The Art of Letting Go

The Art of Letting Go

Everyone has had their share of terrible experiences. If you’re having a bad day, millions of other people are too. If you’re having a horrible week, millions of other people are too. But for some reason you can’t shake the negative reactions off. You can’t navigate through the emotions that are weighing you down. That’s quite understandable. You probably handle difficult situations differently.

But at some point you have to think that all the trouble you’re in is fleeting. That nasty troll on your blog, the office gossip, job loss, infidelity of your lover, or betrayal of a trusted friend leaves a really bad feeling that tends to linger for a while. Don’t even think you’re too pathetic to be unable to cope with the negative emotions that creep all over you. That’s fine. It means you’re taking your life and your sense of self-worth seriously.

That doesn’t mean, though, you will have to spend the rest of your life brooding. Sooner or later you will have to realize life has more to offer and it’s time to let go.

Letting go helps you declutter your life and your mind.

Bad relationships, unforgiving jobs, and mooching friends occupy a significant portion of your brain and fill your waking time with so much stress. You have two options: keep these elements and endure the trouble they are causing you or let them go and reclaim the balance in your life.

The decision is hard. Perhaps you love your significant other so much that it’s hard to speak to them even if their egomania and selfishness are driving you nuts. It’s probably difficult to quit a good-paying job even if you have to endure long hours and sleep deprivation. Closing your doors to toxic friends is impossible without the internal struggle.

However, you will soon realize that once you let go of things that only weigh you down, you feel lighter and better.

Letting go allows you to see yourself in a fresh perspective.

The trouble with allowing your environment take control of you is you lose your sense of self. You become an object of manipulation. You become a voiceless robot. You lose your identity, and you are reduced to a pebble in a heap of pebbles. There is nothing interesting about being someone’s slave. There is nothing too exciting about living in a monotony. There is nothing creative about routine. Manipulative partners suck your life out of you. Intransigent bosses suck your energy and sanity. Disloyal people make you doubt your image of yourself.

People who succumb to the negative aspects of life tend to question their identities, self-esteem, and intelligence. If you’ve asked yourself why you allowed someone to manipulate you when you were supposed to be a brilliant person or why you gave in to someone’s deception for so long that it made you feel stupid, consider that you may be partly responsible but don’t dwell in blaming yourself. Keep in mind that there are people who take advantage of our humanity or innate goodness. It’s not your fault that you trust, accept, and love – because that’s what makes us human.

Letting go is the key to reclaiming your life.

When you keep manipulative people in your life, you burn the fire that keeps them alive. When you stay in a company that only exhausts you every day, you’re only serving the interests of that company and leaving yourself shortchanged. When you work for an intolerable manager, you’re at the mercy of someone who wants to look good at your expense. When you stick around people who treat you unfairly, you’re wasting precious time you could have spent with people who truly matter.

People stay in these situations no matter how much these situations damage them mentally, physically, and emotionally because they crave for acceptance and belonging. Are you stuck in the situation you’re in now because you are afraid of being alone? Are you afraid of leaving your job because unemployment means you will be kicked out of your apartment after two months? Are you scared of offending a person who has lied to you for so long? Well, you have two choices: either you keep the situation or free yourself.

Your life is as precious as theirs. The relationships you make with people should be rooted in mutual respect. Your environment should complement you, not weigh you down.


Looking at the Bigger

One of the reasons you’re stressed out is because you spend too much time focusing on the details, the little things, and too little time looking at the larger scheme. That is a sure way to get caught up in trivialities. That’s one way to be myopic and lose sight of other things that matter. Not only does being shortsighted waste your energy, but also does it reduce your productivity and cause frustration and disappointment.

Details needlessly eat time and energy.

Small details have their time to be seen. Tasks are after all composed of small chunks of details you need to put up one after the other so you can accomplish a project. But if you’re spending too much time on the tidbits, you’re missing out on seeing your progress in increments. That spells trouble.

If you’re the kind of person who worries too much about minute details, you’re probably that stressed out person who is too busy but not too productive. You see, being overworked and productive are two different things. Just because you spend hours on an aspect of a task doesn’t mean you’re being effective. Instead, you’re only expending an unreasonable amount of energy on trivial matters.

Perfectionism isn’t everything.

Getting every single detail in your life or work or relationships perfect is a recipe for disappointment. Life isn’t about perfection. It is about making each moment count, and you can’t make each moment count when you’re too busy fiddling with tiny bits of information or action. Perfecting these little details doesn’t necessarily translate to perfection of the bigger picture. Just because you have all the best furniture pieces and draperies in the world doesn’t mean they’ll make up a nice, cozy room. See the point? You have to step back and look around if everything makes sense.

What you’re doing is tiring yourself unnecessarily. You’re exhausting your energies without much of a return. You are shortchanging yourself. Drop the aimless need for perfection.

Busy doesn’t mean productive.

Busy people accomplish a huge amount of task. Sometimes that is a good thing. Sometimes you have to examine your activities and see how much your preoccupation is contributing to the overall project, mission, or cause. You can spend hours on writing a letter to send to a local sponsor for a youth-oriented activity. Yes, you can perfect it. You can change the words, the best ones to flatter the sponsor, to persuade them into making a favorable pledge. Or you can draft it in half an hour, have someone else check if it’s all right, and send the email. Then go have a stretch for five minutes before coming back to your desk and drafting another letter for another sponsor.

Some people spend hours in front of their computers chatting with friends on Facebook and spend the remaining hours of the day rushing their paperwork. Writers do this. Office workers do this. Everyone does this. You get tired checking people out on social media, wondering what everyone’s up to. Then you wonder why you have little accomplishment at the end of the day. Think about how many people at work are busy doing things that don’t matter to them.


Mistakes are natural. Mistakes are human.

You want to impress your boss, your readers, or your partner. That’s commendable. But obsessing with tiny details isn’t going to do that. The opposite may be true. Spending too much time on small details may only sap you of your energy only for a plain “thank you,” a pat on the back, or a kiss. Ask yourself if it’s worth a day of mental or physical torment. Chances are, it’s not. You’re probably trying to impress someone. Stop doing that. People who care would be impressed whether you spent an hour or a day creating something for them. They won’t even make you feel bad about petty mistakes. The cookies may be burnt on the edges just a bit, but friends would eat them anyway. They might taunt you for burning the edges, but you could all just laugh it off. At least, you’ll know to turn off the oven earlier next time.

The bigger picture looks fine.

Spend just the right amount of time for each aspect of your life, and everything will just fall into place, filling that large picture with color one by one, one day at a time, step by step. Stop obsessing with perfection. Stop spending too much time trying to fill a tiny area with color and detail, because that is a sure way to kill your time and suck your energy without accomplishing much.

Step back. Look at the whole picture. See your progress – Ending Perfection

You want to do your best all the time. You edit your short story several times, changing the words here and there. You record seven versions of a song because you want to get a certain note right. You change the curtains in the living room ten times because you’re looking for the right color that matches exactly the design of your furniture. You want things to look perfect.

The idea of perfection is appealing. Who doesn’t want to look and sound perfect? Who doesn’t want a perfect job, house, family, or life? But perfectionism seems an ironic construct. How can things be perfect when the idea of perfection is truly subjective? Whose standard of perfection are we trying to meet? What’s so good about perfection anyway that it’s better than imperfection?

Perfectionism is a trap.

You may be more mindful than the rest of us. That’s not bad. If being mindful makes you follow strict diet plans, work hard, and utilize your creative genius, you’re on the right path. But if your mindfulness sucks your reserves for things that have little value, you have to slow down, maybe even stop, and examine your motivations and goals.

The desire for perfection has a domino effect. If you want to perfect an area of your life or job, you logically want everything else to be perfect. Perfectionists don’t want people to see them making mistakes. A cluttered desk doesn’t look right in a clean office. A typo on a letter is an annoying mistake in a folder filled with well proofread documents. Of course, you don’t want to make mistakes. We don’t want to make ourselves look stupid. We want to check everything for even minute errors. But there’s a difference between checking for errors and fixing something that’s not broken.

Perfection uses up a lot of resources.

The time you spend trying to make your getup look good could be time better spent rubbing elbows with associates. Perfectionists have this unreasonable fear of being ridiculed by people, so they spend a lot of time trying to look “perfect.” You’ve changed outfits for two hours and couldn’t seem to make the right decision. You couldn’t seem to decide whether the blue dress is perfect for your diamond earrings and whether it’s perfect for the party’s motif. Or whether you should wear the other blue dress with a lighter hue that seems “perfect” for the night. Striving for perfection uses up a lot of time and energy for things that add little or no value to your life. Your friends are there at the gathering, and they’re more important than your dresses, any of which you could wear and you’d still be fabulous.

Perfectionism is a recipe for frustration and depression.

Either nothing is perfect and you have to deal with that or perfection is relative. Think about this truth. Perfection is really a vague concept. That is why it’s hard, if not impossible, to attain. You want to sound perfect for your audition, so you spend night after night rehearsing. The intention is good. The process is awful. You know what happens to singers who overdo rehearsals? They go hoarse on the day of their performance. You want to talk about vocal fatigue?

What happens to many people who after spending so much of their resources, burning themselves out, realize their efforts weren’t good enough? It’s a recipe for emotional disaster. They feel bad about themselves or their environment or the people around them. Many people just can’t cope with that kind of experience, sulking for years, feeling sorry for themselves.

The motivation for perfection doesn’t come from within.

How many people have tried to look perfect and failed? Millions! That skinny-fat guy who wanted to gain muscle and lose flab has spent two years lifting weights, upping his protein intake, and changing his regimen every 3 months. Voila! He’s still skinny-fat. That girl who wanted to look chic buys the best brands but broke her bank for her boyfriend who would just break up with her.

Some of us do a lot of things not because we want or need them, but because we want to impress other people, oftentimes the wrong people, who either only care about us superficially or don’t really care about us at all. But keep lifting weights; it’s healthy. Keep looking great — for yourself!

Focus on the Breath

You don’t really pay attention to how you breathe, like most people. What you don’t know is that how you breathe affects your wellbeing. Proper breathing is the key to getting enough oxygen throughout your body and getting rid of some of the bad stuff in your system. It helps lower your stress levels. It enhances your workout performance. It helps keep your immune system in top shape.

Proper breathing may be underrated, but it’s a key aspect of relaxation techniques. Deep breathing exercises are recommended for fighting stress and anxiety.

  1. Deep breathing eases muscle tension.
  2. It calms your heart.
  3. It lowers your blood pressure.
  4. It quiets down your brain.
  5. It helps you think better.

You now get a glimpse of why Yoga instructors include breathing exercises in their regimen. In fact, proper breathing is an important technique that’s part of any fitness program. Whether you’re lifting weights or meditating, you need to pay attention to how you breathe.

Note that every cell in your body requires oxygen, an element necessary for cellular respiration. Metabolism cannot take place without oxygen, and insufficient amounts can have drastic effects on how you’re burning your fuel. It makes sense that not getting enough oxygen affects your energy levels. But that’s just part of the story.

Your brain, being a complex organ that it is, needs the right amount of oxygen. While it can compensate certain dips in oxygen levels, it cannot stay within its optimum function, a reality that cannot be underemphasized. The complex neurological processes are affected and, thus, cognitive functions are as well. That’s why at certain levels of oxygen depletion, you can suffer from confusion, brain fog, depression, and symptoms that resemble panic attacks.

Another important function of proper breathing is keeping your CO2 levels within normal. You think it’s just oxygen your body needs? The truth is, your body relies on a balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide to function just fine. Good amounts of carbon dioxide in the body keeps your blood pH within normal. That means if you breathe too slowly, carbon dioxide accumulates in your blood and makes it acidic. If you breathe too fast, you lose too much CO2 and create too much alkaline in your system. Both have negative medical implications, neither of which can help alleviate or prevent stress.

Breathing and stress have an interesting relationship. Improper breathing causes mental and physical stress. Stress, on the other hand, changes the way you breathe. Stress triggers a cascade of biochemical responses to allow your body to fight or flee. If you noticed, your breathing becomes fast, because your body needs more oxygen as it prepares itself for an emergency. That’s occasionally useful. After all, your muscles need more oxygen if you’re fighting an enemy or running away from it. That’s hardly the case of the post-modern human, however. You’re not running away from a predator. You’re not fighting a competitor.

What the common person is suffering from past the age of industrialization is chronic stress, brought about by new challenges that the human body responds to the old way. Chronic stress can put your body in this constant mode of over-compensation. It needlessly causes you to take fast and sharp breaths. It constantly raises your heart rate.

As stress affects breathing, the latter in turn changes the balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood. This change leads to the classic signs of chronic stress:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Dizziness
  3. Sleep problems
  4. Anxiety

There are different ways to beat stress. Ideally, you can remove the stressor or remove yourself from stressful situations. However, that’s not always the practical option. You can’t quit your job today to escape stress if you still have tasks to accomplish or a contract to fulfill.

One of the effective means to deal with stress is change your reaction to it. In fact, modification of your reaction is an integral component of professional intervention done for people who suffer from chronic stress and the anxiety and depression that come with it. If you can’t destroy stress sources today, you can modify how your body responds to them. One way is through breathing techniques that calm the nerves and soothe tense muscles.

There are different techniques to help you quiet down your brain and your adrenals. Some relaxation techniques involve visualization approaches. For instance, you can imagine hot air flowing through your feet, traveling through your legs, to your abdomen, and then filling your lungs. Then you breathe out slowly, imagining the reverse.

Other meditation techniques involve music, slow bodily motions, and deep, rhythmic breathing, which all together reduces pain, eases anxiety, and rejuvenates your mind and body.

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