Learning to “Let it Go”


 

Lately, I have been exposed to reminders about the importance of letting things go.

This morning, I made a bunch of eggs and French Toast for my kids. My children decided to eat significantly less than I imagined that they would eat. They asked for two pieces each, and they both ended up eating just one. At the end of the meal, there were a plates half full of uneaten French Toast smothered in syrup. I do not like to waste food. I admit that I was slightly annoyed by the syrupy messy mess of uneaten food resources. As I scraped the uneaten maple encrusted remnants, I reminded myself to “let it go”.

A few moments later as I was cleaning off the table, I noticed that milk had soaked through the tablecloth and had started to stain the table. This table was inherited from my parents and I have significant emotional attachment to the table. This was the table that I ate dinner with my family growing up. This table made it 40 years without any stains in the wood. Now there are stains.

“Let it go.”

In Buddhism, the second “Nobel Truth” is that the origin of suffering is attachment. Basically, we get in trouble when we become attached to transient things in our lives. In the Buddhist worldview, transient things not only include the physical objects that surround us, but also ideas, and objects of our perception. “Because the objects of our attachment are transient, their loss is inevitable, thus suffering will necessarily follow.” Buddhist believe goes deeper and asserts that our own sense of “self” is itself transient and that our attachment to our sense of “self” can also be a cause of suffering. One simple way that we can alleviate our suffering is to let go of our attachments. In other words, we can just “let it go”.

Looking back at my morning French Toast, I can observe that my frustration was directly linked to my attachment to food resources in my home. My suffering was linked to attachment to eggs, bread and maple syrup. I also experienced suffering due to my attachment with the wood surface of my family table. Once we can identify the source of our sense of dissatisfaction, it can be a lot easier to “let it go”.

Whereas attachment to a specific object can be easy to identify, it can be more challenging to recognize beliefs that can cause us a sense of dis-ease. “The Work” by Byron Katie can be a great tool to evaluate one’s beliefs that can lead to a sense of dissatisfaction. In brief, the work consists of five basic steps that force us to identify our thought process about a given situation. These five steps include:

  1. Ask yourself “Is it true?”
  2. Ask yourself “Can you absolutely know that it’s true?”
  3. Ask yourself “How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?”
  4. Ask yourself  “Who would you be without the thought?
  5. The Turnaround – Next, turn your statement around. The turnarounds are an opportunity to experience the opposite of what you believe to be true. You may find several turnarounds. This is not about blaming yourself or feeling guilty. It’s about discovering alternatives that can bring you peace.

In many of my own life situations, I have observed that when I start to experience stress, I would be better off if I just “let it go”. Some situations are easier for me to let go of than others. For your own sense of peace and well-being, I hope that you can learn to just “let it go”.

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9 Comments to “Learning to “Let it Go””

  1. I am delighted to have read this tonight; I needed this earlier today when a situation happened, which I had to let go. I was able to do that after my Tai Chi class.It is better to live joyfully in the moment that to hang on to the worries of yesterday. ♥ Angi

  2. Good post! Letting go of “things” physical or in the form of thoughts, beliefs and concepts is important to our growth and understanding. I too have had the momentary upset at some “thing” being damaged or broken…when one learns to let go it evaporates any anger/upset about the situation. It really is counter productive not to let go. Jay

  3. This is a very timely, excellent writing! Just read a little Kindle book about the 4 Nobel Truths. Yesterday I found out, almost overnight, that aphids were killing my beautiful roses! That was a “let it go moment!” The weed whacker took it personally when I told it I hated it and despite repeated attempts to rethread and get it working I had to let that one go too or the machine would have ended up in pieces around my freshly cut yard! It’s tough for me sometimes to extract my teeth out of things lol but I’m working on it! Progress, not perfection. We are a fine work in progress!

  4. Practice makes perfect. I’m still in the perfectng stages. Jay

  5. I feel as if our trip to Knott’s Berry Farm was an even better example. Half way through the day, one of our sons was “done” while the other wanted to make the most of every moment. The financial investment of a theme park ticket and the time investment of driving to LA is a pretty big deal, and had we clung to the notion of getting the best bang for our buck, there is no way we’d let it go…but instead, I left the park, got some ice cream and sat under a tree in an adjacent park looking for ladybugs. We had just as much fun as if we’d been in the park. I just had to let go.

  6. Seldom does anything edible get wasted around me. If nobody else eats it, usually some critter will. I am always putting left over milk out for the cats. The french toast would have gone outdoors, for the squirrels, and the birds, if the raccoon didn’t get there first. Fruit peels, overripe fruit, etc. hit the compost pile. As for your table, I wish I had a remedy. My heart goes out to you on that one, but after 40 years, I guess it is time it got christened. 🙂

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