❄️ Letting It Go ❄️
It's been almost three years and I still get the song, "Let it go" from the movie Frozen stuck in my head at least once per week.
My kids watched that movie daily and begged me to play the songs in the car over and over and over and over.... In fact, it is currently stuck in my head and that is what inspired me to write this post. The concept of letting something go is often what brings people in for therapy. Some people have been harmed by others and need to forgive. Some have harmed others or themselves and struggle with self forgiveness. Still others have never ending negative thinking that colors their ability to reach their full potential. My clients often say that they are told by well meaning friends and family that they need to "get over it" or "let it go". If it was that easy to let something go, Elsa wouldn't have ended up freezing all of Arendelle! She would have just said to herself, "Oh Elsa, just forget about freezing your sister and get over it already! What's done is done!". Instead, she she froze an entire kingdom, ran away and almost killed her sister. Again.
Believe or not, Elsa is not that different from the rest of us.
When we hold on to the past or to negativity, we can create disasters all around us. We hold grudges, feel anxious, sabotage relationships, fear failure, and the list goes on. So letting it go is a necessary step in self improvement. But how do we let it go when holding it close comes so much more naturally?
Well, if Elsa was able to come to terms with her tendency to kill people with her icy blasts, you can come to terms with the thoughts and situations that keep you struggling. Read on for a list of three steps to let it go:
❄️Allow yourself to have feelings and thoughts about the issue that is bothersome❄️ Pushing away and avoiding negative thoughts and feelings is one of the most common coping skills people use. There are many ways to accomplish this: live in denial, use substances or addictive behaviors to distract, misdirect negativity onto those closest to us to name a few. Oftentimes, this avoidance is a result from fear of the pain that will result from addressing the issue. The avoidance of dealing with the issue at hand actually gives it more power. Elsa's fear of others finding out about her power lead to it getting out of control and to her freezing everything in sight. When you can confront the issue head on, you are more likely to find a way to resolve it.
❄️Talk about it❄️ There is a saying, "We are only as sick as our secrets". Keeping our emotions hidden inside can lead to feelings of isolation, alienation and hopelessness. Think about Elsa, locked in her room in the castle but unable to tell her sister why. Her unhappiness stemmed from fear and lack of connection with others. Talking to others unburdens us from carrying our baggage by ourselves. Opening up helps us connect and realize we are not alone. Whether you choose family, friends, religious leaders or therapists to confide in, being honest with others can lead to getting the support you need. You might be surprised to find how many others share the same challenges.
❄️Practice self care❄️ Once you have acknowledged the source of your pain and shared it with others, you can truly learn to let it go. For each individual, the specific way to let it go is different, but there is a common approach for all and that is self care. At the end the movie, Elsa learned that love was the way for her to let go of her fear and gain control over her power. Her connection with her sister helped her defrost the kingdom and avoid freezing everyone in her way. In reality, self care may mean changing the way you talk to yourself. Are you kind and loving or harsh and critical of yourself? It might be practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation, that allow you live in the present and not judge the thoughts that come into your mind. You may need to set better boundaries with others or schedule more time with friends. Your therapist or support system can help you figure out what would help you best.
At the end of the day, we can only change ourselves and our reactions to people and situations. Letting it go is easier said than done, but it is possible with the right support.