Letting Go or A Practical Guide to Throwing Out the Garbage

By Dr. Arthur C. Hochberg

Garbage: resentment, anger, depression, self-pity—all of it keeps you from paying attention to lessons that you could be learning each moment.  If you are carrying around lots of old "junk" in your head, you need to start clearing it out—garbage from the past, present garbage, even anticipated garbage.  By stepping back, taking the time to understand, and then clearing out each scene of your life, you free up a little apace in your head and your heart so that something new and useful can take place. 

What keeps you from clearing out the garbage as you go along through the day is your self image.  As long as you feel that you have to keep defending your precious ego, you will use some or all of the above garbage mechanisms. If you can develop a better perspective on yourself, then you can do the work that is necessary to become "garbage free."

Let's have a look at the signs that indicate that you may be up to your knees in "garbage":

1. Hanging on to the "victim" trip
2. Not giving yourself permission
3. Clinging onto old hurts and resentments
4. Seeing yourself at the "rejected one"
5. Being too hard on yourself
6. Not being tolerant of others
7. Losing your sense of humor
8. Being selfish
9. Obsessing
10. Forgetting about the big picture

1. Hanging onto the "victim" trip. The first thing to be aware of is that you are experiencing exactly what you need to progress on your path. No two people have the same lessons to learn. So don't look at other peoples' lives and bemoan the fact that you don’t have they same things they have. This is jealousy, the foundation of the "victim" trip. You can’t possibly have the same things happen to you because you don't have the same things to work through. As you develop patience and contentment, you will realize that the events you experience are perfect for you. "This should have never happened to me" or "Why does it have to be this way?" are part of the ‘victim’ trip. Stay out of it.

2. Not giving yourself permission. You need to allow yourself to live in a way that will benefit both you and those who come in contact with you. You are the only one who can give yourself that permission. If you are always looking to others, you will be constantly frustrated and unhappy. Stop playing the "lame one," seeking approval. You can do this if you stop acting out old childhood patterns of looking for approval and rewards from the "grownup." Since you are the one who is defining who the "grownups" are, you might as well include yourself. 

3. Clinging onto old hurts and resentments. A real killer because there is an endless amount, and you can constantly find more to add to the list. This is a dead end. If you remember how many times you have hurt people, you have been inconsiderate, and you have been a jerk in general, you will be more honest with yourself and knock off the self-righteousness. The problem with resentment and feeling hurt is that both deep you in the past and you wind up missing all the lessons of the present. Besides, feeling hurt and resentful produces more hurt and resentfulness. In fact, it keeps you bound to the very people and events that you want to forget or go beyond.  Remember, your job is to work on yourself. It is the job of the job of other people to work on themselves, if they get around to it. 

4. Seeing yourself as the rejected one. So what else is new? Is there anyone around who has not suffered rejection? Don't become attached to an experience that your mind tells you is a rejection. If you hang onto the experience with that attitude, you wind up acting in such a downcast way that you actually bring more rejection onto yourself. Snubs and humiliations—imagined or real, are no fun. But your job is to learn from the situation and then let it go. The event becomes part of the past. The lesson is for you, but you'll fail to learn it if you are paying too much attention to what everybody else thinks about you. 

5. Being too hard on yourself. This kind of thinking produces another form of disastrous self-fulfilling prophecy. When you think ill of yourself, do you know what happens? Guess what! You don't do well in whatever you try, because you're judging yourself according to old notions about who you ought to be. If you stop beating yourself long enough to see that you are actually capable of doing thing quite well, this self-defeating approach will begin to disintegrate. You are capable of effort, success and health that you never dreamed possible, if you only loosen up expectations of yourself and stop trying to be so perfect. 

6. Not being tolerant of others. If you are hard on yourself, you are going to just as hard on others. How can you give anyone else a break if you not willing to give yourself a break? At the root of this intolerance is impatience. Work on being patient, and tolerance will soon follow. You might even relax and enjoy yourself and those around you. There's a good chance that others will like being in your company too.

7. Losing your sense of humor. This is another disaster, since no one wants to be around you when you have a "sour puss." Lighten up, and everyone will benefit. Besides, it will be easier for you to deal with everything because you wont be so uptight, trying to control everything and everybody around you. Don't be too embarrassed to look at your own shortcomings. In fact, there's always more margin for error than we think. The world really is quite a ludicrous place if you look carefully. 

8. Being selfish. A real secret is that when you get your mind off your own needs and start responding to the needs of other people, you begin to feel better. It's a real paradox: The more you do for others in an unselfish way, not expecting anything in return—even praise or thanks—the better you will feel about yourself. But the minute you try to help others so that you can feel good about yourself, you've totally lost the point. The good feeling is only happening because you are experiencing the underlying unity that exists amongst us all. Then everyone benefits.

9. Obsessing. Somehow people believe that if they worry enough about a situation it will either cause something to happen, change it, or even make it go away. Wrong on all counts. At some point you have to have the courage to move on. Give up the idea of controlling or wanting to change everything. Accept what has happened to this point, stop worrying, and leave the rest to God. Some people might even consider this prayer. It often happens that things work out in ways better than we can imagine when we let ourselves feel things and stop trying to fix everything.

10. Forgetting about the big picture. At best you are seeing just a small fragment of what is actually happening at any given moment. You are just experience your own perception. But when you realize that everyone else is also experiencing their own perceptions, equally true for them, then common points of love and unity among us all begin to emerge. Preserving our own self image is no longer the main focus. "Letting go" is going beyond our own individual egos to discover a deeper aspect of life.

Once you see the big picture, your efforts shift toward learning and understanding more about yourself and the world around you, instead of rummaging around in the garbage. You will begin to realize that whatever you see and experience on the "outside" is actually a reflection of what it taking place within you. You have that potential to know and understand, by direct experience. When you realize this, you will "throw out the garbage" in earnest. 

Hang on!