One of my best friends has had a hell of a year – moving out of state, resigning from her job, deaths in the family – just to name a few of the things she is dealing with. One of the ways that she has gotten though it is to say to herself, “I’m going to pick my battles.” It may sound simple, but this statement and what is represents can be so powerful – letting go.
So much of our anxiety has to do with control – wanting to control the things we can’t, feeling out of control (especially when it comes to emotions), ignoring or avoiding the things that we can control, and getting so angry when we can’t make loved ones just do what (we think) they need to do. Imagine that you could stop yourself, evaluate the scenario with a clear head, and realize that it isn’t worth your energy? You can!
Often associated with AA is the serenity prayer, “Higher power, grant me the serenity to accept the things that I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” This prayer/mantra can be such a helpful reminder for anyone struggle with the stress of difficult situations. A quote by mindfulness guru Elisha Goldstein – “It is what it is, when it is”. This so simply ties radical acceptance and mindfulness. Can you work on accepting your reality? You don’t have to agree with it, like it, or understand it. But you can accept that in that reality there is nothing you can do about it. Your only control is over your thoughts, behaviors, feelings, and reactions to everything else.
Just for today, or as a new resolution, try giving up control and letting go. The dishes don’t have to get done before you go to bed. The kids don’t have to get straight As on their report cards. You don’t have to put on make-up every time you leave the house. Think about what brings you joy and what brings you frustration. Re-evaluate what is important in your life. Letting go of the more trivial things can help you to focus your attention on what matters.
Journal prompt: What can I let go of? What is something that bothers me that I have no control over? Where can I shift my attention to instead?