Letting go. Two simple, small words that pack a hefty punch. It’s an “easier said than done” scenario, right? Is it even possible to successfully let go of trivial or damaging baggage that doesn’t serve you? As humans, we have a tendency to do the opposite. We stew. We mull things over. There’s even a smattering of suppressing involved. If it’s negative or makes us a tad uncomfortable, we shove it down deep where the sun don’t shine. We save it for a rainy day that never comes.
Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender by Dr. David Hawkins is an eye-opening read. Hawkins delves into the importance of releasing negative emotions. Here’s a brief description of the book from his site:
“Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender describes a simple and effective means by which to let go of the obstacles to Enlightenment and become free of negativity. During the many decades of Dr. Hawkins’ clinical psychiatric practice, the primary aim was to seek the most effective ways to relieve human suffering in all its many forms. The letting go technique (surrender) was found to be of great practical benefit and is described in this book.”
Hawkins was a revered psychiatrist and lecturer who began practicing in 1952. He’s appeared on programs such as The Barbara Walters Show and the Today show. Additionally, he was at the forefront of consciousness research and spirituality. In short, he knew a thing or two about letting go.
As a lawyer, you may find this concept bewildering. Control is your modus operandi, and if you relinquish that, what do you have? However, the techniques Hawkins talks about are just as beneficial for lawyers as they are for regular folks. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of how this can help you.
There’s Freedom in Surrender — in “Letting Go”
Hawkins writes about how there’s freedom in surrender or “letting go.” Clark Kegley has an excellent YouTube video that’s centered around Hawkins’ book. It’s about choosing your battles. It takes strength to release something that only hinders you and your progress. Most people associate the word “surrender” with failure and quitting. Not so. Strength, in this case, is derived from knowing what you need. Only acquiring what better serves you. Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. If there are roadblocks impeding you on your path to success, wouldn’t you want to cast them aside?
According to TLEX Institute, the mind can have between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day. The site dives into a 2005 study that categorized people’s thoughts. Eighty percent were negative while 95 percent were repetitive thoughts from the previous day. Additionally, 85 percent of what we worry about never transpires. “Secondly with the 15% of the worries that did happen, 79% of the subjects discovered that either they could handle the difficulty better than expected, or that the difficulty taught them a lesson worth learning.”
The article via TLEX Institute unveiled the study’s conclusion — 97 percent of our worries are “baseless and result from an unfounded pessimistic perception.” That’s depressing. But there’s hope. You can choose to let go today. Pick those battles. To further help you, try focusing on addressing your feelings instead of your thoughts. Hawkins talks about how thoughts are actually sorted by feelings. Ergo, if you dig further down past the toxic thought, you’ll get to the emotion. This leads me to my next point…
You Can Get to the Root of a Problem
Our knee-jerk reaction whenever we encounter something negative is to avoid it. Suppress. Run for the hills. Hawkins writes about the ways in which we react to personal turbulence. We actively suppress the negative feeling. However, suppressing something doesn’t eradicate the issue altogether. In fact, the longer you let a damaging emotion fester, the more destructive it’ll be. It’ll wreak havoc on your mind, body, and spirit.
Secondly, we repress things. Clark Kegley in his video dives into the act of repression. When we repress, it’s on a subconscious level. We’re not entirely aware of it. Most likely it’s triggered by a traumatic event from our childhood and beyond. But, Kegley notes that when you repress something, it’ll “express itself later.” What goes down will eventually come up. Whereas suppression means we’re cognizant of the emotion, repression goes deeper.
Thirdly, we can be overly expressive. Narcissists or arrogant folks tend to operate in this manner since they almost solely focus on themselves. While you may be wondering, “Why is this a bad thing?” it can lead you down a dangerous path. Just like when you preface something with “TMI,” oversharing can be detrimental to your relationships and yourself.
Projection is another term for avoidance. We tend to project our issues onto other people instead of handling them ourselves. It’s easier to pass the buck. Why subject yourself to immense pain when you can generously hand it off to those around you? But forcing your pain onto others isn’t the way to go. It’s adding more casualties to your circle of pain.
So, how do you get to the root of the problem? You need to go through emotion, not around it. You need to let yourself feel whatever it is you’re feeling. What have you been ignoring? Do a systems check of sorts. Acknowledge the emotion, identify where it stems from, sit with it, and let it go.
You Can Surpass Any Limiting Beliefs
Of course, this may seem easier on paper than actually putting it into practice. Whenever you try to let go, you may encounter some inherent resistance on your part. Hawkins delves into four limiting beliefs that serve as a roadblock to our enlightenment. Here’s the first one:
“We only think we deserve things through hard work, sacrifice, and effort.” Blood, sweat, and tears. What springs to mind here is the boomer generation instilling this very concept into younger generations. Hard work is the key to all things. But sometimes we’ll bend over backward and sacrifice our self-care in the name of unnecessary effort. Bear in mind that your mental health takes precedence over all things. Your mind is connected to every facet of your body.
“Suffering is beneficial and good for us.” Is it, though? Why do we feel that we can only excel if we’re wading through the muck? You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase, “Work smart, not hard.” Not everything in life needs to be a struggle. You’re not your grandpa, who probably had to trudge through five feet of snow while walking 10 miles both ways to school every day.
“Things that are simple aren’t worth that much.” Kegley notes here that people who live simpler lives free of technology or social media’s influence tend to be happier. But we’re told that we should reach for the impossible at all times. Shoot for the stars. I’m not saying you can’t have lofty goals, but also remember that you’re only human. You’re imperfect. Sometimes simplicity is the way to go.
“We don’t get anything for nothing.” Nothing comes for free. There’s always a price. But when is it too much? These limiting beliefs are usually holding us back from truly letting go. However, it’s 100 percent possible to surpass the negativity and rise above our own resistance.
Practice Makes Perfect — “Letting Go” Is a Technique
Here’s a technique that you can put into practice. The next time you feel something, sit with it. Take a deep breath. Take several deep breaths if necessary. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come to the surface. Identify the emotions as they arrive. Don’t focus on your thoughts. Search for the rooted emotion. Let the feelings run their course. The key is to explore the cause. Then, after acknowledging the root emotion, you’re free to let it go. Just like Elsa.
Hawkins also addresses the primary emotions that reside on the heavier or negative side of the emotional spectrum. Guilt, shame, fear, apathy, pride, anger, grief, and desire. It’s best to uproot these whenever possible. We can only achieve enlightenment if we unburden ourselves of toxic emotional baggage.
Now, this is something you’ll have to enact on a regular basis. It’s the only way you’ll be able to properly identify the roadblocks or limiting beliefs impeding you from freedom. Just remember: the only way around something is to go through it. Learning to let go is difficult, but as Dr. David Hawkins reminds us in Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender, it’s wholly achievable. This can only help you as a lawyer. Letting go will free up your mind and body so you can help those who need it.