Do you want to know what makes me want to slowly wrap my pretty little hands around someones neck and squeeze??
This expression and advice, "Just let it go."
Anytime I hear it, after screaming belligerently in my head, I then began to ask the person with the profound and most unhelpful advice, a couple of questions.
"What does letting it go look like for you?" "Where is the fruit of that in your life?"
I ask these as you can imagine from the tenor of the picture I've chosen, with an air of cynicism.
Why? Because I haven't seen it work.
Only on rare occasions of divine intervention, or extreme measures of grace where the hurt or the letting go has been miraculously freed, other than that, what I have experienced and witnessed is that letting go isn't always a choice, but an actionable process.
Now let me clarify why I find this advice most unhelpful. When we tell people to "let something go", 9 out of 10 times we are not only invalidating their experience, but in many regards, we are brushing them off.
If you can't convey with empathy and compassion, along with a practical path for someone to let it go, in my opinion, you should really do yourself and them a favor and shut your mouth.
Why? Because your invalidation only lodges the pain deeper within them and shame becomes the accomplice to assist with that brutal process.
Instead, of telling someone to let it go, say this instead...
"I'm really sorry that has been your experience. Wow that must've been so painful". (This is validating their feelings and experience.)
If we could just stop there, that in itself is healing. Compassion does far more good and healing for that matter, than our advice in these moments.
However, if the person is asking for helpful advice, this is where you show them or offer them the tools that you have used to help you. Encourage them with, "you'll have to listen to your own heart, however this has helped me."
Now that we've set that precedence, I will share with you what "letting it go" has practically looked like for me... you'll have to listen to your own heart, however this has helped me. (you see what I just did there...)
Letting it Go:
Hiking, Breathing, talking to my awesome therapist, sharing with a compassionate friend my pain and experience, listening to music that soothes me or speaks to my experience, being around nature, witnessing beauty (for me it's getting on my Pinterest and looking at beautifully made clothes), getting in front of a mirror and smiling at myself, giving myself a hug and whispering to myself "I'm so sorry you experienced this, you didn't deserve this", getting my nails done, getting a massage, looking at pictures of myself and reminding myself of my greatness, watching a funny movie and laughing, drinking a nice glass of red wine, watering my plants, putting on a pretty outfit, availing myself to grace, making love, reading a good book, singing, getting flowers, loving on another person, taking a walk, working out, telling the people close to me what I need, going to the ocean, asking God to hold me as I cry.....
If you're wondering where the correlation to all of this is in "letting go", I'll tell you.
Letting go can only truly happen when it's met with compassion and understanding. And sometimes (most times) it's a process to be repeated over and over until you "feel" the burden lifted from that heart of yours.
What I have seen in people who force the "just let it go" method, are people who have chosen to do this from their mind and not from their hearts.
How do I know, because the fruit of letting it go isn't always present in their lives.
I look for the pain that they have "let go" and I watch to see if that pain shows up in how they treat themselves and others around them.
Because pain has a funny way of changing how we respond or react to life and the people in our lives.
You've let it go? Great, then that means you show up vulnerably with the people in your life when they address the pain you incurred with that situation right? Because the pain button is gone, so surely you have the freedom to discuss it without walls and a need for deflection right?
I know this sounds harsh, however my attempt here is to show the ramifications of "letting it go" from the mind and not the heart.
When we force people into this blasé type of advice, what we do is create a culture of stuffing, deflecting, shaming and burying. If you wonder how that all works out, look at the increase of mental illness and anxiety and you'll see for yourself.
Let me encourage you with this, the next time you want to tell someone to "just let it go", instead ask yourself "how can I be compassion and understanding for the person in front of me?"
And the next time someone says they've let it go ask them "what did that look like?". And if they said "I just did it, I chose to do it", my advice would be to be mindful of how much you share with them in the future and watch for the fruit of what they let go in their lives.
Does it still trigger them? Okay well wherever they let it go to, it came back and they may want to revisit their "letting it go" process and try a new method.