So today I’m gracing you all with a post all about my favorite Beatles song: “Let It Be.”
Just kidding. Yes that is one of my favorite Beatles songs, but that’s not exactly what I’m going to talk about today. What I am going to be talking about is the idea of lettings things be instead of letting things go.
So often in our society we are given the message to “let it go.” Whether we’re upset over doing something stupid, mad about something someone did to us, or sad about a missed opportunity, we are told to just let it go and move on.
But how am I supposed let go of the past? How can I let go of something that actually happened? It simply, literally happened. Letting go implies a level of forgetting. I’m not going to be able to forget the moments in my life that were packed with emotion. I can’t forget them. I can’t let them go. But I can let them be. I can accept that they happened and move on. I can let the past be the past. It happened. Let it be.
When someone is nervous about a job interview, he or she is told to let go of fear. When someone is holding a long-time grudge, he or she is told to let go of anger. How? My feelings are my feelings. How am I supposed to let them go? How am I supposed to just forget them on command? They are my feelings, my emotions. They flow out of me naturally. I can’t stop them. But I can let them be. The nervousness, the anger – it’s ok to have them. It’s not ok to let them control you. Let yourself be nervous, but rock the job interview anyway. Let yourself be angry, but forgive the person anyway.
My advice is not to let it go at all. My advice is to LET IT BE! Those scary, hairy emotions you are feeling – feel them. Really fully feel them. This is a bit like what I discussed in Acceptance Without Exception. The key is to allow yourself to feel the things you are feeling. It sounds obvious but more often than not we try to push away our feelings in lieu of “letting them go.”
So many things in this world are out of our control. Awful things happen all the time and we truly can’t do anything about them. Our only choice is to just let them be. Again, some people will say, “you can’t control it. So just let it go.” But to me, this is a hypocritical statement. How am I supposed to let something go if I wasn’t in control of it in the first place?
In my mind I picture “letting it go” as taking something as heavy as a ton of bricks and attempting to sling it away from yourself shot-put style. This technique will prove to take a lot out of you and possibly even harm you. On the other hand, I picture “letting it be” as a solid, flat line, a bench perhaps, on which you can place all of your heavy emotions and just let them sit there. If you choose to attempt the shot-put-like slinging of bricks, you’ll probably be at it for a while. That shit is hard. But if you choose to gingerly place the bricks on a bench and then sit with them, you can rest easy.
Incidentally, Paul McCartney’s message behind his hit song fits well with my topic today. The story behind “Let It Be” is that Paul’s deceased mother, Mary (not the virgin Mary as many listeners assume at first), came to him in a dream during a particularly stressful time in his life and very gently and reassuringly told Paul to “let it be.” He claims he awoke with a fresh view on life. He felt he had received the message to be gentle with yourself and go with the flow without fighting things.
The main message here is that even when society keeps bombarding you with the message to let it go, you can, in your mind, change those words to let it be. You’re mad that you didn’t get the job? Let it be. You’re allowed to be mad. Work through that anger. You’re upset over that dumb thing that you did last month? Let it be. It happened a month ago. It’s in the past. Let it be there. You’re scared about that big test coming up? Let it be. Fear isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes it motivates us to do better. How about you let the fear be there, but do it anyway!
So, sorry Elsa, but I will not be letting anything go.
I will be letting it be.