"Let it go"
“It’s not a matter of letting go – you would if you could. Instead of “let it go” we should probably say “let it be.” Jon Kabat Zinn.
With a heavy heart, you put down the phone after being told that, “you gave a great interview, we loved you, you would have been a great fit with the team however, on this occasion there was someone else more experienced than you”. You feel crushed, beyond disappointed, your stomach is in knots, your throat feels tight and you just want to cry.
Later that day, when retelling the event to a friend and describing your disappointment in all its technicolour glory, they turn to you and say “let it go – just see it as practice”.
“Let it go.”
On the usefulness continuum it sits somewhere between “cheer up” and “smile, it may never happen”. It’s a phase offered by well-meaning friends and loved ones in an effort to relieve us of our suffering. In relieving our suffering, it’s as useful as tying a lead weight to our ankles to help us swim. If you could, you would.
In this post, I want to offer an alternative interpretation of “let it go".
First of all, we need to rewind back to the moments after the phone call. You’ve experienced a disappointment and your self-confidence has taken a knock. What words of comfort do you offer yourself in your moment suffering?
“Why me, why do I always mess up? I’m going to spend the rest of my life in a job I hate. I’m such an idiot, why did I say […] in the interview? I looked a mess, why didn’t I wear something else?"
You see what we do?
An event triggers an experience of emotional suffering which is painful. How do we tend to this emotional wound? Do we tend to it as we would a physical wound; by soothing ourselves and adding words of comfort? No, we tear the wound open and pour words of self-loathing into it (you're not alone, we've all done it).
It’s as though, if we can make ourselves feel bad enough, we’ll know to do much better next time…
It's through our reactions to suffering that we make our pain worse.
When we hear the phrase “let it go”, it feels invalidating – that our pain is not important. Letting go is not easily done. However, what if we understood “let it go” to mean letting go of the critical voice, of releasing our battle with what is here and has already happened. Here, we might feel we have more choice.
If we can set the intention to do our best to monitor our internal dialogue and not engage with it, we put ourselves in a position where we can navigate painful experiences with more ease.
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About Justine Curlis
Justine is a fully qualified cognitive behavioural coach, mindfulness facilitator, associate member of the Association for Coaching and a member of the International Stress Management Association.
Coaching specialisms: Career, personal development, health, weight loss, resilience, confidence, motivation, relationships and assertiveness.