Lighten your load: Letting go

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need. – Tao Te Ching

Letting go. It’s a hot topic among therapists, clients, friends, and family. Often times whether it’s on a subconscious or conscious level, there are emotions that we need to let go of in order to move forward and achieve the happiness that we all deserve.

Emotional baggage is a term used to describe the negative emotions that are carried around with us on a daily basis. Negative emotions are often gathered through the years and stuffed into our “mental suitcase” that we carry.

You can always tell a difference between a person that has a heavy “suitcase” with them versus someone who’s suitcase is light. I can always tell in the eyes and the face. When your emotional baggage is heavy, there is no longer a light in your eyes. Perhaps you’ve struggled with an addiction or mental health condition and it has taken over.

When a person becomes so accustomed to carrying around excess negativity, it becomes who you are. Negative emotions have an interesting way of wearing a person down and eventually taking over if you are not careful. People begin to identify with the negative emotions of anger, sadness, and or anxiety and it becomes the very thing that you put out into the world. 

I think back to a time when I was working at an inpatient acute stabilization hospital and a very angry woman came in. I’ll admit that her rage was so thick that even I had to check myself on my own fears of her. I can remember sitting with this woman, in an effort to just let her know that I was supportive and would not run away from her anger and consequently, feeling exhausted afterwards. Anger has a way of sucking the energy out of the room and out of the person who is experiencing it.

So there I sat. And listened with unconditional positive regard to the anger coming from this woman. She had had quite the injustices occur in her life—various events that were completely out of her control. Yet she had persevered and was still here today. I pointed this out just as we were ending our meeting for the day.

The next day, I noticed she seemed calmer. It was almost like the air had gone out of her sails and she was in a different place mentally. She began to talk and amazingly became tearful when she was able to recognize the strong impact of her anger on everyone around her. She made a statement that she had always been an angry person and recognized now that she used anger to keep people away despite feeling desperately lonely and unsupported. The aha! moment had occurred.

To let go is to release the images and emotions, the grudges and fears, the clingings and disappointments of the past that bind our spirit. – Jack Kornfield

When we hide behind our negative emotions, there is a reason for doing so. Whether it is keeping other people at arm’s length, trying to appear larger than life, or to elicit sympathy from others—there is always a reason why we behave the way that we do.

The power is when you recognize how and why you use negative emotions and decide to make steps to change.

Courage is the power to let go of the familiar. – Raymond Lindquist

Letting go can be scary. However, in order for changes to occur, there has to be a shift in identity and the way that you may be currently living your life. Take inventory of how you interact with others and how you feel about yourself.

If you could describe who you are with 5 words, what would they be?

What do you need to change about yourself in order to be happy and fulfilled?

You’ve got to make a conscious choice every day to shed the old – whatever “the old” means for you. – Sarah Ban Breathnach

Use affirmations to get on track with who you are and what emotions you want to put out to the world. Choose happiness because you are deserving of it. Everyone makes mistakes at one point or another but this does not mean that you have to internalize those negative emotions and allow them to take control.  

Live, learn, and move forward. The only person you can control is yourself. Try letting go of that excess emotional baggage that may be weighing you down. I give you permission 😉

 

Wishing you happiness and a “light suitcase” today and everyday,

 

Rachel Ann

 

 

What purpose are your thoughts serving you? 5 ways to check in and change them

Almost every time that I attend a yoga class, I’m asked to check in with myself on this very question. And almost every time, I am able to think about some of the daily thoughts that go through my head and nix out certain ones that aren’t serving me a healthy purpose!

Whether you want to admit it or not, there is always room for improvement when it comes to daily living and thinking.

Our thoughts have a direct impact on our actions. If you are crippled with anxiety then the results will be manifested in your daily choices. Maybe you decide not to go out to lunch with your friend because you’re worried about navigating through traffic to arrive there. Maybe you aren’t able to start on that work or school assignment because you’re experiencing paralysis by analysis.

Thoughts are very important. Examining your inner self-talk is the first way to understand what purpose those pesky negative thoughts are serving you.

1. When you wake up in the morning, check in with yourself each day.

Take a mental inventory of what is going through your mind. Are you berating yourself for eating that extra piece of pie last night? Are you worried about the lunch meeting? Identify what is going through your mind to cause the discomfort.

2. Ask yourself—what benefit am I getting from having that anxiety/negative thought about A, B, and or C?

How will that positively serve me throughout the day. Let’s think back to the person who is upset with themselves about eating the extra piece of pie. Instead of giving up on healthy eating for the day, use that feeling of angst to propel you to make healthier eating choices throughout the day. Skip out on the bread at lunch and go with a salad. Do you see what I mean? Use those negative thoughts to make positive choices.

3. Examine the self-talk.

What you tell yourself in your own mind will manifest itself daily. We all have self-talk. We all have preconceived notions about what is going to happen throughout the day—some people have the notion that ‘no one will like me’ while others may have the notion that ‘I can’t wait to see who I will be working with today, maybe I’ll meet a new friend’. If you are experiencing negative self-talk, identify what those messages are and work proactively to counteract against them. Examine where those messages have come from and consider the source.

For example, I work with many women who have come out of an abusive relationship. Some have stayed for 6 months, others for 5 years or longer. These lovely ladies have received all kinds of messages from their abusive partner that have negatively impacted their self-talk. Much of our work is identifying the negative messages that their partner has implanted in their minds and listing reasons why they are untrue, and replacing them with positive messages that are true.

Telling yourself that ‘no one will ever love me’ is essentially a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead of constantly allowing that message to pass by in your brain, replace it with ‘I love myself’ or ‘I choose to love myself’.

4. Be kind to yourself.

Some people believe that they are undeserving of receiving kindness from others, being in a healthy relationship, etc. Instead of focusing on being on the receiving ends of external kindness, start with being kind to yourself! Work from there. People are fallible. They will have good days and bad days—sometimes another person will go out of their way to be nice to you, sometimes they won’t even speak to you. The common denominator in the equation is you. If you can learn that kindness starts from within, then you will save yourself a lot of heartache that can come from depending on others to provide kindness for/to you.

5. Seek out a therapist to assist you in identifying your self-talk and where it comes from.

Therapy is what I do, so of course I believe that a skilled therapist can help a person with their self-growth exponentially. If you are still struggling with changing your self-talk and thoughts, then seek out a trusted mental health professional to help you with this process. Change can be very difficult, especially if the things that you need to change are deeply engrained in who you are as a person. The very act of talking about what ails you is healing. That release, or cathartic experience, is freeing in itself. You don’t have to do everything on your own, seek out assistance if you have noticed that your self-talk and thoughts are negatively impacting your ability to carry out activities of daily living.

Tying it all together…

I have said it before, but definition is clarity. Experiencing the aha! moments about why you are thinking and acting the way that you are is beneficial to your mental health and daily living.

Thoughts only have as much power as you allow them to.

Understanding what purpose your thoughts and self-talk are serving is the beginning of understanding what must change in order for you to be the best version of yourself that you can be.

Wishing your freedom to understand and thrive today and every day,

Rachel Ann