We’ve all been there. You know, that uncomfortable place where we feel strongly that we need something, yet realize that we are just not going to get what we want. This happens in all areas of life, but perhaps none as painful as when it occurs between you and your partner — when you experience disappointment in your relationship. Yuck.
Not getting what you want, or in some cases, what you need, is usually accompanied by an avalanche of dirty pain, i.e. the negative messages you tell yourself that only highlight your sob story. Thoughts of not being worthy, loved, cared for, valued by your partner burst to life in your head, and in your heart. How sad.
Often times, we can just shrug our shoulders and move on — isn’t life full of disappointments anyways? Other times, depending on what it is, it feeds upon our psyche like a hive of termites, eating away at our inner peace, and ultimately affecting our relationships. And sometimes, the grip on our needs is so intense that we give the “My Way or the Highway” ultimatum.
None of these reactions (especially that last) are expressions of our best self, nor are they emotionally healthy. All of them keep you in slave-mode to both your own inner demons and to your partner’s willingness to please.
But when you’re ready, we can reverse it, by turning “My Way or the Highway” into “My Way or the High Way”. Rather than giving your partner the ultimatum to do your bidding or take a hike, take the higher road and point your finger towards yourself instead.
Learning to Let Go
One of the most powerful steps in finding true freedom is to become very adept at the art of letting go. Not getting what you want, what you need, is an incredible opportunity to re-evaluate your priorities, learn to be grateful for what you do have, and move on from definitions that imprison you. Letting go also frees your partner to be who they need to be, without feeling pressure from you to show up a certain way.
This practice is so foundational, that it is a basic step in my Personal Freedom methodology.
3 Steps towards Letting Go
- Self-Compassion. If you are experiencing anxiety, anger, shame or frustration over something, give yourself the gift of fully feeling that emotion. You are human, and will have bad-days, negative thoughts, and painful emotions — embrace them fully for the time being. Allowing yourself to experience your emotional reaction empowers you to understand it, and ultimately move beyond it. Conversely, suppressing your emotions is like packing a rotten sandwich away for a rainy day – it just gets worse with time.
- Question Yourself. Do I really need this? What would happen to me if I never got what I wanted? Who would I be? Often times, a perceived need chases you around for years, if not decades, controlling you. What would happen if you let it go, and kicked it out of your life for good? How great would you feel? Ditching the desires that imprison you often free you up to become a new person – an amazing upgrade that will look back and laugh at who you used to be 🙂
- Solutionize. How are you going to handle the new you? What thoughts, attitudes and behaviors are you going to adopt that can soften the impact of the stress you may feel? What new healthy coping mechanisms can you employ that compensate / reward you for your new decision? Letting go of old beliefs, habits and needs can be difficult. Having a healthy replacement is key to strengthening your new attitude.
- Bonus Step – Faith. For those of you who are inclined, a wonderful and important step in letting go is faith. Believing in the kindness of a higher power, and that all that comes to you is for the good, helps tremendously in loosening our tight grip on “reality”. This pivotal approach helps turn the corner from victim to survivor to thriver!
Let’s take a typical scenario as an example. You’ve been working for years at your company, and are poised to get the promotion you always wanted. Long story-short, it was given to somebody else, and you are devastated. Feelings of depression, anxiety, anger and frustration are swirling around your head, and you just cannot get them out. Let’s practice letting go.
- Feel your feelings with compassion. It sucks to be overlooked / bypassed for a promotion, especially one that you have worked so hard for. You are angry, for good reason. You deserved it, and are really disappointed and sad. Nobody could blame you for feeling lousy, at all.
- Question yourself — who would you be without this pressure that you must have this promotion? What would happen to you if you never got the promotion? What would that say about you? Are you still healthy? Are you still successful? Are you still a good person? Are you still qualified at what you do? What significance does this promotion really have? What are you making it mean to you? Why? Is this your only chance at success? Enjoy the freedom that accompanies letting go of this imprisoning need.
- Solutionize your situation. What changes are you going to make to help yourself adapt? Perhaps you are going to start working less and enjoying life more, knowing that your efforts in this company are not recognized. Perhaps you will start looking for a new job with less pressure? Perhaps this is an opportunity to switch careers to something you have always wanted to do? Perhaps you will actually work harder for the better position somewhere else? Treat yourself to optimistic, helpful positive thoughts
- Faith – See the good in this situation. Lean-in to the belief that this was orchestrated by “The Universe” for your benefit. Find peace knowing that all is well and will be well in your life, exactly as it should be.
Getting what we want in life will always be our first choice. But that just isn’t realistic. Nor is it beneficial. The choice of “My way or the High Way” is always in front of you. Which path are you going to take?