Why Learning To ‘Let Go’ Is Essential For Your Sanity
Ssshhh, be quiet. It is time to sleep!
I have been known to say this out loud whilst lying in bed – not to quieten a snoring partner or nocturnal flat mate, but because I am infuriated with my mind’s incessant noise. Trying to get it to stop and give me some peace can be a real challenge (putting a pillow over your head doesn’t work and I am not sure why I ever thought it would). When you are programmed to over-analyse and worry, escaping your mind is possibly the most difficult thing to do; it is with you, part of you, and can sometimes defeat you.
Last year I bought some brand new walking boots. Yes, I’m a women who knows how to treat herself. They cost me a small fortune but I was so pleased to finally have a decent pair to go exploring with. I had been looking at them for ages, and ended up buying them in this little specialised shop in the Italian mountains where not a word of English was spoken. You try discussing grip and Gore-Tex in Italian when you don’t speak the language! Nevertheless, we got there and I got my boots. Three days later, our hire car in Pisa was broken into and the a-hole took them. After a stressful day with the Italian police, who were more interested in smoking, we left for the airport, cursing the thief and hoping he would get blisters.
After the initial anger, instead of thinking, “Ah well, that’s annoying but there is nothing I can do, move on”, I could not stop thinking about all the money that had been wasted and how ‘if only’ I had taken them out at the hotel I would still have them. ‘If only’ I hadn’t paid with cash. I couldn’t let it go. But the thief wouldn’t care less, so who was winning here?
Many women are professional over thinkers. ‘If only’ and ‘what if’ are two phrases I want to banish. I’ve heard them uttered so many times: “If only I had got that job, life would be so much better”; “If only they would give me a chance”; “I’m not going – what if I screw up?”; “What if he doesn’t care?”; “What if I do a bad job, I get fired, don’t get any more work, no one likes me, I never find anyone, I fail and everything just comes crashing down and my life is over?”
The problem with a ‘what if’ mindset is that we often think of the worst possible thing that could happen, when actually it is not likely to happen at all. Am I likely to sleep in when I have five different obnoxious alarms set? No. Even if I do, what is the worst outcome? Will someone die? Unless you’re a doctor or your job is to save lives then no, they won’t, so put it in perspective and try not to worry.
We are also assuming we know what other people think. We can’t possibly read minds so there must be a better way of assessing things. If you really want to hear someone’s opinion, ask them: “Did you think my cake was disgusting?”, for instance. If they don’t want to share their feedback then you can’t do anything about what you don’t know. You tried. They don’t want to talk. Move on and keep baking (or maybe ask a few more people in case they are just shy and the cake really was as bad as you thought).
If someone doesn’t want you as part of their project, think fine, I will do it better. If someone doesn’t want you in their lives, it’s their loss. If you have had a shitty day, that sucks, but have a gin (other drinks available), do something you love, stick a record on, dance, watch Game of Thrones, and let it go! Who’s suffering here? Will the person who offended you this morning be worried about you? No. So why waste your energy on them. Will the person who doesn’t want to see you or work with you again be sitting twiddling their thumbs waiting for your call? No. Don’t waste your energy waiting for them either. As the lyrics of one of Florence and the Machine’s new tracks goes, “Some things you let go in order to live”. It isn’t healthy to hold on to things. It is only you who suffers and your energy that is lost.
I’m not saying it is easy and that there aren’t things worth worrying about or fighting for. But the more we practice letting go, the less anxious, upset and stressed we will feel. So next time you find yourself unable to settle your mind, sing that oh so wonderful song from Frozen (not annoying in the slightest) and “Let it go, let it goooo”. Just don’t blame me if you lie in bed with it in your head!