How to Let It Go

“Let it go”.  Such a cliché line.

Letting anything go is not easy. Generally we hold onto things because we’ve been hurt or there’s been an injustice.  There could be a lot of reasons, but the real reason we can’t easily let things go is simply because we haven’t taken responsibility for our own actions in the situation.

I know that stings a bit. But let me explain with a few real life examples:

First, a Personal example: 

I had been dating this guy for a while when I first caught him in a lie.   I forgave him and we went on.  Then he lied again. But I was in love with him. I wanted to make things work.  Everyone who knew him talked about how brilliant we were together and that he was such a good man.  Then he cheated on me.  I dumped him.

But not until three years after the first lie.  

For the longest time I couldn’t let it go.  I was hurt, angry and felt like I had been manipulated.  And then one day I realized I wasn’t mad at him as much as I was mad at myself.  How could I not see so clearly that he had no respect for me?  And did I honestly believe THAT was the first time he cheated on me?  Of course not.  I was mad at myself.  I was angry with not “getting it” earlier.   But once I accepted responsibility for my own actions, or lack thereof, in the situation, I was truly able to let all thoughts and feelings of this person go… in effect, actually, let it go.

Now please, don’t misunderstand – acknowledging your role in the circumstance doesn’t mean you did anything wrong.  Clearly, I wasn’t the one who cheated.  But, when we know better, we do better (paraphrasing the great Maya Angelou here).  And acknowledging my role in allowing this man to be a part of my life when he had no respect for me from the beginning…well, that’s on me.  Maybe I could have forgiven him the first time – but three times? Three years?  Now I know better.

Here’s another example from the Business point of view:

I was working with a group of people on a huge project – we were a team.  And every morning we would discuss the plan for the day and how we would accomplish the goals that we had set with our clients.  Various times I would come up with an idea and later in the day this other woman who was playing “team leader” would take all the credit for MY idea when we would present our end-of-day analysis to our boss.

At first I tried to blow it off and tell myself that it didn’t matter, it was a team effort.  But she continued to do it.  And she did it so brazenly that it kept me up at nights – I couldn’t sleep.  Other people in the group kept telling me to let it go and honestly, that just made the angst in my chest worse.  Finally, I realized that if I wanted her to stop taking credit for everything, I needed to take responsibility and let her know how I felt.  The next day, I confronted her professionally at the morning meeting with a list of all the ideas she kept taking credit for that I felt was inappropriate.  I listed all the specific ideas that belonged to other people, myself included.   And I told her, that it was creating an uncomfortable environment for me – either we were a team and it was a team effort, or it wasn’t. And then I reminded her that she couldn’t do this herself.

Little by little other members chimed in as well showing support for my conclusion.  She was voted out as “team leader” and I was put in her place.  From that day forward, credit was given to the team. And if one individual soared above all others in some specific thing that changed the course of the project in a positive way, special credit was always allotted to that person, not to the team leader.

Yeah, I slept beautifully after that. Dealing with a situation makes it real easy to actually let it go

Even with Death, it takes work to actually be able to let someone go 

One of my dearest friends, died three years ago. Honestly, I’ve been having a hard time of it since he was found in his bed. He had died in sleep and had been there for about 5 days.  For whatever reason, after two memorials, spending time with his family and friends, I still couldn’t stop thinking about him.  It wasn’t a sorrow of loss, but something else.  Something wasn’t sitting right with me.  Again, people kept telling me that I just had to let him go.  And the more I kept hearing that phrase, the more I realized that it meant absolutely nothing…  You can’t let someone or something go when you still have something to say or do.

So I sat down and wrote my friend a letter.  A long letter. And I realized pretty quickly, I was angry with him. Pissed actually.  Surely, I missed him, but we had had some plans, some unfinished business and…  I needed to say it all. Angrily. Sadly. And then, I found myself smiling, laughing even.  Ultimately, I realized it wasn’t his fault I was missing him.  His death was such a shock – and it was unfair to lose someone so young and so healthy.  I had to acknowledge that before I could let my dear friend rest in peace…  and finally, for real, let him go….

So how do you actually LET IT GO?

By figuring out the problem. The real problem.  By answering the question as to WHY you have such angst. AND using a very proactive approach to stop feeling the way you’re feeling.  Look at the problem from a different point of view – and then taking responsibility for it.  Letting it go isn’t about ignoring the issue or expecting Time to magically fix it.  It’s about figuring out the problem and then doing the work to ease your own pain. Once you heal, it’ll be easy to move on through the situation.

Some Carmen-ism Tips: 

  • Try not to use the cliché line let it go when trying to comfort someone. It might make YOU (the consoler) feel better, but it never really helps the person in the predicament in the long run.  I know AA folk and religious folk like to say “Let go and Let God” a variation of the same thing that is always brought up when I start this topic of conversation.   Again it may sound good and come from a good place, but sometimes God needs us to use the brains we were given to get through a problem.  “Let go and Let God” sounds nice, but rarely ever works and rarely ever helps on its own.
  • If you have a feeling of angst, or something that you can’t just let go of because you know someone has done you wrong – then do some self-reflecting. And what I mean by that is, as hard as it may be, try to see what your role was in the event.  Look at it from that new perspective. Remember, knowing your role or accepting your responsibility in the situation does not mean you are to blame. But it will give you the first tools to really move through the angst regardless if it’s personal or business related  – and maybe you’ll also seeing a silver lining (there’s always a learning moment, even if it’s not easy to see at first).

Once you take responsibility for your role in the situation, then you can choose what to do next.  End a relationship, confront a person about their misgivings, write a letter to let your feelings out or whatever may be an option for you.  Either way, it gives you back some control on how you’re feeling and really is the best way to start the process of healing.

Hope that helps.

Keep on keepin’ on.

Carmen

Remarkble

 

 

 

 

 

Get The “Fudge” Back Up!!!

Success in anything isn’t all about talent. It’s not even all about networking. Certainly it’s not about luck since I don’t believe in any form of luck – good or bad.

The formula for success is an intangible formula to calculate. All the “gurus” always have some answer in “three easy steps” and always for “$249” or something like that – eeh, pahleeze don’t believe the hype!   The formula is different for everyone – no one has the answer for your journey except YOU!

But the one thing that I am sure of, without a doubt, is that success is all about perseverance.  And what does that exactly mean?  It means that every time you fail, every time you fall, every time you get kicked, every time you see no hope, you find a way to get back up and try again.  Dust yourself off or don’t dust yourself off, but get the fudge back up and try again.  Never let anything stop the path you’re on.  It’s your journey. Your dream.  Your life.   Make sure you notice the signs along the way, because you’ll learn something valuable. Pay attention so you don’t accidentally veer off course or go the wrong way, but never give up.  Never ever give up.  And always know, yes, you have it in you to succeed.  We all do.  It’s the beauty of the human spirit.  We’re always trying to know more, do more, be more….  It’s who we are.  And that means, YOU too!

So… No excuses!  Figure it out and keep on keepin’ on!

Freezing in NH! "Persevering" to get my booty back to Cali!

Freezing in NH! “Persevering” to get my booty back to Cali!

Epic Failure: Taking My Own Medicine

I sometimes find myself working as a consultant generally helping start-ups move forward.

This particular start-up company that called me in is a mixture of freelancers and employees.  They were working business black suitwith a pretty high profile client on a project that seemed to take forever. Unfortunately, they didn’t understand or take into account the financial ramifications of what it would actually cost them to produce their art.  So they ended up losing money.  In essence, the small promising start-up company ended-up paying to work.

To add to the loss of money they endured, the client whose project they worked on for months, decided not to use their work and went with a rival company instead.  That stung for sure.

When I was asked to help these creatives unravel their problem with finances I simply told them:  “The issue you’re having is you don’t fully understand your own value as an artist. You don’t get the big picture.”

The room went uncomfortably silent.  They seemed stunned.  How dare I? And what could I possibly mean?   The vibe I was getting felt like they were all secretly screaming – We’re designers and absolutely understood our own work, crazy lady.  Eeeh, I kept on…

“Look, art is a beautiful thing. Being creative is magnificent and all of us have to find it within ourselves to express who we really are – – and some of us do that by designing, some by writing, and others by being teachers, actors or whatever.  But being creatively brilliant isn’t enough.  It is, if what you’re going for is being creative in your bedroom or basement and only showing your stuff to your family and friends. But if you’re going to put your art out there and expect people to buy it, then you’re going to have to learn the other part of being a creative person – and that involves ALSO understanding the business end of the spectrum. That’s what I mean by not understanding fully your value as an artist.”

Lightbulbs seemed to be going off above some heads. So I continued on:

“Look, I saw your boards. I saw how meticulous it was that you scheduled time for each frame, for each character, for each part of the story. I saw the schedule you put in place for each person’s time on each individual thing. But what I didn’t see was that same dedication into billing for that time, or any time frame for revisions and costs to those adjustments.  I don’t see a budget anywhere that includes things like materials, overages and/or calendar changes.  Basically, a client offered you money and you took it without a thought to any of that. Creating art as a business isn’t just about the design. It’s about something bigger than that. The technical stuff. The money stuff. The marketing stuff. Business is the umbrella, but under that umbrella is a lot of other “stuff” to understand and master to make it work and to make it profitable. ”

They got it.

“Let’s talk about what someone earlier called an ‘epic failure’.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, mistakes are going to happen.  Not just in business, but in life.  It’s never an epic failure to make a mistake unless of course you make the mistake over and over and over again and never learn from it.  If you learn from the mistake, then it was a valuable lesson and one that should be embraced and then let go. Period.  Consider it a learning moment. That’s a good thing.  It’s an education.  And education is never free.  Change your perspective to a positive about this particular project. It feels better and helps you move on…”

Well the vibe in the room seemed lighter.  They got it.  Applause.  I felt good.

And then, just as quickly I realized I had to make a note to myself — so on my phone I quickly typed in a memo:  You know what would be really great Carm? If you actually practiced what you preached and took some of your own medicine!

Ahhhh….a perfect example of a “Carmen-ism” for sure!

Two minute movie review: Paddington

When it comes to movies, I’m rarely surprised.

This weekend I went with my beautiful 6 year old God-daughter and her mom to see the movie Paddington and we had the best time!  Talk about being surprised!

Laugh out loud funny moments for both kids and adults.  A story line that works brilliantly, with wonderful acting, great music moments (one of my favorites without giving anything away – I’ll just say two words:  Lionel Richie) and a beautiful teddy bear that feels life-like right from the start – Paddington is great fun and a perfect family movie that all will appreciate and certainly enjoy!

Oh, and just to add a little more – it teaches empathy, love and about what family really means (and a whole bunch more).  We give it two bear-paws up!    Enjoy!