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You Don’t Have to Let It Go

black bag of woeWhen I get mad or sad and someone tells me to “let it go,” I get madder and sadder.

What terrible advice that is. “Let it go.”

Ugh. What does that even mean?

And anyway, it’s impossible.

You can’t let go of what happened. It went down exactly the way it did, so there’s no changing (or “letting go” of) that.

You can’t let go of the feeling you’re left with, either.

The feeling has to “let go” of you first.

I ranted about this (albeit in my quiet way) in this week’s post on Psychology Today:

Why “Letting It Go” Might Not Be Such a Good Idea

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting you go around stamping your feet and letting everyone know you’re ticked off.

I’m just advocating self-compassion. Give yourself the room and the time to process how you feel.

Don’t be in a hurry to get over it by trying to “let it go.”

Photo courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Tina Gilbertson

Tina Gilbertson is a psychotherapist, speaker and author based in Denver, Colorado. She specializes in supporting parents of estranged adult children through therapy, consulting and other resources, and offers assertiveness training and executive coaching for organizations. The author of "Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them" and the "Guide for Parents of Estranged Adult Children," Tina is often featured in the media as an expert on communication and relationships. Her blog on PsychologyToday.com is called "Constructive Wallowing."
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0 Responses to "You Don’t Have to Let It Go"

  • Kathleen Paveletz
    November 23, 2014 - 5:03 pm Reply

    It comforts me to here you say this. Recently it took me over a week to deal with my feelings about an event that had occured. The whole thing bout made me sick, but I believe I needed to feel these feelings in order to get through it. In the end I realized that this was a generous life lesson I was allowed to learn, but it took time, then time to heal. I am a better person for having the experience.

    Kathleen

    • Tina Gilbertson
      November 30, 2014 - 3:41 pm Reply

      Sounds like you were open to the experience on every level, starting with the emotional impact, and that you benefited from that openness, Kathleen. I’m glad the post spoke to you. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

  • starfish6193
    November 24, 2014 - 6:48 pm Reply

    I hate it when that happens, too. And I find it useless to try to explain my point of view. So sometimes I wait until the same thing happens the other way around and remind them of their words by repeating what they had said to me. The tricky thing about that is to say it in a way that makes them understand your point of view without causing them to remain ignorant of the result of their infuriating statement. I think when people say that kind of thing they are often trying to find a quick fix for an otherwise sticky situation. And perhaps due to their own unresolved issue that may be triggering them to want to stay superficial and avoid dealing with all of the “feelings” part.

    • Tina Gilbertson
      November 30, 2014 - 3:46 pm Reply

      This is an insightful comment, Starfish. I think it’s true that some people want to stay superficial to avoid stirring up their own unresolved stuff, and that they might prefer to seek a quick fix over getting deeply into the “sticky-ness” of the situation. There is widespread fear of emotions out there. Hopefully as emotional literacy is taught in more and more schools, people of the future will be comfortable with their own and others’ feelings. Thanks for weighing in.

  • Porcelaina
    December 9, 2014 - 6:37 am Reply

    I have this exact problem with my mother these days. My mother-in-law just died a few days ago, and I went with my husband to his home country half way around the world to be with him and his father, the only family they have left. We are both only-children and so it’s been such a difficult time for my husband and his dad, and also for me, especially in this different culture without knowing the language very well.

    Whenever I call my parents to talk and try to tell them what is happening here, my mother just isn’t interested and says “just get over it – what do you want me to say?” She doesn’t want to talk about anything ‘morbid’ and the worst part is that she just plays golf and tennis every day, and never has any sense of reality or what is important.

    I am trying to reach out and feel very alone here, even though my husband and I are very close – instead of being interested, she just says “let it go”.

    It seems such an easy and insensitive thing to say at such a difficult time, and it honestly may cause an even larger gap between her and I in the future.

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