Whether or not you’re a fan of Disney, I’m sure you’ve heard the hit song “Let it Go” from the movie Frozen. I’m a die-hard fan of Disney movies so I’ve memorized the lyrics to the song and know the plot of the movie better than I should for a 27-year-old woman without any kids. However, if you struggle with anxiety, panic attacks, fears etc., then this is the movie for you because it holds the well kept secret to overcoming anxieties: “Let it go.”
That’s right, overcoming anxiety is not about the perfect combination of medications, therapies, or online programs. It’s not about paying off that credit card or getting that new job or finishing the semester. Overcoming stress and anxiety and panic is simply about letting go of those emotions. I don’t want to minimize your struggle with anxiety; letting go is SO much easier said than done. Stop and think though – where does anxiety and stress come from? They come from trying to control a certain situation, from worrying how others think of you, from forcing a career or degree or a lifestyle you think you should be living, from telling yourself scary “what if” stories about jobs or grades or finances. The list goes on and on but you can see common themes like control, resistance, force, and fear.
It is natural and even helpful for us to worry briefly about the future, but when we hold onto that worry for long periods of time and do nothing about them, it causes stress and anxiety. For instance, if we have a busy day ahead of us, we may worry that we won’t be able to get everything done. If we act on that brief worry, writing out a list of all those tasks or even rescheduling one of them, we may allow ourselves to “let go” of the worry. However, sometimes such worries stick and replay in our minds again and again even after we have acted on them. At that point, the brief worry is no longer helpful, and instead begins to cause us repetitive thinking, stress and anxiety.
Continuing to try to control or resist or force a situation, continuing to fear an uncertain future after we have already done what we can does not serve us or help us to progress in any way. In fact those negative emotions do just the opposite; stress and anxiety are powerless to fix the future, but are very good at ruining the present. The only way we can be financially stable, confident and happy in life is if we let go of those negative emotions and drive ourselves toward that life rather than allowing those negative emotions to drive for us. It is important to understand that letting go is not the same as giving up. Letting go is recognizing the negative emotions we are holding onto and shifting perspective from a fearful and stressed mindset to a “so what?” mindset. If you can train yourself to “let go,” you can overcome your anxieties. So, I challenge you to think of a situation where letting go would serve you well and e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.