A big part of my job is to stay up to date on what’s hot in the events, meetings, conventions, and speaking industries. Many times, the best way to see and gauge what’s hot, is to be there in person. So, as we roll into high convention and tradeshow season, I’m about to embark on a lot of travel. Like, I’m actually only going to be at my house maybe five to seven days collectively in the month of August.
I both like and regret the travel. The person who gets itchy feet when she’s in her office too much wars with the person who wants to see and hang out with her husband and kids. I also know my regret is completely a #FirstWorldProblem. I’m actually getting paid to go to an event where they feed you, make sure you get to see cool and exciting things, and visit different places. Like I tell my kids when they complain too much about hotel carpet or airplane layovers (yes, I know it’s not normal but there it is), the regret is one of those things, I need to take my own advice (that I give many times solicited and unsolicited) and “just get over it”. Which made me think of the Mary Poppin’s song that you’ll now have playing in your head for the rest of the day (you’re welcome, it could have been that song from Frozen, non?)
Many times in life, both at home and at work, we’re faced with choices, decisions, people, or changes that we just need to “Get over”. Sometimes they’re not what we planned for, or they are and we’re still not ready for it. Sometimes they’re really big or sometimes, like with my travel thing, they’re small. Regret and or grudge holding does hardly any good. And in fact, holding on to it can lead to health problems. There’s scads of research from psychologists to cardiologists. It can also make you a generally cranky person to be around because then you’re that person who can’t let it go. Whether you’re the bunny boiler from Fatal Attraction, Carrie who can’t let Big go (see SATC seasons 1-7), or just that person who’s had the same argument over and over again with their parent, child, or employee, we all struggle with getting rid of the “it” without baggage.
Here are five great tips for letting it go (with teaspoon of sugar or a shot of tequila).
1. Accept that there are some things you cannot change
I always joke that the Serenity Prayer is not just for those recovering from addiction. We’re all recovering from something. I am a event and learning director. I am a wife. I am a daughter. I am a friend. I am an employee. I am a mother. Therefore, I will face every day something that I cannot change, no matter how much I plan or strive to ensure against disaster. Acceptance has to be the first step that you’re not in control of “it” even if you were responsible or accountable for “it”. I accept that as part of this great job I have, there’s lots of travel sometimes. It is what it is, you know?
2. Accept that you control your reaction and self
You’re not always in control but you are always in control of yourself. Like with grief or change, there’s a cycle of getting through “it” but you can usually control your actions in taking the steps to process it. And if you were responsible or accountable, put in a process to mitigate it just let the regret or grudge go. Apologize, talk it out, send an email, or thank you card, or make a conscious decision to not do that again. I can’t get angry with my spouse or staffer when they get frustrated with me because I’m not physically present at a thing due to my travel, but I can put my reasonable self in their position and ensure that I’m responding in a way that helps find a win-win, and a solution we can all get mostly on board with. Getting pissy because I’m tired and by mid-August, don’t necessarily want to be getting on yet another airplane, helps no one.
3. Physically, mentally, and spiritually apply yourself to let it go
In Hindu meditation, the art of speaking a mantra repeatedly lets the meditation allow you to cleanse yourself of the thing. In Native American and Celtic lore, some tribes use sweat lodges to get the bad out, in Catholicism, priests and a confession box are the intermediary to find absolution, in some forms of therapy, you write it down on a piece of paper and put it in a box and then throw the box away, or you go to the gym and beat it out a punching bag. Whatever your thing is to work it out, go do that. The act of actually letting it go works on a fundamental space in our brain. It’s why we teach children to count with physical items. When they can feel and touch it, it makes the concept so much easier. The same thing happens when you physically feel the departure of the regret or “it”.
4. Accept that you’re not alone
And if you can’t or won’t process through those steps, ask for help. Or if it’s not a processing thing, figure out with a group, mentor, or someone else that gives you distance and perspective, what you need to be figuring out. There’s always someone to help. This comes in the form of complaining to your friends, following the steps of escalation to correct an issue at work, or getting professional help for the big stuff, whatever that might be in your life. Figure out a system at work that helps offset the bottleneck you create by not being physically present, hire some part time help (like Penelope Trunk’s fabulous house manager she makes standard as part of her executive contracts) to give your partner a break with the kids, confess to your therapist, book club or priest. Find an outlet so it doesn’t eat you up and bring everyone down.
5. Accept that it will likely happen again but that you have the option to change outcomes
People are people. Circumstances are circumstances. The old saying, “Shame on you, shame on me” has some real applicability here. But sometimes, as with Murphy’s Law or the first bullet point I mentioned, things happen. And that’s okay. Each time you learn something, just make sure you’re learning the right things so you’re not like Sisyphus.
Because once you “get over it” you can move to the next step of what’s next, without holding on to the emotional stress of the “it”. Take you medicine, with or without the sugar, and don’t let whatever “it” is continue to influence you unduly, or hang over you when you do get to go and enjoy yourself.