Whether it's a frustrating case of writers block, receiving unexpected bad news, a disagreement with a friend or sudden changes at work; feeling stuck, lost or out of control is something I have struggled with many times.
Although I would almost instinctually fall right in to panic mode or be up all night worrying, these difficult situations usually require just the opposite from us. Taking a step back and then going forward with ease and acceptance can make all the difference. But this also requires something difficult and perhaps even foreign, it requires us to to stop grasping and let go.
Turning away from the tendency to let stress and fear take control requires some determination but can also be a guiding force to a happier and more calm existence.
Here are 4 ways we can find peace and beauty in letting go.
1. The Only Constant Is Change
One of my favorite Buddhist teachings is that of impermanence; nothing lasts exactly as it is. To accept that change is happening all around us and within us at every moment allows us to approach life and ourselves more gently. We can fight the current of life's ups and downs with all our might, becoming more and more exhausted, frustrated and afraid or we can move forward, making the best possible choices we can and taking note of any lessons that are presented to us. This teaching can also be a comfort in our darker moments; if nothing lasts, that goes for the bad or difficult times as well.
2. Let Go Of Worry
Becoming worried and stressed are common reactions to unexpected or unfortunate events but letting those emotions take over can be just as harmful as whatever we may be going through. Many situations we face in life need not only our attention but direct action, so feeling a tug of concern is a natural and needed response. They key is to not become obsessed with our fears, allowing our attention and concern to spiral into hopelessness or depression. Situations are rarely as bad as we imagine them being. Resisting the urge to assume the very worst is going to happen next can help us deal with these moments as well as being able to keep an objective point of view.
3. Say Goodbye to Judgement
For a lot of us, some of the scariest moments in life are the ones that force you to step in to a situation when you are not an expert, where you don't know exactly what you're doing and may fail. Once you let go of the fear of judgement, judgement from others as well as the pressure and judgement we put on ourselves, you become more free. All of our ideas of what we “should” be doing or how things “should” go can hold us back from being able to see and move toward good things waiting for us. Even failure can be a valuable teacher. It really is the journey that counts far more than being the best.
4. Stay Open To All Possibilities.
We don't know the future and usually aren't great at predicting exactly how things will go. Even less so when we are stressed or afraid and may not be seeing the situation in the most realistic light. Fear and hopelessness can cause doors to appear closed and blind us from options and possibilities. Releasing our fear and keeping an open mind and heart takes practice and courage but is essential to master.
Life is unpredictable, we never know what lies just ahead for us. Understanding that nothing lasts, that becoming bogged down with worry doesn't help, that letting go of fear and judgement can set us free and that staying open to positive outcomes instead of living as if the worst has already happened is truly a gift we can give ourselves.