What’s really bugging you?
You can choose to let that go.
Is something really bothering you?
Does a thought or memory come up into your mind again and again?
Especially when your mind starts to wander?
Can you identify what that thought or memory is?
Is something really bothering you?
Does a feeling wash over your body? Make your jaw clench, your stomach turn, your heart beat faster?
Can you identify what that feeling is?
Does the thought or memory make you feel something?
Does the feeling make you think of something?
Do you enjoy experiencing this thought or feeling over and over again? No? Well, then, let’s let it go, shall we?
In order to really get to the root of the issue, we need to match up thoughts or memories with feelings.
When I think about _______________ I feel _________________.
Bonus: That feeling makes my body physically feel _______________________.
Here’s an example we can all relate to:
When I think about my child, I feel a type of intense love I never experienced before having a child. I physically feel my heart swell in my chest.
Want to let this go? Me neither; I wanna keep it forever. Let’s pick a yucky one.
When I think about my birth, I feel angry. I physically feel my jaw clench and my heart beat faster.
Want to let this go?
Here’s where I want to be really clear: I am not asking you to let go of your birth. I am asking you to let go of the anger you feel whenever you think about your birth if you want to. Let’s keep the memory of the birth forever, but let’s change the way your body responds when you think of it. What do you say?
Here’s how you let it go:
Notice you are having the feeling or the thought. You might notice the feeling first (your jaw is clenched) and ask yourself, “I am feeling angry; what am I thinking about right now?” or “I am thinking about my birth; what am I feeling right now?”
Pause. Right about now you may be tempted to judge the feeling you are having: “I have a healthy baby. I shouldn’t feel angry. I should feel grateful.”
Stop that, please. Tell yourself to stop shoulding all over yourself and just let yourself feel your feelings.
Where were we? Oh, yes, we just identified that thinking about birth equates to an angry feeling.
Ask yourself, “Do I want to let myself think about my birth and feel angry right now? Or do I want to let it go?”
Let’s say you want to let it go. Now, let’s say you are pinned under a baby nursing and you can’t go for a run or head to therapy or even reach your phone to text a friend about it.
Say to yourself, “I don’t want to be angry about my birth anymore.” Deep breath in through your nose, strong breath out through your mouth. Repeat this a few times.
Next, find the anger in your body: “I feel the anger in my jaw. I am relaxing my jaw and letting go of my anger.” Deep breath in through your nose, strong breath out through your mouth. Repeat this a few times.
Find another spot in your body where you feel the anger. Relax that area of your body. Let go of the anger in that spot.
Continue searching and breathing until you feel like you have breathed it all away for the moment. Finish with, “I don’t want to be angry about my birth anymore.”
Be prepared to do this sequence again and again and again.
We ask the question “What’s bugging you?” because these thoughts and feelings are often like obnoxious gnats. They come back again and again and again and you swat them away each time until eventually they just don’t come around anymore. Or maybe they are still there but they just aren’t bothering you anymore.
You may be tempted to judge yourself when the thought/feeling comes back multiple times, requiring you to let it go again and again. Don’t do that. This is part of the letting go process. Be nice to yourself, please.
And then, there’s “holding on.”
Sometimes we ask ourselves the question “Do I want to let this go?” and the answer is no. Sometimes we find comfort in the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. Sometimes we want to wrap ourselves in sadness and a precious baby and just be “in it.”
It is okay to do that for a little while. Just promise yourself that when you get tired of carrying the weight of all those heavy feelings, you will let yourself try to let them go, just a little at a time.
And promise yourself that if you simply can’t bring yourself to want to let it go or your can’t let it go even if you try, you will seek the help of a therapist to help you do it.
You are the only one who can choose to hold on or let go.
It is okay to let go now if you are ready.