think that if we just care enough and do enough, everyone (including ourselves, but really we’re last on the list) could be happy. And that doesn’t work so well: when we deplete and denigrate ourselves, no one benefits.
So create a new paradigm: take care of yourself first. Come from a place where you know that when you care for yourself exquisitely everyone benefits.
Remember, learning to let go is a habit you cultivate daily. You can’t do anything about the others in your life, but you can create the conditions for the quality of your life by choosing how you respond to others, getting clear on what you want, letting go of your attachments, and taking care of yourself.
What’s one thing you can do for yourself today and every day that will mean taking care of yourself? Make sure you are getting some time alone every day — preferably early in the day — to exercise, meditate or write in your journal.
Share what you plan to do in the comments!
If you liked this post, I think you’ll enjoy the free weekly Special Delivery eZine. Just sign up here and it will be delivered to your inbox every Tuesday!