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.








Dear Me: I Take Responsibility Newtown

*Taken from my journal last week.

Dear Me:

Today was a hard day.  I can’t stop crying.  I don’t have children, but still.  What happened in Newtown hurt me to the core.  Not sure exactly why.  I don’t think you have to have children to get it.  All the newscasters keep saying, “If you have children…”  What?  I have my God-daughter who I adore with all my heart…and that’s enough.  My neighbors and friends have kids.  That’s enough.  I’m a human being.  That’s enough to understand, to “get it”.  I feel it just as much as anyone else.

And maybe that’s exactly why I’m crying so much.  Those are my children.  My neighbors and friends kids are my kids.  How did we lose our way?  How did we forget that my neighbor is my brother, my sister, part of my human family?  How far away from each other have we gotten that we don’t even know our neighbors last name or the last time we saw them come home?  When did we lose touch with each other?

That child, that killer – how did we let him grow up to DO that?  Yes, I take responsibility.  We don’t care about each other any-more.  We only care about what is “ours”.  And we only care about others when tragedy unfolds.  We’ve become so selfish, so self-absorbed we don’t care till someone hurts us or harms someone we love.  And then all we do is blame. We blame everyone else but ourselves.  The media, the healthcare system, guns.  And then the media, medical profession and the NRA blames everyone else.  The media says they’re just “reporting the news” or “it’s just entertainment”, the medical profession claims it has “no funding” and the NRA says, “guns don’t kill people…”.

Lord have mercy on all of us. So much finger-pointing, so little self-reflection.

I always tell people we need to do better when we know better – but the truth is I can do better.  I can tell people all I want to do better, but I can only change myself.  I can be a better steward of my fellow human beings and not just when things are tough, but when things are okay too.  I need to reach out and love my neighbor.  I need to stop complaining about what’s wrong and do something about it.  And I’m not exactly sure how to do it, but it might start with sending a letter to my Senator and my Representatives and telling them exactly how I feel.  Maybe knocking on my next door neighbor’s door and introducing myself might be a good start?  I don’t know.  But something’s gotta give, because what we’ve been doing, isn’t working.  Something has to change.

Now, I’m not looking for a “kumbaya” moment or anything, I’m just saying we have fallen so far apart where being social means jumping online and exchanging a few sentences or comments on Facebook.  And look, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it isolates us. It hinders us from actually being involved in people’s lives.   We send a quick text “Happy Birthday” and we’re done with that celebration. I’m sure I’ll get more than a few “Merry Christmas” text next week…it’s just the way we do things now.    There’s no longer a need to be involved because we’ve found shortcuts to get so many more things done now with technology, you know, because we’re all so “busy”.


No one and I mean NO ONE, is THAT busy.  Unless you’re looking for a cure to Cancer, or fighting in a WAR or doing something of that magnitude, you my friend are not that muther-fucking busy.  I don’t know anyone in my own life who is THAT busy (though all of us claim to be!).

We find so many excuses for NOT doing the right thing, instead of finding all the reason to DO the right thing, the hard thing, the good thing, the quality thing.  And the catch phrase we’ve become comfortable with is:  “I’m busy”. The underlying message is clear: you’re not a priority. You don’t matter to me.

Clearly, we were all too busy for the killer in Newtown Connecticut.  No one noticed his pain or his craziness or whatever it was because we didn’t notice him at all.  We can blame his mother or father or teachers or doctors – so much easier to do than to blame ourselves, right?  But the truth is I’m also to blame for not doing more to know my neighbors, to care for someone outside my own little “busy” world – to reach out and be there for someone who may need me. Who may just need my acknowledgement that they exist. That they matter.

And this is why I can’t stop crying.  Because I lost 20 gorgeous little kids today.  I lost 6 beautiful adults who had to sacrifice themselves to save others. I keep tearing because down deep inside I know, I can do better than this. I know I can do my part to make this world a better place…and I didn’t.  Because I’ve been too busy. Too self-absorbed, too selfish with my own little life.

I am so sorry Newtown.  I take responsibility Newtown.  And although it will not bring back our loved ones,  I will do better.  I promise.

Today, I’m making some changes:

  • I’m going to call my neighbor and touch base again with him and his family.  I’m going to reach out to some other neighbors I don’t know.  Luckily, it’s the holiday season, so it’s an easier way to say HELLO.
  • I’m going to write my two Senator and my Congressman and make known my issues regarding this tragedy as well as send a letter to the NRA voicing my opinion.
  • As far as movies/TV and video games are concerned, I’m not a fan of that genre in general so I’ve never watched anything so gruesome or bought anything so deranged, but I will go through my “collection” (if you can call it that) and see if there’s anything in there that may be watched accidentally by my little four-year old darling God-Daughter and put it out of reach. My problem with banning movies and TV is that I do consider them ART (at least the ones I buy and own)  – and although I do think there’s a freedom to an artist expressing themselves, I also think there’s a responsibility that goes along with it.  The artist himself has to deal with the consequences of his art, and the consumer of that “ART” needs to be smart about what it takes in. So, I can put the parental locks on my TV and my computer and not buy toys/games that promote…oh, for the lack of a better word:  stupid dumb-ass crap.

That’s a start. Somehow I feel a little better.  Still tearing, but at least now I have a plan. Something to work on. Hopefully, that will help me start to change things. I can’t change the world today, but I can certainly change me.



Links of interest:

To find your Senator: 

To find your Representative in the House: 

To contact the White House: 

To contact the NRA (The National Rifle Association): 

To search people/studios in the Entertainment industry: 

To contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness: 

To contact your Neighbor:  Step outside.

To change the world:  Look in a mirror.  Take responsibility.  And Love.

Are We Better Than This? Penn State.

*in case you don’t want to watch the video, here’s a sorta transcript:

I had planned to post a very different video blog today, but in light of all that has happened over at Penn State, I couldn’t help but change what I had to say this morning.

People are outraged that this horrific situation happened at Penn State and rightfully so.  But I’m not surprised.  I’m not surprised it happened at all.  And I’m not surprised that people didn’t do anything for so long, and when they did, they did the bare minimum.

I’m not surprised because I see it every day.  We are so self-absorbed as a society now a days, that when something bad does happen on the street or at an event or there’s a fight at a bar – people’s first reaction isn’t to get involved to stop it — No, most people’s first reaction nowadays is to break out their  iPhones and film it!

This lack of community, this apathy, this fear of getting involved is dangerous, it’s killing us — its destroying us.  And it’s a shame.

I think it’s easy to sit here and be appalled by people’s inaction after all these years — that people knew children were being raped by a 50 year old man.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s friggin’ outrageous on so many levels.  But do we honestly believe that when the big thing happens, when the big emergency happens that we’ll be able to break out our Superman cape and help someone in distress when we won’t even get involved in what we could call the “little” things in comparison?   We won’t  even help out our next door neighbor or the homeless guy on the street or assist the little old lady with her groceries.  All out of being self-absorbed or just not wanting to get involved.  Hell, who are we kidding? -most of us don’t even know our next door neighbors nowadays.

I think it’s easy to be outraged.  Hindsight is 20/20 after all.  The hard thing to do is to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “what have I done to help someone today?”

But we CAN change it.  That’s the good news.  We can always be better than we used to be.  “When we know better, we do better,” to steal a line from the great poet Maya Angelou.  And that’s my hope.

That as all of this comes to fruition, as all this unravels,  that we find a way to become a better people. We have to, we’re better than this.

On a side note, to all the Veterans out there — much love and peace to you, always.  Thank you for your service.

Till next week then.