1. Why do you need to let go?
In order to answer that, you need to know what letting go really means. A function of something always rises to the surface when it’s really clear what it is. Herein lies the beauty of being creative. If I give you an object without any explanation, you will investigate it, come up with a ‘what it is, together with a function’. I can give you a golf ball, but if you don’t know golf, then you might see it as the perfect key hanger.
Letting go in the context of this article is giving or taking distance from the object that you are looking at. It means that, whatever it is (human or not), you can let it be just the way it is. And by that, the function of letting go becomes clear: it allows you to no longer fight or give resistance to something that is the way it is. Does that mean you can’t do anything about it? No, not at all. As you will see, letting go will give you the opportunity to see if it is even possible to change the situation. And when you can, letting go will allow you to make the decision of doing something about it or not. Even more importantly, it will make you to see the situation clearer, with greater understanding, showing you the perfect way of how you can do something about it. And that is why you need to master the skill of letting go.
There are 3 different situations that can occur in which you are stuck:
- Stuck on a physical level (environment, structure)
- Stuck on a mental level (beliefs, strategy)
- Stuck on an ‘inter-acting’ level (habits, communication, network)
If you don’t know what I mean with the words between brackets, find out more here: the conscious model).
2. How to let go
As Einstein already pointed out: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it”. When you are stuck on some level, use the other levels to come up with a solution.
Stuck in the physical level
You are in your car, driving from work to home and you are in a pretty good mood, standing in front of a red traffic light. You daydream of how you will surprise your wife with a self made dinner. Two seconds later, you are brutally awakened out of your pleasant day dream because somebody is honking madly and you see a red faced man waving his fists in the back mirror. ‘What the f..!!’ You become pissed yourself and scream back in the car, even though he can’t hear you, when he turns in a side street. You continue the road and when arriving home, thoughts from making dinner are long gone and forgotten. Instead, your bad mood isn’t over yet and spoils the rest of the evening. What a difference…
This is an example of how you can be stuck on a physical level. What happened here? You got stuck the moment you felt the emotions because of the honking of the guy and couldn’t let go of that. Looking back on it, it seems a stupid thing to do, yet a lot of people get trapped into this. The image of the situation is being repeatedly displayed in your mental mind, in a loop, accompanied with the emotions that make you feel the way you do, affecting all of your future actions.
How to overcome being stuck in a physical situation:
The level that follows the physical one, is the strategic one. This means that a solution for being stuck on a physical level, is to be found in your mental thoughts. You need to become aware of the following:
- How do I look at this situation?
This will give you an insight in ‘why’ you are having the kind of emotions that you are having. It will also already create a distance from the feelings that you are experiencing, as you contemplate them instead of being them (and acting upon it). By becoming more aware of your thinking pattern, you might start to realize yourself that it really isn’t helping you in any way. This is where the next question comes in:
- Can I physically do something about the situation to improve it?
This question is a tricky one. There’s always a good explanation that you can find for giving somebody the f* finger when he honked at you. But that might not be very helpful and might make things even worse. In case of the guy that honked at you, there’s nothing really that you can do about it: the honking has been done. So in this case, the answer is no. Why would you continue spending energy in something that can’t be undone? Pure waste of energy.
What if the answer is yes: say your child is ill and prevents you to go to work. There’s nothing you can do about your child being ill, but you can still make a plan and act upon it. You can pick up the phone and communicate that you will work from home. However, a lot of people get stuck in the same situation, not allowing them to think clearly. Result: forcing circumstances, being stressed out, racing on the road desperate to get the child to the grandparents and then racing to work. No need for. How do you look at the situation? Check your thoughts, calm down in the process of doing that, see clearly how the situation is and change it. Make a plan when the situation is clear and act upon it.
- Might it happen again in the future?
If so, than the plan you made for solving a certain situation, is something that you can re-use. That’s called a strategy. If not, than not much energy should be invested and the attention can be used elsewhere.
Physical ‘letting go’ is all about acceptance. If you can accept the situation, which is mostly done by taking distance and contemplating how you feel & think about the situation. Next step is to take the right actions which will become clear when it’s clear that something can be done about the situation.
2. Stuck in the mental level
First of all, how can your recognise that you are stuck on this level? It might not be as clear as in a physical situation. When you are stuck in the mental level, you are having thoughts that are about the past or about the future. It’s also what you can call ‘beliefs’.
You have a chance for a promotion, but last time there was a chance for a promotion, you didn’t get it. Your partner, who is far less competent in your eyes, got the promotion and you started believing that you will never get promoted. Now there’s a new chance for that, but your belief about it, might sabotage the whole thing.
When you are stuck in the mental level, you need to check the ‘network’ level or the ‘physical’ level to find a solution for this. When you believe something, you consider that to be true and that might not always be the case. When you experience the opposite, then your belief will be inevitably change and you will let go of these restricting thoughts.
There are two ways of communicating in this physical world, so there are two ways of letting go of your thoughts:
- Communicating verbally with an expert, an authority, person involved,…
- Acting (like doing) and experiencing the result that disproves your thoughts.
Being stuck in the mental level, is all about trust and believing. It’s about (self-)confidence that something is right or wrong. When you talk with someone who you have trust in, his or her opinion will matter to you and so you will accept their perspective as true or not. If you want to build confidence in something, find yourself a coach that you have trust in. Otherwise working together carries no value and will lead to nothing.
When a coach is not available, then another way is really acting (against the belief) so that you give yourself the chance to prove the opposite. Please note that finding an ‘act’ that might prove you wrong is not always easy to do yourself. You are biased and only total honesty and really wanting to prove yourself wrong are necessary to find the right action.
Being stuck in the mental level is all about learning. It’s where fear and a lack of confidence play a big part in not letting go. Letting go can be achieved by overcoming those. Communicate with someone who you think is an expert on the topic or act so that you experience the opposite of what you hold as true.
3. Stuck in ‘inter-acting’ level
Just to be clear, inter-acting is all about communication: it can be verbal communication (talking, book, video, …) or it can be non-verbal communication (acting, doing, experiencing). To be stuck in this level deals means dealing with habits. You ‘always’ talk and react in the same way when you are in a certain situation or you always act the same in a certain situation.
Imagine that your employee calls in sick. You automatically sigh and ask him or her how long. You don’t ask about the health or how he or she is doing. Or.. You have the tendency to go smoke whenever a colleague goes out the door to have a cigarette. You notice that actually you don’t want one at that moment, but still you go for one.
When you are caught in this level, the key towards a solution is to be found in the physical level. Raising awareness of certain parameters can only be done when the inter-acting occurs: in the present moment = in the physical level. Things to look for:
- How do I act/communicate?
- When do I act in such a way?
- Which context?
Habits are extremely context depended. You need to become aware what triggers you and how you really go about and feel whenever you communicate in that situation. These insights are needed to make a mental plan (step 2) to overcome the trigger or to replace it with a new way of doing things. This actually means that you need to make peace with the habit first, before you can change it.
Too many times, people go to drastic in overcoming habits, which is asking too much energy to be successful in the long term. This world that you and I are living it, is consuming energy (and willpower) at a constant rate. Getting to know the habit and making peace with it, will solve the energy problem and make you motivated to change it step by step.
Being stuck in the inter-acting part is all about having peace with it. Get to know it as part of you. Letting go of it will happen automatically once you really start to see where and how it occurs. A masterful and very personal strategy will be distilled from that, without you spending all of your willpower and highly needed energy in there.
3. The bigger purpose of letting go
In the first part of this article, you saw how letting go allows you become unstuck. There are three different levels that allow letting go: the physical world, your mental world and your inter-acting in the form of habits.
When seeing these 3 levels as one, you become a general picture of letting go:
Acceptance – Learn – Peace
Accepting a situation, is the stepping stone you need to learn from it. Once you learned from it, you will find peace in it. This will allow you to let it go without anything holding you back. When you are able to let go, you are prepared for the next thing that will come into your life. Know that nothing new can come into your life, when holding on to what is, might be or even might have been.