Letting go in 7 easy steps

Life is an intermittent lesson of letting go.  We have something, we get used to it, and more often than not, we need to let it go.

One of the biggest “let go” moments happened some months ago. Last October I graduated from a Masters program and I was ready to let go of my work in Customer Service with the intention of looking for a new job and starting again my career in Organizational Development. I did this for years in Mexico and I wanted to go back to this field. I was ready to let go of the certainty while I found a new job, but I couldn’t imagine the whole picture at the moment.

I live in Montreal, a vibrantly bilingual city, that is receiving more and more immigrants every day. I had the opportunity to work in Spanish and English most of the time, I attended school in English and the first thing I had to let go, after being laid off, was of my comfort with the language.  A big portion of the jobs are exclusively for fluently French speaking professionals and my “good” French wasn’t enough.

When I moved here I knew I had to let go of the comfort of the familiar, the friends and relatives, the places that I knew and where they knew me. After 6 years of adapting myself to a new environment, I had to let go of this barely familiar environment. I thought it was a good time to flow and put my attention and my intention to the French. All this came with a little bit of frustration, for sure, but I’m someone who knows how to adapt to the new realities.

I had to let go of my previous life-style as before I wasn’t careful with the money, I wouldn’t be concerned of investments and I was always very generous with everyone who needed money. I had to let go this “no worries” attitude and be more mindful of the way I spend.  For sure, generosity is very important, but not everything is money. I’ve learned to value my time and my intention.

I also had to let go of my superficial need for consumption, buying things I didn’t need, or things I could make myself, including prepared food. Prepared food is expensive and less healthy than food that we make ourselves, but you know, no one has time to prepare bread, for example.  Food is just an example but there are many things that I can do myself, and that are not difficult (such as shampoo, conditioner, soap, creams, deodorants, etc).  I can say that I was moderately crafty, but I have discovered new interests and skills now that I have more time and less money.

But perhaps the most important thing that I had to let go was a “self-sufficient” attitude. I was the one who helped others, I was the one solving problems and I was the one who knew what to do. My ego was probably the most affected in the process, but I finally applied the common sense advice that we have ever given or received: “Ask for help”.

So, this is my reflection for you today. One of the biggest obstacles for change is our inability to LET GO of anything (attitudes, assumptions, relationships, jobs, concerns) that no longer serve us. Let go in order to get to different, new places. Let go of the past, so the past can let go of you.
let go

LET’S WORK!

Here are some simple ideas to let go of the past and embrace the unknown future.   Of course, they can be as difficult or easy as you want them to be. If you need help applying them, or letting go, please, feel free to comment or contact me directly.

1. Be honest and remember the good and the bad. Not everything was perfect and you know it.

2.  Embrace things as they come. Remember that things come and go, that no one promised us anything, nor we signed a contract before arriving to this world. Everything is an expectation and the bigger they are, more room for disappointment, so let’s be conscious.

3. Focus on what you can control. Yes, it’s not fair that people tend to hire their friends, for example, but what I can do is develop more skills to better position myself.

4.  Allow yourself to express the emotions you feel. If you feel like venting, do it, but then do something that is positive, that brings you closer to your goal.

5. Take responsibility but don’t put all the guilt on you. Yes, you may have contributed to the situation, but sometimes, bad things just happen.

6. Be open to new experiences and thankful for the positive ones. The mind receives millions of stimuli every day. Focus on the ones that serve you and be thankful for them. You cannot be thankful and sad at the same time.

7.  Relax. Think what’s the impact of this in the future. In the next 20 years, will this situation still matter? Probably no, so, just relax.

Handling stress in a positive way

Some days ago I had the chance to attend an event that made me reflect on the importance of dealing with stress in a positive way: one of the organizers was really affected by stress, to the point where she fell sick. The other organizer, a friend of mine, was very concerned when the person who was sick didn’t show up on time. When I noticed that my friend was becoming more agitated I offered my help. We devised a plan in case her partner didn’t show up and that really helped my friend to ease her feelings and get back on track. Just by having a plan, and the reassurance that things can be fixed, we feel relieved.

We have all heard that there are two types of stress, and while both have an impact in our mind and body, only one of them actually helps us. It’s known as Eustress, and it appears when we’re in demanding and challenging situation which we are capable of handling. It’s the sense of thrill and excitement we have when working on new projects, or competing.  It can motivate us to achieve something and it brings enthusiasm.

The negative stress, Distress, is the one we identify more often. In general it causes emotions and feelings such as anxiety, fatigue, depression, unhappiness, and eventually illnesses.

stress

My advice is really simple:  If there is something you can do to fix the situation, do it. If there is nothing that can be done, just relax. Plan for the worse and hope for the best, and then just let things happen, but more importantly, take action as soon as you can.

Remember that all problems start small, and that as Corrie ten Boom says “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” When we’re stressed, we don’t enjoy the moment, the beauty of the present. 

 And if you see someone struggling with a stressful situation, step forward, show up, offer your help.  This person will be grateful and that will improve the situation enormously. Sometimes, just by acknowledging a difficult situation, we help other people relax. 

LET’S TAKE ACTION

1. Identify the situations that are currently causing you Distress.

2. Identify three possible actions you can take right now to work through the situation. They don’t have to be major actions, but rather simple steps that you can take immediately.

3. Identify one or two friends/relatives/colleagues that can support any of your actions, if needed.

4. Contact them and ask for help, if it applies. It will give them the opportunity to be closer with you and it will give you the chance to finally solve what is affecting you.