Can You Truly “Let It Go”? + 5 Clearing Exercises

When was the last time you felt churned up and raw about something that happened? Something you wished you could simply “let go”?

Kate irritatedMaybe it was…

• a comment someone made that you can’t stop replaying in your head.
• a time of transitions and unknowns.
• a conversation that took a wrong turn and left a pit in your stomach.

There are certain instances that take up space in your thoughts and your heart and cast a shadow over everything. No matter how much you try to distract yourself, or how many times you tell yourself to ‘let it go,’ the unsettled feeling stays.

I had an experience this winter when I was trying to schedule a booksigning at a bookstore I know and love. The event coordinator was downright rude, and I got majorly irritated with her and the situation—the details are trivial now, but I was perturbed. My agitated emotional state colored a good three days (that’s a photo I took of myself during that time up top).

People often confess that they wish they could “be more Zen,” but no one, no matter how much they meditate, goes through their entire life without getting their buttons pushed. You can get more adept at dealing with irritations, but you can’t stop them completely. You’re still human.

It’s important to remember that there are two things causing your pain—the thing itself, and your thoughts about the thing. You can’t control the thing itself, but you CAN work with your thoughts. And the best way to do that is to get them out of your head so you can see them more objectively.

So, how do you do that? Here are five clearing exercises to help you get there:

  1. Get out the ole journal and write down everything you’re worried about, afraid of, or irritated by. Put it all down, so you can see just how much you’ve been carrying it around. Getting it on to the page will help you get some distance from them—they aren’t inside you anymore, swirling around. They are contained on the page, and that is a big relief. Then—and this part is crucial—draw a big X through all of your fears and complaints and then write a couple of sentences you know to be true, such as: I have people who love me. I know how to draw good things to me. I ask for help when I need it.
  2. Write an angry letter to whomever is involved in whatever you wish you could stop thinking about. DON’T HOLD BACK! Saying it here makes it way less likely that you’ll need to say it anywhere else. By giving voice to your feelings, you’ll create some space in your mind so that your wiser thoughts will have a chance to rise to the surface. To take it a step further, dispose of the letter in some satisfying way—burn it, tear it up into little pieces, throw it into a natural body of water for the fishes to eat… This isn’t about the other person reading what you’ve written. This is about you giving yourself what you need to feel some peace on the matter so you can respond instead of react.
  3. If talking works better for you than writing, ask a friend to simply listen, and state your intentions before you just start venting: “I want to tell you these things so that I can get them out of my head and hopefully get some perspective on them so I can feel better—I don’t want to get in to a bitch-fest.” It can be very healing to know that an actual person is hearing you, if you can trust that person not to indulge in feeling sorry for you, or getting ticked off on your behalf. You need to be heard, not fixed.
  4. Once you’ve relieved your mind a bit, try one of these four simple physical moves (this links to a video on YouTube I made just for you) to really get it out of your body—one from qigong, one from yoga, one borrowed from kids, and one natural human movement that you probably haven’t done in far too long. Get the issues out of your tissues!
  1. And when you’re through with these, look for the lesson. Life doesn’t send us difficult times without wrapping a gift inside them. It’s there, I promise you. Always.

What do you do when you need to move through an uncomfortable feeling? I’d love to hear. Leave a comment below.

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