It’s Dr. Anita Johnston here. I’m in Denver, Colorado. It’s fall here and I find myself looking at the trees, watching the leaves as they drop any time the wind blows – even just a little bit. I start to think about how nature has so much to tell us about Letting Go. This is something that seems to be really hard for us when we have feelings that come up — we can get stuck. We get stuck in the feelings and think that there is no way out.
The idea of trying to let go is kind of a mystery.
Exactly how do you let go?
How do you let go of uncomfortable, painful, or scary feelings?
First, you have to realize that you can’t really let go of them. They have their own natural flow, and they will let go of you. But you have to get behind the feeling, you have to get beneath the feeling, to the sensation that you first experienced — which comes even before the feeling. Sometimes, that might be a contraction in your belly, or the warmth that spreads through your body, or a little tickle in the back of your neck.
After the initial experience of the sensation, what happens is we attach a story to that sensation and we give it meaning.
Here’s the thing: You can’t let go of the story, either. But, if you investigate the story, if you look at the story, the story will let go of you. How does that work? First of all, you have to recognize that there is a story, and not only that, you’re the story keeper, and you’re the storyteller.
Angeles Arrien, once described a tribe that was studied a great deal, because there was no violence in this tribe. One of the things they learned about the tribe was that everyone in the tribe worked with their dreams. The first thing in the morning, people would talk about their dreams, and that would inform how their day was going to be. What I found more interesting is that they also paid attention to their waking dreams (what we call daydreams). All children were taught to do this. So, whenever someone would have a negative waking dream (like, let’s say you are driving in your car and you imagine as you’re winding around the cliff that the car goes off the cliff) they would say to themselves, “That’s a story that doesn’t need to happen.” If they had a positive daydream (like if you imagine yourself saving kittens from a burning building) they would say to themselves, “That’s a healing story.”
I’m going to invite you to try this.
Because something interesting happens when you recognize that it’s a story; it’s a story that you’re telling yourself. It’s a story that doesn’t need to happen. See what happens when you do that — when you’re having a scary thought, or a painful thought, or you’re thinking that terrible things are going to happen. When my children were teenagers and they were all learning how to drive, their friends’ cars would pull up in front of the house to pick them up. Immediately my mind would go, “Car crash!” I would say to myself, “And that’s a story that doesn’t need to happen”.
Something shifts something within you when you can recognize that it’s a story and that you are the storyteller and the story keeper. It lets go of you.
I would love to hear what you think, share a comment below!