Letting go: recognizing signals that we need to act
Friday, May 16, 2014
We would be happier if we could practice the habit of letting go of our ideals of perfection when they are causing us harm. We all want the world we live in to be more perfect since then we would have fewer problems. But there are times when we must act to let go of our ideal of how our world should be. The 1st step of letting go is noticing stress signals that we need to let go one of our ideals of how our world should be. The 2nd step of letting go is seeing the ideal that is in conflict with our reality and causing our stress. The 3rd step of letting go is seeing the harm that our holding on to our ideal is causing to others and/or ourselves, the 4th step is letting go with love and compassion, the fifth and final step of letting go is accepting a new ideal of reality. See Leo Babouta of Zen Habits and his free e-book on letting go "The one Skill" zenhabits.net/lg/
Some common signals that we should be compassionate and let go (at least for the time being) are: Anger, Irritation, Frustration, Stress/anxiety, Depression, Jealousy, Feeling hurt, Feeling inferior, Wanting to be right, Lashing out at someone, Procrastination, Wishing things were different or easier, Feeling insulted, Wanting to get justice, Wanting to harm someone and thousands of others.
While these feelings cause us stress and suffering; we can’t stop feeling them, and not wanting to feel them actually makes the suffering worse. So the first thing to know is that it’s OK to feel these things, and that we should just feel them, accept them. But we need to pause and reflect on what is going on before lashing out or taking action that we might regret. Otherwise we could magnify the problem. Instead we can begin the process of letting go so that we don't prolong our suffering.
How do we practice this first step, of noticing the signals? It’s a learning process, but first just make a commitment to trying to notice when these things come up. It might surprise you, if you watch yourself, how often you feel a little bit of irritation or frustration or anger, especially if you’re around other people. You don't need to immediately need to make changes, just start noticing your feelings and the conditions under which these feelings arise. Then after a few days of reflection, you can move towards the further steps of letting go.