Let it go
Right, remember how I mentioned last week that I had subscribed to Disney+? So is it really a surprise that I haven’t been able to get some of the songs out of my head?
Let It Go, of course, is the title of a song from Frozen, when Elsa decides (finally) to stop holding back her ice magic and lets her hair down (literally) and puts on a sparkly dress and builds herself an ice palace. (How can you not love Disney?!?)
I had a let it go moment this week that I wanted to share.
I had a moment when I realized that even in my head I was trying to argue with or justify some things I was thinking because I didn’t like what they implied about me. Like they weren’t in line with this picture I have of who I would like to be - or more accurately, who I think I should be.
So a thought would come up and I would say no, no, no, it’s really this way because this, this, and this. Or well, you only feel that way because this, this, and this.
So I decided to just stop and let it go.
The first thing I noticed after I made this decision was just how often these supposedly aberrant thoughts were arising.
When I hear how people are struggling right now, the immediate thing I feel is not sympathy as I would wish it to be, it is relief. It is relief about the things I am not struggling with.
There it is. My deep dark secret.
Another thing that I was apparently also holding back related to this, is that what I am overwhelmingly feeling about life in general, is not really fear of getting sick or anxiety over the state of the economy; it’s apathy.
It’s the feeling that all the things that I’ve previously loved about my life no longer make me feel the same way. It’s being bored with what I do every day and not seeing a whole lot of point in it even though it’s not really much different for me now than it was before.
It’s worrying that I will never again feel excitement or joy.
It’s as if I was eating my favorite meal every day and I was loving it and savoring it and thinking how lucky I was to be eating my favorite meal and then someone told me ok, now that’s ALL you get to eat and suddenly I was like, ugh, I have to eat this again?
And why would I be holding this back? Well, I think because it seems trivial to me to worry about this in light of all those other things.
The second thing I noticed though after my let it go moment, is that I felt lighter. With each thought I just let happen, I could feel myself relax a little. Like in yoga when the instructor says to relax your face and once your attention goes there you realize you were clenching your jaw.
It hit me how much energy I was expending trying, in essence, to police my mind.
What a fruitless endeavor.
After all, remember: 1) We have no control over what comes up in our minds. Things arise and poof, they move on. It is our nature. 2) What comes up isn’t inherently good or bad. It’s actually we who assign those labels. 3) Most importantly though, one thought or feeling is not the sum total of who I am and does not define my character. I am way more complicated than that.
And all this got me wondering.
Wondering whether the gravity and uncertainty of the time we’re living through might not have the positive effect of making us question and even let go of these rigid rules we have in place for ourselves. All these ways that we hem ourselves in and cause ourselves to struggle against some ideal person that we’ve decided we must be.
Because I know I’ve been reminded that life throws you curve balls that you never see coming. That there are struggles out there that we just can’t predict and can never possibly be prepared for.
In light of this then, my goodness why would we want to manufacture needless, day to day struggles of our own? Struggles that don’t, as we might think, ready us for the bigger ones, but actually sap our energy so we run out of steam when it really matters?
Is it simply because we feel that struggle implies meaning? (I would argue it does not. As I alluded to above, excitement and joy can bring meaning and those certainly don’t require struggle.)
Or is it because continuing the struggle somehow proves our strength? (Again, I would argue it does not. Also as above, senseless struggle only leaves us exhausted and weakened.)
And could we actually be more like the people we want to be if we aren’t struggling toward someone we are not?
I don’t know, just a thought…