Yesterday, I wrote an introductory post about the letting go method by David Hawkins. The letting go method is a simple and effective way to process and regulate intense emotions. It involves staying with the emotion without expressing, suppressing, or trying to change it in any other way.
When you stay with an intense emotion, it runs its course, and it subsides. The next time you feel it, its intensity diminishes. As you keep using the letting go method, the once intense emotion eventually disappears.
The Pitfall of the Letting Go Method
There’s a pitfall when applying the letting go method. When you stay with your emotion, thoughts stemming from that emotion will come up. The danger here is to dwell on those thoughts.
If you pay attention to those thoughts, if you invest more mental energy into them, or in other words, if you dwell on them, you’ll only make the emotion stronger instead of processing it and discharging it.
The trick here is to become aware of the thoughts, acknowledge them, and let them go while staying with the underlying emotions. This requires some mindfulness which you can develop over time with practice.
The Emotional Labor Required by the Letting Go Method
So far, the letting go method might sound easy. Make no mistake, it’s a simple process. It requires only some basic knowledge of your expression and suppression mechanisms, but it can require some serious emotional labor at times.
When you’re hit with intense emotions of anger, fear, or sadness, you might get overwhelmed when you try to stay with them. In such cases, David Hawkins suggests that you stay with the emotion to the extent possible, and then express or suppress the remaining part of the emotional energy consciously.
How Does Letting Go Heal Your Psyche?
The letting go method requires your mindfulness of your emotions, especially the ones that you’re suppressing. This can be hard at times because it requires self-awareness and honesty. You might be angry, but you might not realize that you’re angry or you might deny it.
You need to acknowledge your emotions to be able to stay with them and to let them go. The emotions that you’re able to feel, acknowledge, and let go are the ones that are closer to the surface. As you let those superficial emotions go, more emotions will come up from the depths of your psyche.
David Hawkins makes a distinction between suppressed and repressed emotions. Suppressed emotions are the ones that we felt but decided to avoid consciously.
Repressed emotions are the ones that weren’t recognized consciously. They are trapped in our psyche, impacting our thoughts, choices, and behaviors, and we aren’t aware of them.
By letting go of suppressed emotions, you enable the repressed emotions to come up. As they come up, you apply the same technique to the repressed emotions. That way, your psyche is being cleaned up from emotions that were trapped in your subconscious for a lifetime.
If you want to learn more about how the repressed emotions get trapped in our psyche and impact our lives, I recommend the books Breaking Free and the Disowned Self by Nathaniel Branden, which are available in Open Library.
Connections between Emotions
David Hawkins mentions shame, guilt, apathy, grief, fear, desire, anger, and pride as lower levels of consciousness. He suggests letting go of thoughts and emotions stemming from those levels. You might think that desire and pride are positive emotions, but Hawkins defines them as weakening.
Another interesting idea from the book Letting Go is that all the emotions from those lower levels are connected to each other.
For example, you’re afraid of heights, and you have public speaking anxiety. By working on your fear of heights, you’re also indirectly working on your public speaking anxiety. Moreover, by working on a fear, you’re also working on your anger, grief, guilt, and shame.
The connection between emotions makes the letting go method a power tool. You don’t need to figure out all of your negative emotions and to work on them separately. You can work on any negative emotion as it comes up. That work will have a healing effect on all others as well.
Hawkins encourages working on your negative emotions proactively. In other words, he recommends to go toward the eye of the storm. Do you have a fear of heights? Go to a high building and face your fear. Do you have public speaking anxiety? Find an opportunity to get in front of people.
The goal of the letting go method is to let go of the thoughts while staying with the emotions. Distinguishing between thoughts and emotions is a challenge at the beginning because thoughts and emotions are tightly connected. We need to be aware of the danger of dwelling on thoughts which would increase the intensity of emotions that we’re trying to discharge.
Intense emotions are hard to endure. That’s why our knee-jerk reaction is to express or suppress them. It requires some serious emotional labor to stay with them. It’s a muscle we develop over time.
The letting go method is like a detox mechanism for our psyche. It not only discharges the energy of the emotions we feel at the moment, but it also cleans up the emotions that are trapped in our psyche for a lifetime.
Emotions are connected to each other in our psyche. When you discharge the energy of a specific fear like social anxiety, you also discharge the energy of all fears. Moreover, you also discharge the energy of other emotions like anger, grief, shame, guilt, and so on.
Can you imagine how fulfilling, peaceful, and joyful your life would be if you let go of your fears, anger, shame, guilt, and grief?
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.