Sunday, November 14, 2010

Letting Go: Stress Reduction Made Simple

Worrying is a waste of energy.


Because you can't do anything about what you're worrying about.  If you could, you would have done it (or you should have done it). As a mother, I worry about my kids when they're driving to and from school, visiting their friends, going on trips.  Can I keep them any safer by worrying?  The sad truth is that I cannot.

I'm learning that when I experience the familiar symptoms of worrying I need to do the following:
  1. Evaluate the situation.
  2. Determine if I can do something about it.
  3. If I can, then I do it.
  4. If I cannot...and this is the hard part...I have to let it go.
Yesterday I was talking with my niece who just interviewed for an internship program.  She had prepared as well as she could for the interview, and she felt it didn't go the way she had planned.  Her interviewer was needed elsewhere, so he chose a substitute who wasn't as skilled as he.  My niece was fretting over the interview and how she felt it didn't go the way she wanted it to.

My advice to her was to let it go. 

We evaluated the situation, and determined that what could have been done had already been done in her preparation for the interview.  The result, now, is totally out of her hands.  She will accomplish absolutely nothing by continuing to worry about it.  She will, quite literally, waste time that could be spent on something else.

I remember the moment I learned that I could not change the world. My own daughter had auditioned for the Youth Symphony.  She had played with them the previous year, but each year everyone must re-audition.  She came out of her audition weeping. She felt she had not performed well at all. I was totally helpless. I considered marching in and asking them to allow her to re-do her performance. But, after evaluating the situation, I realized that this is part of life, part of the growing up process, and that Mom can't make everything right.

We talked about the audition, what she might have done to have prepared herself better, but then we moved on to the "letting go" part.  This was hard, but if we could all "let go" more often, we'll be happier people.

Instead of going home and worrying about whether she got the position, we spent the day together, just Mom and daughter time.  We had a great day.  She made it into the symphony and learned a good lesson about letting things go.

I don't know if my niece got the internship yet or not, but I do know that she is one of the top two candidates.  One of them will get the position, one of them will not.  Neither she nor I can do anything at this point to change the result.  It's time to enjoy this moment and let go of what we cannot control.

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