Why Let it Go?

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A good friend of mine, who is also a highly successful leader, found it especially hard to access serotonin and let go of words his daughter spoke. He was still grieving the death of his wife and best friend when asked to babysit a new grandchild to accommodate a date night. My friend quickly offered a resounding, “Yes,” and began to look forward to time spent with the new baby.

The axe fell though, when his daughter handed him a long list of basic things he needed to do for the baby’s care while she was away. From his words to me, I recognized my friend read his daughter’s list as if it shouted, “You know nothing about caring for your grandchild!”

Our brains come with special serotonin-fueled equipment that helps us let go of hurtful words or actions, even a perceived jab, in order to move forward with our lives.

Wherever unforgiveness or stress slips in however – we need another uptick of serotonin to help us move forward. A statement that lands a blow from loved ones doesn’t need to sink us,  if we let it go before its toxins stick.

When Disney’s movie and song, Let it Go, came out people emailed me that the movie industry stole my theme from a blog I posted on this topic in 2008 titled, “Let it go!

Serotonin allows us to let go of problems or roadblocks that block possibilities. It releases our brains to address life’s tougher and more hard-hitting conflicts, with courage. An admirable quality, this chemical usually works well over time to help us drop things that sting, in order to lead things that succeed.

In contrast, my own response has often been to  fix problems, try to improve things for all, and to discuss alternative solutions. Lately though, I am learning deep hidden values in the hard work of  letting more go. You?

In relational or personal struggles, do you tend to let go?

Three examples emerged from leaders at my last brain conference:

  • When people close to you show disinterest in your life’s call – do you let it go?

  • When people you care about deeply speak up to criticize you but rarely tell you they love you – do you let it go?

  • When others boast of attention,  promotions, or special favors you’d wanted too – do you let it go?

Serotonin lowers mental barriers, making it easier for us to let go, so that we can begin to rewire our brains’ ability to move on in refreshing ways. Serotonin offers far greater ease. Yes, especially if it’s difficult at first to “let it go,” the way my friend felt when babysitting his grandchild.

Barriers to letting go,  come from past rejection or hurts we tend to store up and replay  whenever similar situations arise.

Our serotonin fueled brains react differently to hurt or sizzling emotional let downs. Not that we grow immune to words or actions that sting. It’s just that a serotonin-fueled ability to “let it go” opens a fresh new window beyond that sting.

Speed bumps that once slowed us down begin to yield to freedom we feel on the other side of letting it go.  Eventually it gave my friend freedom to respond to his adult kids in caring ways in spite of their detailed babysitting list, and freedom to bond with the baby by simply ignoring some demands written on his list.

What’s been your experience?

Do you feel resentful, or find it hard to cope when disappointments show up? Or have you learned how to find enough serotonin in a day, to help you move past hurts – both real and perceived – that are sure to show up at times?

Looking to build more serotonin in your circle or setting?

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Created by Ellen Weber, Brain Based Tasks for Growth Mindset