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In a time where there is little sense of control, we hear it a lot: “Just let it go.” It is often not easy to just let go. Not being able to let go “enough” can lead to excessive stress, anxiety, burnout, chronic fatigue, and other health complications. This article offers support to pick yourself up after a challenging situation or a new perspective on making decisions. After all, we simply can not fully direct and control our own lives.  We can refocus on what gives us energy, and what gives our life meaning to build a life and learn to let go.

The core of learning to let go is to accept the imperfection of life and realistically understanding the limited power you have over true happiness in life. Striving for that power of control in a less desperate, forceful way can help you surrender to more the unexpectedness of life, helping you to become more open to coincidence and fully enjoy everything life throws at you. A positive side effect: it is also better for your physical and mental health. 

Easier said than done. How do you  become more relaxed and grow the self-confidence that comes with letting go? Focus on thinking and feeling. Thinking helps to face reality and to understand what is going on. Feeling and intuition help with unreasonable things. What do I want? What is good for me? Every once in a while, it is essential to ask yourself these questions in all sorts of situations to gain more insight about yourself and make choices that fit you. This approach works best when feeling relaxed and in a supportive environment. 

One way to understand what you want is to know what you do not want or what you want more of. Reflect on your current goals, and more importantly, the goals that you are no longer pursuing. Understanding what makes you happy and gives you energy reduces the need for control and provides more positive mental space. Answer the following questions:

What gives you energy? 

  • Look back on the last week. What are the things that gave you energy?
  • What made you happy?
  • What activities gave meaning to your life? 

What gives your life meaning? 

  • If you could take one thing with you to a remote place, what would it be?
  • If you had more money than you will ever need, how would you spend your time?
  • What thing you never did would you most regret at the end of your life? 
  • What do you want people to say about you and your life at your funeral?
  • What would you do if you only had three months to live?
  • How do you want to look back on your life when you are 80?
  • If you could ask for one wish that could be fulfilled, what would it be?

Build-a-Life

Your option to “build your own life” is to pick from the activities that provide meaning to your life and what gives you energy. Which three options do you add to your current lifestyle? And what are you willing to let go of?  

About the author – Reini Thijssen, BA is a therapist intern with Pacific Mental Health, Seattle. She looks  at personal challenges with an open, supportive, creative, and honest approach to support patient progress. Reini is a multilingual therapist and can treat patients in German, Dutch and English.

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