At least once in our lives, we have all heard the phrase ‘Just let it go!’ from friends, family, or even a figure of authority. This piece of advice could have come to us out of context, something we read in a self-help book, something we tell ourselves when we feel overwhelmed by something which is out of our control, and many such scenarios. Although people are always telling us to ‘let it go,’ not many people tell us how we can do this.
A task which sounds more straightforward than it is, ‘letting it go’ is a process, an art, a reality which we all must face at some point in our lives. Unfortunately, no 10 step program will teach you to let it go. The art of letting go is a tough, arduous, and overwhelming process in itself; however, it contains one single truth which we have to learn- the fact of accepting reality.
Leaving your home to inhabit in a foreign country sounds exciting and alluring to many people. However, along with this sense of adventure and novelty, curiosity and amazement, also comes the feeling of being foreign, of not belonging, and often, not being able to find your place in the country.
When living abroad, there will be a multitude of novel experiences, cultural dissimilarities, and merely dumbfounding traditions that you might face. In many cases, people find themselves having a hard time adjusting to these. It is also not uncommon to face certain prejudices when living abroad, especially from unfriendly locals.
The answer here is not to pick up your things and leave the country, retreating to familiar territories. It is the opposite. The only solution here is to build your place in a foreign land and learn to fit in comfortably.
Unfortunately, this process is not easy, and it brings us back to our concept of learning to let it go.
Here are a few everyday difficult situations you might face when living abroad:
- Unfriendly locals might call you names or hurl racial slurs your way, even without any provocation on your end.
- You might receive slightly different treatment in school, college, or your workplace for various reasons not pertaining to your immediate performance.
- You might have to compromise on what kind of cuisines you enjoy eating, or have been used to eating, and familiarize yourself with local cuisines.
- Someone might laugh at you, mock you or provoke you for not being able to speak their local language fluently.
These are just a few everyday situations that might occur when living abroad, but these situations can be challenging to handle, especially if you are on this journey alone. There is no doubt about the fact that you will have to handle this alone. You might have moved abroad with your parents, with your spouse or kids, or even a friend, but the individual journey you face will have to be faced alone.
The best way to deal with these difficult situations when abroad is to master the practice of ‘letting it go.’ Now, you might wonder how this might help you in the above scenarios. Well, the first thing you need to do is come to terms with reality. The minute you try to hold on, you are bargaining with the past. You are trying to negotiate in a situation that is simply not in your hands. Coming to terms with reality means looking at the situation from a neutral perspective and trying to understand how you can make the situation better.
Remember one important point- you will never be able to control someone else’s actions. You might bargain with reality, telling yourself that maybe if the locals were friendlier, you would not face this situation. You might say to yourself that you would perhaps not be mistreated in the class or at work if only your teachers or your bosses were more understanding. Well, true, but that is not really in your control, is it? Merely wishing that another person had different characteristics or traits does not make it a reality.
The only way to calm yourself in this kind of a situation is to accept the reality.
Yes, maybe you were mistreated. Yes, perhaps you don’t know the local language well enough, so it provoked others to make fun of you. ‘Letting it go’ means accepting this reality, and moving on from it, because you cannot change it anyway.
When we choose to hold on to something instead of letting it go, we are mostly doing great harm to ourselves;
- We may be overthinking the situation and causing stress, losing appetite and sleep, or becoming irritable
- We try to control and change the actions of other people who we have no control over
- We are deeply hurt and saddened and might regret our decision to even move into the country in the first place
The importance of learning to let go is simple- you have to do it for your peace of mind.
When you are faced with a difficult situation where you know reasonably well, you will not be able to control or change, the only control you can have is over your reaction to the situation. Of course, these things are easier said than done, but at the same time, it is not impossible.
If you keep thinking of yourself as the victim in a situation, you will surrender to reality and prefer to keep yourself in a tight bubble of illusion. This will not do anything to change your situation or keep you calm.
Instead, practice facing reality, in all of its raw, sometimes unfair, real form. Once you start doing this, you will notice that so many things are, in fact, out of your own hands. And the only way to face the problematic situation is to face it with the attitude of letting go, moving on from the difficulty, and trying to find a way to get yourself into a better situation.
Be it at your workplace, in a relationship, in school, or simply in a random incident- look for the solution calmly, and let go of the anger, hurt, resentment and bitter emotions you are holding.