Letting go of anything that is meaningful in some way – be it relationships, jobs, negative emotions, belief systems, or ideals – is probably the most difficult, painful, confusing and growth-producing thing we encounter as humans. In fact, it’s what Buddhism refers to as “the original cause of suffering” – our attachment to outcomes. This has been a pretty big theme for me this year; more so over the past few days and it seems to be the case for a handful of people near and dear to me as well. I figured I’d put the energy to good use by writing something (hopefully) worth reading.
The basis of Buddhism is a doctrine known as the Four Noble Truths. The First Truth is that all life is suffering, pain, and misery (unfortunately, Mental and Emotional Release® didn’t exist back then). The Second Truth is that this suffering is caused by selfish craving and personal desire (also known as our “needs”). The Third Truth is that this selfish craving can be overcome (or so they say). Which brings me to one of the teachings I picked up from Deepak Chopra in my tenure at the Chopra Center: it’s called Acceptance and Surrender (the Law of Detachment). It is in this teaching that I’ve learned to roll with uncertainty and how to be okay with what is happening right here, right now.
Acceptance and Surrender are the seemingly paradoxical wonder twins some of us love to hate. (Okay, ‘hate’ is a strong word and a negative emotion so we’ll use ‘loathe’.) Ancient wisdom and modern day teachers (myself included) often tout this term on a regular basis and truth be told, the pain and confusion of letting go aside, it’s an incredibly valuable practice to cultivate. Here’s why:
Holding on is pointless because we have no control over outcomes
Holding on rigidly to our attachment of how things turn out is pointless because we have no control over the majority of the things we experience in life. Granted, some things we can decide to do – like eating the chocolate cake (or not), working out (or not), clinging to our story (or not) – and yet, the bulk of the things we hold near and dear to our hearts are out of our control (will my children grow up to be good people, when will I meet my soul mate, will I get the job promotion I really want?). Pretty much all day (every day) we’re exerting tremendous amounts of energy trying to control people and outcomes, and when that energy isn’t returned to us in the way we’d hoped we fall apart at the seams. We blame others, we judge ourselves and we downward spiral into a shit storm of negative emotions that reinforce our limiting beliefs – and then we find another opportunity down the line to do it all over again. Energetically, this creates baggage (negative emotions and limiting beliefs) that are stored in both our psyche and our physiology, which ultimately leads to illness and, in some cases, cancer.
Letting go of the form helps us better manage our emotional states
So, here’s the skinny (generally speaking): the concept of acceptance and surrender invites us to see our vision, set our intentions / goals and to take action toward that which we desire. The Universe digs direction and it needs us to provide some level of specificity. Then, it begs us to let go of the form. Meaning, we need to let go of our expectation of what “it” should look, feel, sound or be like. Letting go of the form helps us to better manage our emotional states which enables us to channel the energy in a positive way. It also creates clarity for us to see the gifts, lessons and opportunities that are right in front of us.
Sometimes acceptance is preceded by the act of making a conscious choice to let go of something (or someone). This can be the worst kind of letting go. Being the initiator of the process can easily be just as excruciating as being on the receiving end. And, in other cases we may find ourselves in a circumstance where something has already happened and we have no choice but to accept the situation and surrender to the process of moving through it.
This is when the majority of people will seek an escape route – alcohol, exercise, shopping, scrolling through social media, eating, sex – anything to numb us from the reality of what is happening. When this happens, if you can catch yourself in time, this has the power to be a pivotal moment in time when you have an opportunity to practice the art of becoming an alchemist (turning something painful into gold). There is always a higher level of learning waiting to be revealed if we can just stay present to the practicing of accepting the situation and letting go of our old attachment to it.
Letting Go and Healing the Heart
Case in point: As some of you know, when my teacher and mentor, the late Dr. David Simon, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in June of 2010, he asked me to continue his work at the Chopra Center through the Healing the Heart program. David and I had been co-facilitating the event together for a number of years before his diagnosis. When he passed in January of 2012, I found myself officially on my own and holding his torch. The loss of David took a huge toll on me – and everyone who knew and loved him. I felt confused standing there in his shoes, on his stage – not knowing how to put one foot in front of the next. All I knew was that anything less than honoring him and sharing my gifts with those who needed help – would be unacceptable. I had to accept that he was gone and embrace that he had helped me see my path. I had to override the loud voices in my head screaming at me to run like hell. I had to surrender to the teachings and everything I’d spent a decade practicing. In the years since David’s passing, I have grown into my dharma and I now thrive on helping others find their way.
In April of this year, the “powers that be” at the Chopra Center opted to resign me from the stage David put me on. The blanket statement issued was that they felt having two doctors run the event would better serve the guests. I was shocked. I went through all the normal human emotions one goes through when the rug is pulled out from beneath them. I cried, I shouted, I laid in bed for a day wondering why this was happening, what I had done wrong and if I had let David down. I felt like my foundation had just crumbled from beneath me.
If you cannot practice what you teach, how can you expect to help others?
Then I got up, dusted myself off and I did my work. I had a choice in that moment. I could spend my time and energy making other people wrong and judging myself or I could accept what happened and surrender to whatever the Universe had in store. I chose to lean into love. I spent this time practicing everything I teach to others. I lovingly allowed myself to be with – and fully process the emotions around what had just happened. After I had processed the experience, I pulled out my toolbox of practices and set about using Mental and Emotional Release® techniques to let go of my negative emotions and the limiting beliefs that had surfaced about being abandoned, thrown away, not good enough, unwanted, etc.These are the same techniques I teach my coaching clients and students. Having the tools and techniques is one thing and putting them to use is another. If you cannot practice what you teach, how can you expect to help others?
Empowering Your Life
After I had let it go, I reset my trajectory and began moving in a new direction. I developed a NEW program called Empowering Your Life® where I guide people through a similar process that David taught me and also teach them how to do Mental and Emotional Release® techniques with themselves so they, too, can be self-empowered. This live 3-day program will debut March 3-5, 2017 in Newport Beach, California, and I am excited to be taking what I’ve learned to greater heights.
So there you have it. Shit happens to all of us and at the end of the day we have a choice. We can choose to be a victim or we can choose to use the experience to grow, evolve and become empowered. I now know that the Universe had something much grander in store for me and that is to venture out into the world to share the teachings in my own way. I still get to carry on David’s legacy and I also get to expand upon it. I know that is what he would have wanted and I know that people will benefit greatly from this work. While this experience sucked while I was going through it, I now understand why the Universe had to unfold things in the way it did. This is the true art of alchemy.
Moral of the story: Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same. Whatever you’re going through, I promise there is a reason for it – even though it may not be evident in this moment. Choose to stay present to the process of moving through it; be with the emotions and trust that everyone is doing their best from their level of awareness at the time. The Universe has grand plans for you, too.
*For more information on how you can let go of past negative emotions, limiting beliefs, anxiety and phobias click here.
An International Bestselling Author, Lifestyle and Leadership Coach and speaker, Tris Thorp is one of today’s leading experts in the field of personal growth and leadership development. Having spent a decade traveling the world, being trained by and sharing the stage with Dr. Deepak Chopra in the field of social emotional learning, consciousness and mindfulness-based practices, Tris has a real gift for integrating the ancient spiritual teachings with modern-day science and mindfulness to help people all over the world let go of their past and create an empowered new future.
During her tenure at the Chopra Center, Tris apprenticed under the Chopra Center’s co-founder Dr. David Simon, co-facilitating the Healing the Heart and Emotional Freedom workshops alongside him. Prior to his passing in 2012, Dr. Simon appointed Tris as the person to carry on his teachings in the field of emotional healing. In addition, Tris was fortunate to be mentored by the late Debbie Ford prior to her passing in 2013, which is where she continued her extensive studies of the unconscious mind and concepts of the persona and shadow. After the loss of her two mentors, Tris went on to become certified through the Ford Institute as a coach specializing in Shadow Work and reconciling mental and emotional issues stemming from past experiences. She continues to share the gifts of emotional healing and facilitating this work in the footsteps of her former mentors.
Tris is the International bestselling author of Healing Your Heart: Rewrite Your Story with Awareness and Intention. A guide book to understanding your emotions, how we create our story and workable tools and techniques to heal from the past, Healing Your Heart stewards you through the process of releasing mental and emotional baggage, forgiving yourself and others, setting and enforcing boundaries and consciously communicating your needs in a loving and effective way so you can be who you’re meant to be, do the things you want to do and have all that you deserve to have in this life.
Tris is also the co-author of bestseller Mental and Emotional Release® with Dr. Matt James. Written in a language both professionals and non-professionals can understand, Mental and Emotional Release® offers real life case studies, an overview of MER and its foundation, step by step scripts to follow, and clinical efficacy studies comparing MER to other therapies.
Clearly in her dharma, Tris’s passion and dedication to gently guide people on their inward journey through personal growth is evident in her work as a Lifestyle and Leadership coach, Trainer of Mental and Emotional Release and workshop facilitator. She teaches various courses on leadership development, personal empowerment, social emotional learning and higher states of consciousness – both in online courses and her certification programs, live workshops, VIP retreats and 1-1 clients.
Tris Thorp is Board Certified by the Association of Integrative Psychology as a Trainer of Mental and Emotional Release ®, Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming, Hypnosis, and Mental and Emotional Release ®, a Certified Reiki Master, and an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance.
Tris is devoted to inspiring and empowering others to cultivate and maintain mindfulness-based lifestyle practices that lead to greater clarity, purpose and fulfillment. Through one-on-one coaching, online programs and live events, Tris specializes in helping people to fully release negative emotions, limiting beliefs and unconscious patterns, enabling them to make quantum leaps into the life they are truly meant to be living.