She would sing this phrase whenever something really frustrating, out of her control, and/or just too stupid for words happened in her personal or professional life. In the work we were doing at the time, it seemed she sang that phrase multiple times a day.
Lots of people struggle with the act of letting go. I mean, it's easy to say or sing about letting it go but do we really let it go? How do you actually do it? How do you know if you have actually let it go?
What a skill to have, to be able to let go of select parts of the past, truly be present in this moment and, in doing so, produce the future we want. How productive would that be?How much more would we enjoy work and life in general?
I was determined to figure it out.
Folks who get me know that I spent a lot of time staring at the ceiling trying to figure it out, praying about it, meditating about it, and asking folks who seems to be able to let it go how they do it.
They all said, "Just let go." It felt like being in a Joseph Heller novel.
Finally, I thought to ask the one person in my life that seems to know everything and yet is so cool and unassuming in her brilliance. My wife let me in on the secret to just letting it go.
The secret is the act of forgiveness. Forgive not only the object of our frustration but also, as importantly, forgive ourselves.
That seemed right and at the same time another version of "Just let it go", only bigger and a little more meat to it.
So next question I had was; how do people forgive? I was looking for a process. After a talking with many people, reading books like, You Are Here by Thich Nhat Hanh, and trying many things, I arrived at the following steps:
Step 1: Acknowledge What Happened
It happened. It was said, it was thought, whatever it was it was. It can't be changed. It can only be learned from and transformed into something positive. Talk it through with an impartial third party. Tell it to your diary.Talking and writing about it vents the emotion and enables detachment. With detachment comes an opportunity to choose.
Step 2: Take Responsibility for Your Thought, Words, and Actions
You were in the situation too. You are responsible for you.As Gandhi said, "Nobody can hurt me without my permission."
Careful here, it's not about finding fault. It's about recognizing what happened and owning our choices. It's about having compassion for yourself and others.
Step 3: Determine What is Possible Going Forward
In everything we have choice. Even in things out of our control, like being laid off from a job, we can choose how we respond to the situation. We can decide to be compassionate, build bridges, communicate, and learn or we can decide to withdraw, entrench, attack, and stagnate.
It's totally up to us.
Decide what was gained from the experience. It could be anything from a new skill, way of thinking, important contacts, and realignment of priorities, a new potential career path or product. It could also mean saying good-bye to people in your life that aren't enrolled in your future vision. Again, you decide and declare.
Step 4: Vow to be Different Going Forward
Get specific with how you will change and your vision of success in terms of you'll act, speak, think, and feel. Frame your choices in positive, action centered, declarative statements.Write them down. It helps defeat the saboteur that lives in each of us. Review these statements whenever the saboteur appears.
Step 5: Give up your Right to be Angry, Hurt, Righteous, or Whatever at the Other Person(s), Situation, and Yourself
Declare that you've put down the torch. Decide to act compassionately toward others and ourselves, and actually doing it, leads to healing. When emotions bubble back up, as they sometimes do, acknowledge them, remind yourself of your declarations, and take action. This action might include attempting to rebuild relationships. Recall that everyone has choice.It's important to respect others choices, even if they are ones we don't want.
Step 6 Act as Though the Situation Never Happened
Here's where taking responsibility for ourselves and the choices we make hits the road. Notice we don't forget, suppress, tell ourselves a story, or perform/fake it. We're choosing to live the vows made in Step 3, acting on our choices, and taking responsibility for the outcomes.
Again, the steps seem easy. Just decide, just be, just declare, just act. Each step, though, requires work to uncover and complete the situation, to make sense of it in our minds and heart, and to enable us to move forward without baggage. It's the baggage we carry that poisons our present and robs us of future opportunity.
The steps are, indeed, hard but get easier with practice.
You know when you've forgiven completely when:
- The situation doesn't stop you from being as you intend in the present moment.
- The situation has no power and doesn't inhibit you in anyway.
- You can have a happy, fun dinner with the object of your frustration.
Is using these steps rewarding? Absolutely! The payoffs of being present and deciding to be open come back in stronger professional and personal relationships, higher performing, engaged teams, and a happier life at home and at work.
Need support implementing or want to learn more?
Contact me through www.McGinnisConsultingGroup.com.