Hi Adam, what do you think is the best method to let go of a troubled past? In particular, how do you let go of what people who have seen you act in a certain way think of you?
Hi, thanks for your question.
How to let go? There are different things I could say.
The first is to just let go. As a choice. The previous post on the blog was about choicelessness, so this may sound contradictory, but in some cases people can recognise that something is no longer serving them, and then consciously let it go.
Not push it away, not make it disappear, but cease clinging to it with your attention. To no longer fight it and try to tussle with it or fix it. This is easier when you let yourself feel how you feel, when you let yourself hold on, for instance, then there can be a natural letting go.
Sometimes that can seem too difficult. Choosing to let go can seem too hard, because the energy may feel as if it is too strong, too much a part of yourself that it does not even seem to be at all detached from you.
So, if you can not just let it go, then let yourself hold on. Be a space for the holding on. Let the energy cling to the past and to these ideas and movements as much as possible.
There may be a belief that you should hold on, that you should be concerned about what people think and what happened in the past. A large part of our conditioning is often to impress, to be seen as good and of value, and so this kind of holding on can sometimes only feel natural, when we have been taught that it is our job to impress people.
Impress the teachers, impress the parents, impress the other parents, impress the friends, impress the employers, impress the judges, impress the clients or the customers. A large part of our culture is impression-based, and so we can feel as if it is literally our job to be seen in a certain and good light.
But it is not your job. See that clearly. You are not responsible for the thoughts and reactions of others, because you can not control what they think or how they react. That is why it can feel so painful to care what people think, or to be concerned about it, because it is never something in your control, whilst there is a futile attempt inside to do so by thinking about it.
It can help to see that you can not be at peace AND hold on to caring how others perceive you. You can not be at peace by clinging to the past. If you are concerned about how others see you or saw you, then let yourself be that way, but do not expect to be at peace through it. We often search for peace at the other side of approval. But it is never achieved that way, because people’s opinions and ideas about you are very fickle and unstable, they can change in an instant, even at the hearing of an untrue rumour, people can change how they think of you. So to cling to all of that is a futile effort. Futility is not a bad thing, but when recognised, creates space around the energy.
The same for the past. You can not be happy AND be clinging to the past. So there is a choice. You can not have both at the same time. You make a kind of sacrifice. Clinging and holding on means that you sacrifice peace of mind, but it means that you gain a separate sense of self, you gain a more tangible, personal identity that feels apart from everything else. Letting go, letting yourself let go, means that you sacrifice who you thought you were, who you were told you were. In a way you sacrifice your whole conditioned sense of self, and you gain peace of mind. It is up to us.
But the old stuff may come back, even if you choose to let go. If it comes back, that is fine, the aim is to not obliterate feelings, it is to embrace them, to be a space for them, to not have a preference whether they are there or not and all the while not be tricked into believing the anxious thoughts that appear for a short while.
None of this is resistive, none of this is condemning yourself or your feelings or anyone else. How is the clinging helping you? In all honesty, is it?
If it is clearly seen that it is not, then nothing else needs to be done. It leaves by itself. If it still feels sticky, you may believe on some level that it gives you something, as I mentioned before. It give you an identity, a timeline, a life made of ideas. There can be a mental addiction to conflict and the sense of time, because the mind fears what lies beneath it.
But there is nothing to fear or worry about. I hope that can help.