How to Let Go
Coming up for a blog title for this post was certainly challenging. I just couldn’t seem to find the right words. How to let go. How to let go, and let God. Because that is essentially the inspiration for this post. Let me back track. Years ago, I went through a highly stressful illness. Once recovered, less than six months passed in which I then went a stressful life event. My life was a freaking ball of stress. And I was a mess. A mess! A big old hot mess. And I remember clearly complaining about something to a co-worker. She was deeply religious and devout, and said to me “let go, let God.” And I remember standing there, like some lightbulb had gone turned on in my brain, thinking…of course. Just let go.
And for a while, I was kind of able to shake things off. Just let them go and carry on without care. But honestly, that’s not me. I’m a worrier. I catasphroize. I brood. I cannot turn off that racing mind of mine. So this didn’t exactly work for very long. And even right now, as I write this, I struggle with the concept of letting go. I don’t know how people do this. How things and people just don’t seem to bother some people. It amazes me. How can you not be bothered?
I have to laugh at myself, because I know we are not all the same. I know my anxiety isn’t like anyone else’s anxiety, and I also know that many of you with anxiety are able to relate to what I am saying. For instance, the other day at work a co-worker said something along the lines of “just don’t worry about it” and I recall my friend and I (she has anxiety too) looking at each other like and saying almost in the same breath, “but it’s not that easy when you have anxiety.” You wake up with the clenched jaw, the upset stomach. You go to bed with a mind that is racing and your heart in your throat. You can’t sleep properly. And this happens even when you’re managing your anxiety through self care and/or anti-depressants because sometimes the stress is just too much and it triggers the anxiety that you mostly have under control. So you can’t just not worry. You can’t just let go.
I could say we almost don’t know how. And we really want to, but…we can’t. And it’s so frustrating. I know I’m brooding over things I have no control over. Over something I cannot change. But I cannot stop worrying and brooding and waking up with my lower jaw feeling fused to my upper jaw. I can’t, I just can’t. Because ever since I went back to work in September, it’s been a nightmare. So, how to let go. How do we do this impossible thing that seemingly comes so easily to others?
Don’t Deny Your Emotions
Outraged? Angry? Confused? Sad? You can feel any of these, and all of these at once. Don’t push these emotions down. Don’t buy into the toxic positivity of all the good things you have going for you either. Such as, I have my health. Or, I have a wonderful support system and it will be okay. Sure, those might be true, but that doesn’t mean your stressors aren’t there or are somehow lessened because of these facts. Feel angry. Be outraged. Cry. All of this is healthier than the carry on mantra so many people chant. If it’s not okay in that moment, or that day, it’s okay to express that. I think the more we deny and push away these emotions, the more anxiety can wreck havoc on our bodies.
Ask For Perspective, or Step Outside Your Own Perspective
You know your anxiety is Anxiety with its own voice and abilities to push your buttons. It’s like a sibling that just knows how to get to you. You need a fresh perspective on your stressors from someone else. For example, right now everyone I work with is facing the exact same stressors because we are all teachers teaching in the same school. And yet, not all teachers are dealing with the current uncertainty and constant change and stress the same way. Some of us are panicking and trying to prepare for every scenario we can think of so that we are prepared (so not me) and ready. Some of us are overwhelmed and have no idea what to do so we do nothing (me) while some of us have this entirely mystifying perspective: “enjoy it.”
Yes, enjoy the madness because 2020 is certainly the year where no matter what you do, you can’t really make a mistake that anyone can blame you for, or judge you for making when protocols and expectations are ever evolving and changing. Now, while this may not be true for every stressor in your life, it certainly is a perspective that many of us who experience anxiety would ever conceive of in our anxious minds. It’s a completely different kind of point of view. So it might be useful to talk with some friends or co-workers and gain varying points of view in order to take on a different perspective. Because even though the above viewpoint is one that never would have occurred to me, the instant someone said this, I immediately felt calmer. I can do my best in this crazy situation, and know that I can’t really fail or be expected to have done better because there is no benchmark by which to to be judged. Doing my best is enough. Even if I have no idea what my best might look like, I just need to try. Will others do better than me? Sure, maybe, but then they might have done better than me even if the situation wasn’t crazy because we are all at different places in our experiences and know how, and they might have done better than me anyway.
Don’t Buy Into the Lies Anxiety Tells You
Anxiety lies to us all the time. It tells us all sorts of strange and untrue things. When you are stressed, and tired, Anxiety is especially good at lying to you. Don’t buy into her BS. Have your cry, but don’t walk away from that catharsis believing you can’t do it. Believing your life is awful. Believing it’ll never get better. These are all lies. In an emotional moment, these all seem so true. But in more rational, calmer hours you know they are not, so once that cry session is done and the tears are spent, tell Anxiety you lied. And then do something positive. Write in your journal. Cook an amazing dinner for yourself. Go for a walk. Whatever floats your boat. Be present in yourself though, not in the latest Netflix hit. Being present in yourself is a good way to really let go of that anxiety.
Remember, This is Temporary
Whatever your stress is, it’s temporary. You are not going to be forever stuck with it because change is constant and inevitable. You cannot be forever in the present circumstance. I think part of anxiety is that Anxiety tricks us into believing that it will always be like this and it won’t. Of course if you think it’s going to be like this always you’re going to feel panicked and incapable of coping. I have been there, believing that lie and seeing this horrible life of stress and chaos before me like a black hole waiting to suck me in and it’s not a good feeling at all, but that black hole is not going to get you. Whatever you are going through, it’s temporary. We have to remember this truth when we see that black hole painted by Anxiety.
I hope this post makes sense to you. I am writing straight from my heart, and from experience and I hope that I have conveyed my thinking clearly. It’s hard to take such abstract truths that are emotional and express them so others can understand, but I felt that I needed to share these thoughts with you because if they can help, then why wouldn’t I share? Hopefully I have helped you not be stressed when you really are, as contradictory as that might sound.
Thoughts, questions? Please share in the comments because stress isn’t something we should handle alone.
Thanks for the great suggestions! I find changing my perspective really helps lessen my anxiety.
It’s not easy to do, but it does help.
Really GOOD SUGGESTIONS! I ALWAYS HAVE THAT SAME MINDSET THAT STRESS IS TEMPORARY, ONCE YOU GET INTO A HABIT OF ACCEPTING IT, IT’S SO MUCH EASIER TO MOVE ON.
Thank you! Glad the tips helped.