One of my favorite memories of grad school is that of a simple sign that was posted in a small computer lab. It read:
Part of May’s challenge is to “let go.” This is something that has been resonating with me for some time now. As an OCD, research driven, text-book-lovin’, toxin’ fearin’ type gal I have a
You must save your work on your own external flash drive. Do not save it to the desktop as the desk top is cleared each day. If you did not do this you work has been erased.
It’s gone. Let it go.
Don’t eat this! It will kill you!
You MUST eat this or you’ll die!
The battle of knowing what we should and shouldn’t put in our bodies along with all the “science” shoved in our face with all sorts of contradictory advice is enough to make a person want to crawl into a cave and just live out their days in isolation.
But you don’t need to do that. Instead, just let it go.
Let it go.
I’m not asking you to stop trying to live a healthy life. I’m not suggesting you give up on all your goals. No. Keep progressing. Keep moving on your journey towards good health. But please, PLEASE let go:
Let go of the worry that you aren’t doing it “right.”
Let go of the stress and guilt when you feel the urge to splurge a little.
Let go of the belief that you aren’t good enough.
Let go of the idea that you need to look a certain way.
Let go of the fear that you’ll get fat, get cancer, or die young.
Our lives should not be run by worry, stress, or fears. Our motives should not be guided by self loathing or guilt.
Where do these ideas come from?
Lots of places. They come from society. They come from well meaning friends and family. They come from mean people, nice people, confused people. They come from “experts” and doctors. They come from that little voice inside our head that far too often gets a little out of control.
And it’s just not health we are talking here. Maybe you have a fear of being a bad mom. Maybe you have a fear of being a mom, of being judged because you don’t want to be a mom. Maybe you are holding on to bad memories, bad relationships, bad… anything. You get the idea.
Just let go.
Of course, saying “just let go” is a whole lot easier than just letting go. Sometimes our beliefs, words, and actions are cemented by habit. Sometimes these ideas are so subtle and subconscious that we may not even be aware of the sabotage that’s being done. How do we really let go?
May I suggest the following practice:
1. Be aware. Start by being aware of the thoughts that drive your motives. Listen to that ongoing voice that talks to you about how your should act, look, or be. Do you believe it? Should you?
2. Write it down. Write down the thoughts that are stifling your progress. Write down the fears that are immobilizing your motives. This may take some time. Face the words that are keeping you still. See them. Experience them.
3. Replace. Make another list with positive thoughts or helpful motivation. For example, let go of “fear of being fat” and replace it with “joy of a healthy body.” Let go of “afraid of cancer” and replace it with “freedom in the products I use.” Try to find a positive replacement for every thing you’d like to let go of.
3. Let it go. I mean this literally. Do something with the “let it go” list. Burn it. Tear it up. Throw it away. Stuff it in a balloon and let it go off into the wide open air. Let it go. Move on. Keep your positive list in a place where you can see it and revisit all the things you have to gain.
4. Repeat as necessary. Like a pesky weed, sometimes our thoughts have roots deeply hidden. When you feel that voice, that fear, that stress creep back up into consciousness, start the process over. And rather than feel like you are “falling back” into old habits, recognize that progress takes time and that you are a different person today then you were yesterday.
What are you trying to let go of? Feel free to share any of your ideas in the comments below.
(top image by ADA.Marcu, Flickr)