Feb 11 • 4M

30. Practical Tips For Learning To Let Go

Here are a few ways you can practice the art of letting go.

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If hanging on to prevent disaster is a central issue that helps to fuel our anxiety problems, and learning to let go is central in recovery, then we must practice and build that particular skill. Yesterday we examined the idea that like any new habit, we can learn to let go little by little without jumping directly into the scariest most difficult situations.

Today’s lesson is less about my words and more about making you think.

Take a while and consider ways that you may attempt to control things outside the context of anxiety or panic. How do you hold on in your daily life? What little holding on habits do you carry throughout your day? What things seem just so hard to let go of?

Are you quick to correct things you think are “wrong”?

Do you feel the immediate urge to argue, disagree, criticize or otherwise comment on things you may not agree with on the Internet?

Do you make your daily life choices about things like meals or entertainment only after checking with others to see what they want or like?

Do you resist change in all forms, instead putting your energy into trying to keep things the same all the time?

Do you spend your time trying to stay busy or distracted in an effort to not hear your thoughts or feel you emotions?

These are all common examples of holding on and control habits. Make a short list of yours. There are no wrong answers here. This might take you some time to come up with because our habits are often hidden from us until we really step back and look at ourselves objectively. When you have a few items on your list, think about what you can do to act in opposition to those holding on habits. For example:

Cook a meal without asking your family if it is the meal they want.

Set a timer for 10 minutes. Scroll through your social media feed WITHOUT commenting or telling anyone what you see.

Remain silent when you detect an “error” in something you hear or see. Don’t correct it. If it does not directly impact you, let it be.

Set a timer for two minutes. Sit silently on your sofa and just be, allowing that two minutes to pass in whatever way it passes.

These may seem like silly little changes, but silly little changes add up to big changes over time. These are ways to start letting go, and while they may seem insignificant when you read them here, you may find them challenging when you actually try them. If they are challenging, that’s a good sign. You’re on the right track.

Take some time today to examine your holding on habits, then look at ways that you can start to exercise your “letting go” muscles every day in small ways and in small bits. The more you practice, the more familiar it becomes, and the more confident you will be that you CAN allow the world to just spin without trying to prevent disaster all the time. Becoming an experienced “letting go-er” will matter when you find yourself in anxious and fearful situations where letting go is required as part of your new relationship with irrational fear.

If you want to overcome panic and anxiety, try making something different for dinner tonight without asking anyone if it’s OK to do that. You might be surprised at how that turns out.

We’ll start next week with a talk about knowing what’s best for ourselves, and how that sometimes gets twisted by anxiety.

“Negotiation is not an act of battle. It is an act of discovery.” - Chris Voss

Every Friday I’ll share one of my favorite quotes. They’ll often have direct application in recovery, but sometimes they’re just generally funny, inspiring, or thought-provoking.  I hope you enjoy them.