Let It Go: How To Not Let Things Bother You
By: Jon Jaehnig
Updated July 29, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Avia James
If you have any experience with meditation, prayer, (or the movie Frozen), then you have heard the advice that you need to learn to let things go in order to feel greater freedom and happiness. However, letting go of worry, stress, and hurt can be harder to accomplish in reality. When something bothers you, just how do you let it go? Is there a way to learn how to not let things bother you? Yes, there are strategies available to help you do this. The next time you are dwelling on something negative, try one of these techniques.
Practice the Art of Not Holding onto Thoughts
Meditation is one of the best ways to learn to stop dwelling on things that bother you. Mindfulness has been shown to help people stay in the moment and learn to be with themselves. The most basic form of meditation is to sit quietly without interruption and focus on your breathing. Listen, feel, and visualize each inhale and exhale.
While you are doing this, other thoughts will come into your head and when they do, let them go.
This is meant to be practice for keeping your mind clear in the first place. However, it can also be a helpful
practice for letting thoughtsgo. Letting a thought go does not mean forcing yourself to forget it or ignoring issues you need to take care of. You can take steps to follow through on other things later. Mindfulness practice is not the time to solve problems. It is an opportunity to sit with your thoughts and let them be for now. At that moment, you acknowledge the thought and accept that you are thinking about it. Then, notice the thought floating away like a cloud and bring awareness back to the sensation of breathing in and out. By doing this, you can use this technique outside of structured meditation time to calm down, breathe, and evaluate whether something that is bothering you is worth spending your energy on. It can be helpful to think about breathing in grace, positivity, and energy and to breathe out stress, tension, and negative thoughts. There are many guided mindfulness exercises available online at no cost if you find it easier to get into practice with someone guiding you. Music can help focus attention on the exercise instead of getting stuck on thoughts also.
Stop Talking About It
Complaining seems like a natural response to feeling upset, but talking about a problem excessively does not always actually help you. Meditation is about mindfulness, paying attention to the present moment. Complaining, on the other hand, is an activity that stimulates your mind to stay worried about the past or future. It is a habit that you can learn to control with practice. When you complain, you take what is probably a small problem and make it big and personalize it.
For instance, if you have ever been cut off while driving, you know it can be scary and infuriating. Rather than raging against the person in the other car, you can take a moment to consider that they are a human being who is making decisions about their actions. You can't read their mind and know why they did what they did. They may not have seen you, which (although unsafe) means that their action was not intentionally done to bother you. Or they may have made a poor decision because they have an emergency (maybe their family member is in the hospital) and they are rushing; you just do not know.
When you realize that the actions of others are (probably) not a personal attack, it is easier to make the conscious choice not to let those actions bother you. You can learn to let these events go rather than keep talking about what happened to the next person, and therefore prolong how much the event bothered you.
Mind you, complaining is not the same as being open to vent about something that is bothering with someone because you just need to get that off your chest. In some instances, it is better to talk about your feelings than just allow them to stew inside. Once you have done that however, say to yourself that you are going to set those thoughts aside and try to move on.
Put It in Perspective
If you find yourself ruminating on a certain subject, a helpful exercise can be to ask yourself, "What is the most likely thing that can happen"? Then follow that thought through to its logical conclusion. You will probably realize that whatever happens, you will still be able to get through it. The anxious brain often focuses on the worst possible scenario. It is important to keep in mind that you will not know what is really going to happen until you do it. Recognize that the nerves that you feel have started from a thought you are creating in your head about what might or could happen, not what actually will happen. Thinking through how you will handle different possibilities in a certain situation can really help you deal with how you will overcome the situation for yourself. Ask yourself questions like: "How much will this matter to me tomorrow? What about one year from now?" This can help to put brief moments in time into perspective.
Let Go of Control
Oftentimes, we can find ourselves overthinking things that we really have little control over. Like the old adage says, we can free up a lot of mental space and find more calm if we can learn to accept the things we cannot change and change the things that we can. Oftentimes, we cannot change or control the random events of life or the behaviors of other people. We can change the way that we react and respond to these things, so instead of focusing outwardly, focus on being the healthiest that you can. Being healthy will help you to weather and overcome whatever life may bring.
How to Not Let Things Bother You so Much
Despite the fact that you cannot always control the things that happen to you or the things others think and do, you can control how you decide to respond. Letting something bother you causes stress and unhappiness for yourself. Instead, make the choice that brings you more happiness by focusing your energy somewhere else. For those times when you just can't let it go, consider talking to a licensed counselor for support. The online counselors at BetterHelp are here to help you learn to let things go in a healthy way. Sometimes, we have to forgive others or even ourselves in order to let very heavy things go. Working with a counselor can help you to develop new strategies and tools for increased well-being and greater contentment. Services through BetterHelp are convenient, as you can communicate with a therapist online from home or wherever you have your smartphone. The platform is also affordable compared to traditional therapy, and always confidential. Take the first step to a healthier and more fulfilling life.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Know When to Let Go?
Let’s face it: some things that happen in life are things that you should shrug off and stop letting things bother you, while other situations deserve your attention.
The best way to know the difference is to ask yourself what you can do about what’s bothering you. If there’s something that you can do about the situation, do it. You’ll feel a lot better. If there really is nothing that you can do about that given situation, decide to let it go and chalk it up under “How to not let things bother you.”
What if I Can’t Let Something Go?
So, you’ve read this whole article about how to not let things bother you and there are still things you can’t let go. What then?
If this is the case for you, that’s when talking with a counselor or therapist might be helpful. They can help you find the closure that you can’t get from the situation, and help you understand why it hurt you so much in the first place.
Are there Ways to Stop Letting things Bother Me in the First Place?
If you’re asking this kind of question, you’re starting to really get it. Knowing how to not let things bother you in the first place is much more useful than knowing how to let things go after they’ve happened.
In Alcoholics Anonymous, a program for helping people quit problem drinking, they often give the advice “don’t take other people’s inventories.” We touched on this idea a little bit earlier in the article.
A lot of the time, when we let things bother us it’s because we’re worried about what other people were thinking about the event. It’s impossible for you to know why someone else did what they did, or what they may have thought about what you did.
A lot of learning to stop letting things bother you is really about worrying about your experiences rather than trying to read the minds of people around you.
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