The MAGNIFICENCE of Giving Up

There are a couple types of letting go.  I wrote a couple weeks ago about letting go of the past in Letting It Go an Loving Yourself Through It.  In that post, I talked about not letting dark and painful memories or abusive people control you, and how it’s okay to love yourself and let other toxic people go in the process.

In this blog, I want to talk about another type of letting go.  I want to focus on something that I struggle with a lot in my daily life and something that I think I still work on almost every day and that’s letting things go in every day situations.

When I was in high school and college, I struggled a lot with anxiety over this or that assignment or thing I had to do.  My anxiety is still an issue, but most of the time, I can control it through controlled breathing and double-checks on my thoughts.  There are days, though, that it gets away from me, and back then it would get away from me all the time.  Finals were always the worst.

Towards the end of my college career, I had to write and defend a senior undergraduate thesis.  Mine was on the use of the ABCA12 gene in the determination of congenital ichtyosises.  Mouthful, right?  Well, it was a huge deal because we had to pass this class to graduate and we had to make a certain grade and present in a certain amount of time with our paper and defense to pass the class.  We’re talking 5 minutes over/under and you drop to a C.  INTENSE.

So naturally, I was freaking out to all hell.  One professor, who use to drive me up the wall because she expected more from me than other students (not lying.  A student ahead of me would ask a question, she’d give them the answer exactly.  I’d ask a question, she’d tell me where to go find the answer.  Hated it then, but now I don’t.), told me, “Kel, you have to learn to let go.  You’ve done everything you can to prepare, right?  You’ve worked on your paper, your presentation, you’ve practiced?  You’ve gone over what you’re saying and your peers have quizzed you on the material? Yes? Then that’s all you can do and you can’t stress about it anymore.  The rest of it is all really out of your control.”

Her words ring through my mind every time I start feel myself stressing out or getting overwhelmed.  I hear her in the back of my head say, “Calm down. It’s okay.  You’ve done everything.”

Here’s the cold hard truth of the matter: you can only control yourself.  You can only control how you react to the things that happen to you.  You can only control how you feel and think about situations, people, etc.

You cannot control the actions of other people.  You cannot stop them from saying or acting certain ways to you.  You cannot stop them from doing something you don’t want them to do or get them to do something you want them to do.  You cannot make people change.  You can’t control what they think or how they feel.

I’m really starting to get into what everyone seems to be calling the Law of Attraction, which I don’t really call it that, but I guess that’s a valid name.  It basically says that how you think will manifest itself in your life.  If you think positive thoughts, positive things will happen to you.  If you think negative thoughts, negative things will happen to you.

It’s saying that rather than saying, “I don’t want to be late to work,” we should say, “I want to be/will be on time to work.”  When we use negative language (can’t, don’t, won’t, shouldn’t, never), we are actually focusing more on the negative than the positive, which then draws that to us.  If we focus on more positive language (can, do, will, should, always), we start to attract more positive energy to us.

Basically, if you wake up in the morning and you stub your toe… if you focus on that bit of negative that happened that morning, the rest of your day tends to spiral out of control into a negative series of events, but if you stub your toe and then just move on and recenter on being positive, the day will improve from there.

The local UU minister here posted on Facebook the other day saying, “Maybe, and I could be wrong about this, when we stump our toe, it is the universe crying out to us that nine toes aren’t stumped, ten fingers, two elbows, one nose, one noggin, two knees. Look around at the bigger picture.”

So how does someone do this?  It’s incredibly hard, but the results can be magnificent. Please be aware that this has worked for me, but it may not be the path for everyone.

1) Prepare to be completely 100% honest with yourself.

For you to be able to take steps towards letting the every day go, you have to be able to be honest with yourself.  If you haven’t been honest with yourself in the past, being open to being honest with yourself might be the first hardest thing you see.  This step means realizing things about yourself that you may not like when you see them.  This step means understanding that when you see those things about yourself that you don’t make excuses so you can push all that back away again.  This step means knowing it’s OKAY to have parts to you that might be “ugly,” and knowing that this could help you work through those things and come to terms with them.

2) Recognize your emotions.

Stress. Anxiety. Fear. Confusion. Frustration.  These are emotions that tell you that your body is thinking negative thoughts.  Our emotions are caused by our reactions to our thoughts.  Negative thoughts breed negative emotions.  Being open to your emotions allows you to recognize when these thoughts are coming into our brains.  We might not always know when we are thinking these negative things because we’ve become so accustomed to thinking this way that it just happens… kinda like breathing.

3) Figure out the situations where these emotions happen.

When you start to feel anxious or stressed or confused or frustrated, stop and look at your situation.  Where are you? What are you doing? What about this situation is making you feel this way?  Maybe write this down so you can think about it later or keep track to see if it happens again.  In fact, keeping a journal in this process may actually be really helpful for you.  You can write down quick notes about the situation and the emotions you are feeling and then maybe come back to the journal later that day before bed to process and journal about number 4.

4) Pinpoint the thoughts that you have about the situation.

This is where you start getting into it.  What about the situation from above is making you feel this way?  There is going to be a lot of negativity in this section, and that’s okay.  If you’re being honest with why these situations make you feel the way they do, then you’d expect some negativity.  It’s okay to be negative here.  The idea is that you recognize and understand that bad thoughts, so it’s best to get them out.  Write them down or think them over.  I’m a big advocate of writing, which is why I go back to that.

5) Figure out ways to change those negative thoughts into positive thoughts.

If you can’t change something from “I don’t want to be late” to “I will be on time,” you could change the outcome to something more positive.  What outcome are you looking for? “I will do well in my class.”  “My presentation will run smoothly.”  “I will be able to pay for my bills.”  Find ways to turn the situations into positive ones and stockpile those thoughts for later.

6) When the feelings come back, start thinking the positive thoughts you created.

After you have your stockpile, you can start to pull from it when you start to feel yourself experience those emotions.  Nervous about a meeting or an interview?  “I have prepared the best that I can, and I will present the best part of me available”  Anxiety over a test or exam? “I have studied and reviewed as best I know how, and I will perform on this test to the best of my ability.”

7) Give Up.

Once you have those thoughts firmly in your mind, you have to physically give up those emotions that are holding you back and allow for more positive and calming emotions to enter.  This part, along with part six, takes the most practice.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.  It is really hard to give up on feeling anxiety and stress and confusion and frustration and worry.  It is really hard to let go.  But remember: if you have TRULY done what you say in part six, then whatever happens on the exam or in the interview or that presentation or whatever the situation is is ENTIRELY out of your control.

Think about it: You study and study and study, but the questions on the exam aren’t written by you.  You have no way of knowing what the exact questions are.  You can only prepare so much.  You may buy a brand new suit and practice interview questions, but how the interviewer reacts to you and how she or he feels about you and your possible place in the company is NOT something we can control.

We go through our lives each and every day thinking we have control over things we really don’t have control over.  We may think we we prepare enough… or study enough… or practice enough… or do whatever enough… then we’ll be able to achieve anything and everything, and that is simply NOT the case.

Our chances of success increase with the level of preparing that we do, but we cannot prepare enough to guarantee that job, or that A, or that perfect presentation.  We can only do the best that we can, and then be okay with the results that come out from it.  But the only way to do this is to make sure that we are, in fact, doing everything in our power to prepare ourselves as best we can; otherwise, we fail ourselves.

But if you prepare and do everything you can and it’s still not good enough, that doesn’t mean stop what you’re doing because you failed.  That means that you come to terms with your level of ability at that time and understand that your results are a reaction to your behavior and actions.  It means that we did the best we could, and this is what we got… and if it’s not what we want, we look at the situation again, see where we can work more (that maybe we missed the first time) and then try again.

We are a nation of people that beat ourselves up over ever little shortcoming that we have, and we have to stop.  It’s killing us.  Our lives can be so much more if we only recognize where our limitations lie and work with what we know we can change and affect.

Now, because my faith runs deep, I’m adding these final words:

8) When giving up seems impossible, give it up.

When I start feeling really overwhelmed, like I can’t let go of these emotions.  When I can’t physically give the up and get them out, even with everything else that I’m doing, I stop for a minute and pray.  The Gods will take care of me.  They know that I am faithful to Them, and They will protect me.  It may not be something that comes as a comfort to everyone, but it comes to a comfort to me.  I can give up these emotions because I know the Gods will take care of me.  Everything will work out in the end because I know they are watching out for me.

And they’re watching out for you too.  Just in case you ever wondered.

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Posted on June 26, 2014, in Balance, Faith, Life, Pagan Blog Project, PBP, Religion, Spirituality and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I need to take this advice to heart more. Thank you for the reminder.

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