Musings

Let it Go…

Image: Disney

At the risk of giving you a week long ear worm…how do you let it go? (I warned you!)

A while ago I posted about the energy I was feeling to tackle some of the issues I was seeing respected female colleagues dealing with first hand. Leaning into that energy enabled me to set up an incredible network of amazing women leaders. We meet monthly to support, challenge and encourage each other through a range of issues, questions and complexities.

In our most recent meeting, one of these incredible women asked

“How do you let it go?”

So, how do you? How do you move past criticism? Past negative self talk? Beyond the mistake you made? Leave behind the grotty day at work.

Put to the group, a few answers came forth.

Question your thinking errors

I recently went to a workshop run put on by HPMA by Anna Herko. As part of the day she introduced us to a simple and effect questioning tool to try and reduce the impact of negative thinking (thinking errors). Roughly broken down, ask yourself:

  • what was the negative thought? (describe the event or situation)
  • Out of 100%, how true is that thought? (really feel into it)
  • What is the evidence for that? (What is the real evidence for it? Are you really ‘bad at your job’ or does everything you touch really ‘fall apart?)
  • What are the alternative explanations? How does this feel now? (She might have been in a bad mood when she shouted at me, I catastrophised that I am dreadful at everything in my job, when really I only made one small, simple mistake)

The idea is that by the end of the exercise, you are more able to view the event from a more objective and evidence based viewpoint

Breathe

Another colleague sent through a useful breathing exercise for immediately relief as soon as you notice that you need to ‘let it go’. A simple one is just to do some box breathing.

  1. Find a comfortable space when you won’t be disturbed for a moment. Close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose while counting to four slowly. Notice as the air enters your lungs.
  2. Hold your breath and count slowly to four. Try to maintain your relaxed body posture. Be still.
  3. Breathe out slowly while counting to four.
  4. Repeat step each step at least four times, or until you are feeling calmer.

Box breathing and other breathing exercises can lower blood pressure and provide an almost-immediate sense of calm. It has also been shown to reduce stress and improve your mood.

Data and Curiosity

The final tip was around noticing. It builds on the thinking errors approach. Treat the event as data. Be curious about it. Remove the emotional context and explore what the thing is that you want to let go of. Why? Is that the real thing, or is it attached to something else? Sometimes when we want to let go, we need to really explore that thing and understand the impact on ourselves, others and what is within and without of our control before we can.

Treating feedback and events as data helps us to remove the emotion and heat from the situation and explore it as information which we can choose to keep or dismiss.

What else helps you let it go?

(Can’t wait for Frozen 2!)

Find this useful? Want more? Follow my Instagram account for women leaders, and all others who find themselves juggling all the plates, Quiet The Hive.

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