In this episode, which follows Chapter 4, Section 2: Embrace Letting Go, I share the practical steps to letting go of what no longer serves you. So many people tell you to let go. I show you how. When you listen, you’ll learn:
- My three-step process of letting go
- The absolute necessity of all three steps
- The essentiality of self-compassion
I developed this three-step process when it dawned on me that I wasn’t being gentle with myself. Hopefully, it will inspire you to be gentle with yourself since this is the first step to your healing journey.
The struggle is real
People struggle with letting go and forgiving because they don’t understand what they mean. In this episode, I demystify these concepts and show you how to eliminate the obstacles to using these essential tools along your path to emotional wellness. Firstly, since self-blame is so ingrained into our consciousness, we have to intentionally practice and hone skills in self-compassion.
Then, we must realize that forgiveness is not relieving something for the person who hurt you. Forgiveness is an act of resistance. You forgive because you deserve to heal. You deserve to no longer let the event hold power over you nor define yourself by what happened. You can apply the three steps to letting can be applied to everything you might be holding onto that is hurting you. I can’t wait for you to know and use them and find the freedom to let them go.
“Unfortunately, humans often get stuck and immobilized by guilt and shame. Guilt, shame, and regret have a purpose: to call your attention to the situation. Once your attention is there, you can assess and decide what action to take moving forward: you can repair relationships, make up for something, pay kindness forward, or commit to doing something differently the next time. Then, there is no longer a need for the guilt, shame, or regret. They can go. But getting stuck in the guilt, shame, or regret? That does nothing for you or anybody else around you.” – Dr. Jodi Aman
Listen to Embrace Letting Go episode 4-2:
Resources for Embrace Letting Go
- My Land Acknowledgment Find the Indigenous People from where you are here: native-land.ca
- Energy Shield Training for Empaths
- Teen Courses for Confidence, Intuition, and Relationships
- Omega Zodiac Reading
- Creating Rituals – 6 Steps to Bring More Healing & Success Into Your Life
- Letting Go Like Water off a Duck’s Back
- Five Benefits of Rituals
- Overcome Burnout With These Two Actions That You Need to Take Right Now
Transcription of the Embrace Making Meaning:
Hey, you’re here with Dr. Jodi, and this is Season 4 of “Anxiety… I’m So Done With You!” This podcast is a teen and young adult guide to ditching toxic stress and hardwiring your brain for happiness. If you’re new here, grab a copy of my book “Anxiety… I’m So Done With You!” because this series goes section by section through it, going a little bit deeper, giving more examples, and telling more stories. In this season, which follows Chapter 4, we’re finally focusing on you making peace with yourself.
Because you can’t get rid of anxiety when you’re still being your own worst critic. Most likely, you have been your own worst critic, even though you don’t deserve it. You deserve kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. In this season, I will give you the practical tools to do that for yourself. Thank you for listening, subscribing, and leaving me five stars on Apple Podcasts. Please spread the word about this book and series because mental health problems have dire consequences that inflict more pain on young people, their families, and their communities. And I would be grateful if you could help me turn the tide by sharing these tips for embracing self-love.
Welcome to Chapter 4, Section 2: “Embrace Letting Go”
Welcome to the episode that accompanies Chapter 4, Section 2: Embrace Letting Go.
You’ll learn my three steps to letting go. I foreshadowed this three-step process in earlier sections of the book. If you have been following me for a while, you may have heard them already, so I will try to challenge myself in this episode to give you more so you see it through many different lenses.
First, let me tell you how I came up with these three steps.
There was a time many, many years ago when I had a friend ghost me. It was someone that I was very attached to and texted several. When someone cuts you off, they hold all of the power, which is a big reason that being ghosted is so frustrating. You are hurt by the rejection and then annoyed at not being able to express yourself. We can’t tell the other person what they did and get any validation at all for what they put us through. We want to, but we can’t. It’s like invalidation on top of invalidation. So, not only did I feel rejected, but I felt powerless that I couldn’t tell her how she hurt me. Plus, there was also a void in my day from the time I used to spend massaging her.
In My Head
With nowhere to go, my frustrations stayed in my head, where you and I both know they wreak some intense havoc. It was happening. I went over what had happened, what we last said to each other, and what I imagined telling her so she’d feel bad for cutting me off. This is what a lack of validation can do to a human. The rumination went on for weeks. One day I took the morning off to take a hike. I just need to escape and have a break. This situation took up a lot of my emotional and energetic bandwidth, making me burn out quickly, even in other areas of my life.
As I was hiking the path to a waterfall, I decided that I would stop thinking about this, just put it out of my mind, and move on. It was making me more miserable to have these thoughts tumble around with no resolution in sight. I had to just stop.
This wasn’t the first time that I decided to let go of this. I had been trying, but it wasn’t working. All the way down the path to the waterfall, I kept finding my attention coming back to her, and I would get mad at myself for allowing it back. “Uh! Stop Jodi. What is wrong with you!”
I kept walking
When I got to the waterfall, I lay down on the bank to meditate. At one point, I looked up, and I saw these little football-shaped yellow leaves that seemed to be hovering at the top of the waterfall. They were falling but falling slowly. Because of the pressure of the waterfall, just in front of the waterfall, the air pressure was pushing upwards, so the leaves appeared to be floating. I looked at those leaves and thought, “They are coming down as fast as possible.” What I was noticing was that there was no demand or pressure (no pun intended ) for them to come down. No judgment that they were taking so long.
I thought I would take as long as I needed to take for my heart to heal. I realized that the judgment was making it take longer to get over this. The judgment about still being upset. That judgment, which rejected my allowing myself to feel a regular, appropriate feeling to the situation, made me attach. And that attachment- as I illustrated in Season 1, Episode 1’s globs of worry and negative self-judgment – exponentially increased my emotional turmoil.
I decided to allow my feelings, like the leaves, to “fall” as fast or slow as they wanted to––even if they took a long time. This seems counterintuitive at first when you don’t want to keep feeling something. You want it to go away, and I get that, but the desperation to get rid of it makes it stay longer. You get to go through and out the other side when you allow it. Did you ever hear the quote, “If you are going through hell, keep going.”? It means don’t stay there. Allow the feeling to come, and then they can go.
Listen to Embrace Letting Go on YouTube
The best way to allow your feeling is via self-compassion. Self-compassion is the opposite of negative self-judgment. When you feel something, anything, you say, “I get it; I understand why I feel that way.” Remember the gesture to kiss your hand and touch your heart from Season 3, Episode 1? I found that gesture very helpful after walking back from the waterfall. Every time I noticed I was again thinking about this situation, I would kiss my hand and touch my heart, telling my heart that it made sense. Then, I would gently bring my attention to something else.
That day, I was on a beautiful trail, so I could look around. But if I was home, I could busy myself cleaning, preparing something, or reaching out to someone to engage my attention on something else. If I tried to force myself like, “Stop thinking about it! No, think about something else!” that would be attachment too. Be gentle with yourself instead, and it will work better.
Let’s look closely at how I went from that to formalizing the three-step process. First of all, in talking to clients, I realized that the biggest obstacle to forgiving themselves or letting go of something because they felt responsible for it. They didn’t think that they deserved to let go or be forgiven. This is very similar to forgiving someone else when they do something: People hold onto their feelings because they think that if they let it go, it takes away the significance in a way that would be akin to saying it doesn’t matter that that happened and that would subjugate their sense of worth. So they hold on to things as if it holding onto them is holding onto their worth.
This is interesting because…
they don’t feel worthy in general due to what happened. They go back and forth, so they have to cling onto this more to balance that. It is a no-win situation and feels out of control, so they try to get some control somewhere and overwork, or people please, or not eat, or be obsessive about something. Whatever it is, it often perpetuates being out of control.
Forgiveness is not condoning, and it is not a gift you give the other person at your expense. Think about forgiveness as you no longer define yourself by what happened. You no longer give that person (and what occurred) control over your life and identity. That’s what it means to forgive. What happened happened, it was not okay, but it doesn’t have to define you anymore.
What happened, happened. Letting go can’t change that. Nothing can change the past. But right now, you are living the effects of what happened or the consequences. The effects are your response to what happened: namely, how you think about it, how you feel about it, trauma memory, how you think about yourself, how you approach things or other relationships on account of what happened, and how you think about yourself, and more. Those are what is causing you pain now, and luckily these can change. And you have sovereign control over these.
Because I noticed that “deserving” plays a big role in holding on to things, I knew this needed to be addressed first.
The three steps to embrace letting go are
First, Knowing that you deserve to let go.
We talked about this in the last episode when I showed you how to make meaning that stops the questions of the mind. When it comes to forgiving yourself, this may feel trickier. It is a lot easier to forgive other people than it is for us to forgive ourselves. You do make mistakes, of course, that’s human, and you probably and hopefully have regret, guilt, or shame about it. Those feelings mean that you are a good person who cares about being ethical and doing the right thing. But as I said, guilt, shame, and regret have a purpose; to call your attention to something to decide what kind of action you can take.
You can repair the relationships, make up for something, pay kindness forward, or commit to doing the next time differently. Staying in guilt, shame, and regret does nothing good for you or anyone. It does have negative consequences, though: you isolate yourself, your self-confidence plummets, and it puts riffs in your relationships. See? There’s nothing there for you.
If you think about it, regret means that you are a good person and not the “bad” person you thought you were since your “mistake.” Let that you CARE about doing the right things define you instead of the mistake defining you. Think about why someone would make a mistake like that; it is usually understandable. If you still can’t forgive yourself and have compassion for your choice, think about it as if it were someone else. If you think they deserve forgiveness, then you deserve forgiveness.
Here is an example
If one day you went out with some friends and another person found out and felt terrible that you hadn’t invited them, you might feel guilty about that. You may have done it on purpose because, for example, that person steals attention, and you knew another friend needed to talk through a problem. Or, you may have done it accidentally because you didn’t remember to ask. They may have been busy lately, so you weren’t in the habit of inviting them. Whatever happened, there is a reason that is usually not evil. You are human, you will make mistakes, and those are forgivable. People forgive others for much worse. I have had clients who wouldn’t forgive themselves for something little but would forgive others for something much, much worse.
Whether you feel like you deserve it or not, you have to decide that you deserve it and that that consciousness will slowly change your beliefs. You don’t have to prove you deserve it. That’s ridiculous because it’s relative, and there is no truth. Trying to find the truth will make the mind try to ensure it gets it right. That is black-and-white thinking, which is the same as perfectionism. There is nothing for you there. You have to DECIDE you deserve it and make that your truth. Without this in the way, the other two steps of the letting go process will become available.
Step two, Let it go.
For this, you just set the intention to let go. You’ve already decided that you deserve to and that you want to, and now you decide that you WILL let go.
I suggest a letting go ritual for this. Humans have had ceremonies for millennia bc they help us feed energy into our intentions, celebrate our accomplishments, and make meaning to sustain our commitments. That’s why we have a ceremony. In the What’s in Your Hand? activity, I recommend holding a ceremony to help sustain your commitment to letting this go.
We’ll come back to planning that in a moment.
Step three is to Practice
Your questioning, your regret, your hurt, anger, frustration- whatever you are holding onto will come back. Expect that. That is what a human mind does. Be prepared for it to come back, and when it does, think about the leaves. Say, “I get it; I get why that hurt me,” and then kiss your hand, touch your heart, give yourself a little hug, and gently bring your attention to something else.
You may need to repeat the last step over and over. But the less attached you are to the negative feelings, the more they will space out unless it fades away.
After weeks of rumination about my friend who ghosted me, I started this three-step process, and it went away within days. That was about fifteen years ago. Since then, I have taught this to so many people. It works. It’s magic how quickly it fades away. Often, the next time I see them, they have no energy about it at all. They are like, “Oh yeah, hmm, I used to have that….”
It’s gone, gone.
Judgment attaches us to negative feelings. When we stop judging, there is almost nothing else to do to heal.
If you are working on steps two and three and it is not working, briefly check in with yourself about whether you feel confident that you deserve to let go. If not, go back and do that work. However, be careful here. Most of the time, I find that people think they have more work to do, but they don’t. It is just that they didn’t know it was natural for feelings and thoughts to come back. It is common to believe that if something comes back, that means there is more to heal.
(Even mental health practitioners and coaches think this! And this is hazardous because it keeps people paying attention to the problems longer when paying attention to the problem is the problem).
Separating from Your Thoughts
I saw a meme this morning (below this paragraph). It illustrates getting distance from our thoughts. Instead of focusing on the content of the thoughts, we are observing the thoughts. This distance and witnessing state immediately regulate our nervous system, decreasing our negative emotions. It gives three examples. In the first one, the person is saying, “I’m a failure” in the second one, the person is saying, “I have a thought that I am a failure,” and in the third one, they say, “I am noticing that I have a thought that I am a failure.”
See? You are out of the content of the thought––not trying to defend yourself from being called a failure or give testimony to why you think you are a failure. You are not debating how much of a failure you are and how your failure-dom will ruin your life and any relationships you have.
In these conservative examples,
“I’m a failure.”
“I have a thought that I am a failure.”
and then, “I am noticing that I have a thought that I am a failure.”
The term failure became less and less meaningful as the distance between you and thought became greater.
So, in summary, compassion allows you to feel validated enough to let go of any figuring out that the mind wants to do, and you can let go. Then, you have to expect it to come back and practice not getting back into the content and taking your attention away. What do you think? What has been wreaking havoc on your mind that you would like to let go of?
Once you decide what you want to let go of, you can get to the fun part: Planning Your Letting Go Ceremony
Ceremonies are not weird or woo-woo. They are rooted in so much history, and they work to help you feel connected. You align and work with the energy around you, so you feel less and less vulnerable and instead feel empowered and backed up.
When you offer any intentions to the Earth, you feel supported by the beauty of nature instead of a victim of its chaos. During ceremonies, I always open space by asking for the permissions and protections of the ancestors of the land that I am on. At home in upstate NY, the ancestors are the Hodinöhsö:ni’ (Haudenosaunee) people.
I’m a settler person in the US. That means I’m not indigenous to where I’m living. My ancestors came from somewhere else; in my instance, they came from Italy.
Especially as a settler person, it’s important to honor the people who historically and rightfully lived in the unceded territory. If you don’t know, you can look it up at native-land.ca . The link is in the show notes. An essential first step to stop ignoring that horrible history is acknowledging the atrocities of the settler people on the native communities and environment. You can bring this to your awareness by giving a land acknowledgment as often as possible.
That means to name the ancestors of the land you are on and acknowledge that the land was unceded. The Hodinöhsö:ni’ did not leave by their own choice. They were forced to leave.
The beginning of the ceremony is a perfect time to do this. Native Americans have an anointed ancestry. They lived here and in harmony with the Earth for over 20,000 years. And if you intend to live in harmony, they will allow you to tap into that root. Asking for their permission is necessary to measure your intentions and actions to be kind and for the common good.
When I do it, I specifically ask that the intentions or commitments I celebrate in the ceremony be a blessing only to myself, my relations, my communities, and the Earth herself. I also ask for guidance on the next steps and forgiveness for any mistakes I make in the future. This invites consciousness into whatever I do.
When I am done with the ceremony, I listen for a moment. A bit of wisdom and understanding arise, which feels like the exact thing that I need to hear at the moment. Then, in gratitude, I offer a bit of fruit, bread, or a flower to the Earth to say thank you.
Thank you for reading
While you are there, say hello to me in the comments. Tell me about your ceremony and fill me in on how you are doing and feeling. Don’t forget to subscribe to me on YouTube and Tiktok at Doctor Jodi.
Thank you so much for listing to this episode of Anxiety… I’m So Done with You! with me, Doctor Jodi.
In this episode, you learned the three steps to letting go.
I appreciate your subscribing, commenting, and leaving me five stars on Apple Podcasts. The next episode will cover Chapter 4, Section 3: Embrace Realistic Expectations. Read or listen to that, and I will see you there. In the meantime, hang out with me on YouTube and TikTok at Doctor Jodi.