Questions and Answers
Email me with any questions that you have and I will post my response on
Q: What does it actually mean to "let go" of something
A: We all experience upsetting situations in our lives. The fact of the
matter is that these situations are, in reality, over and done but what is left
over are our emotional reactions to the situation. When I talk about letting
go I am talking about letting go of our emotions about the situation.
Q: But aren't certain emotions normal in a situation?
A: Of course they are. And it is not that we should not feel certain
feelings. The question is how long we hang on to the feelings. Some
people hang on to certain feelings way beyond their time. Some people
hang on to certain feelings for a lifetime and are never able to let go.
Q: This sounds a lot like "just get over it". Is that what I am
understanding you to say?
A: Telling yourself or someone else to just "get over it" is not what this
work is about. The truth is, we feel what we feel and we need to
acknowledge what we feel whether it is to ourselves or to another. Yes, we
do need to get over things for our own happiness and well-being but it is
more than just commanding ourselves to do so. We need to acknowledge
and accept our emotions for what they are, and to evaluate for ourselves
what a certain emotion is doing to us, how it is effecting us, before we can
choose to let it go. We also need to evaluate our resistances to letting go
because all of us have them. As human beings we often feel more secure
in our misery than opening ourselves up to the unknown of possibilities.
Q: You talk about therapy taking a short time. You've even used
words like "instant" therapy. How can therapy be so quick? I know
some people who have been in therapy for a long time.
A: One factor that often determines the length of therapy is the therapist's
viewpoint and definition of the therapeutic process. Many therapists are
steeped in the writings and techniques of Freud who gave a lot of
importance to uncovering early childhood experiences and developing a
"transference" with the therapist. And of course the assumption is that this
process takes a long time sometimes years or, as in Woody Allen's case,
a lifetime. Unless you are in psychoanalysis, the stereotype of "lying on
the couch" is a thing of the past. I do believe that we are a product of our
past experiences but it is the emotions that we carry in the present that
grew out of these experiences that are still with us. This is why the focus
on the present is essential. When you address your present emotions,
whatever they are, you are at the same time dealing with your past. You
don't necessarily have to go back and dig things up.
Q: It seems like your approach is too easy or even superficial.
A: I would say my approach is simple but not necessarily easy because we
still must address certain inner resistances. That is what usually takes
some time, and courage, to understand all of your fears and resistances
to letting go. And many people do not take responsibility for their
emotions and consequently get into the blame game, the victim game or
denial game, so we first need to identify the emotions and then unravel all
of the things that keep you stuck with it. When you can undo all of the
things that keep an emotion stuck, then it is a very short process to letting
go. If you are holding an object in your hand, it really takes no time to let it
go but if you are unwilling to let it go for whatever reason than you would
need to get to a place of willingness before you actually let go. But still, it
does not require a terribly long time to get to that place.
Q: What do you mean by "taking responsibility"?
A: It is a very good question, a word that we need to define because there
are so many ways to talk about this word. Taking responsibility is a key
that opens many doors. But when we use the word what are we really
talking about? If I say "I am responsible", am I saying "I am someone who
fulfills my obligations" or am I saying, "It is my fault" or am I saying "I am in
charge" of something. Am I saying, I "own" something if someone asks for
example, "who is responsible for this car?" or am I talking about "causing"
something such as, "who is responsible for this action"? There are legal
definitions and there are moral definitions. From a psychological point of
view and particularly when we talk about our emotions, taking
responsibility simply means that I own my emotions. These are my
emotions, they are not your emotions and you are not the cause of my
emotions. The way we disown responsibility for our emotions is when we
say, in so many ways, "you are the cause of my feelings" and if I believe
this then of course I am justified in blaming you, punishing you, nagging
you and complaining about what you do or did to me. It is a never- ending
circle until I break out of it by saying, "I own my emotions". When I own my
emotions or take responsibility for them, then and only then can I truly do
something about them. And doing something about them simply means
learning to let them go.
Q: But what about being superficial?
A: Well, if you call superficial as dealing with what is on the surface, it is
definitely the place where we begin but not necessarily the place where
we remain. Therapy is about dealing with the obvious, not searching for
hidden meanings. You can think of your inner life as one that is layered,
kind of like an onion. You are aware of whatever you are aware of in
yourself and that is where we start. But as you begin to remove these
layers, you go more into the depth of yourself. So it is a process more like
shedding old skin, letting go of the old making way for the new. You
cannot create a happy life on top of a shaky or negative foundation.
Q: Is your approach spiritual in nature?
A: My view is that we are spiritual beings, it is our true identity and nature.
To me, it is not a a concept or some theory. The truth is, is that we
typically don't identify ourselves as such. If I asked you the question,
"Who are you?", what would you say? You might tell me your name, what
you do for a living, whether you are married, how much money you make,
what you believe in and so on. The idea is that we have identified
ourselves with all of these things, our name, our work, our family, how
much money we make, our possessions, our belief systems and so on.
We can only begin to know ourselves as spiritual beings when we can let
go of our identification with these things. And I am not saying that we
should not have things; it's only our identification with and meanings we
attach to things that we need to let go of. When we can get to the point
where we can say, I have things but I am not those things then we begin to
open ourselves up to our true nature which is our spiritual self. Our
spiritual self is that which is the creator of our reality not the object of the
creation. This is not something that we typically talk about in therapy
because it is not necessary. We only deal with what is, what is real, what
you are currently struggling with. That is all that is necessary.
Q: Does your approach last?
A: That is a good question because the truth is, nothing lasts at least in
this world. If you succeed in letting go of a certain negative emotion you
could always pick it up again and that does not mean failure. But when
you can fully experience what it means to let go, then why would you? But
the fact is that we sometimes do, if for no other reason because it is a
familiar way of coping. I continue to have so called negative emotions
every day and you won't stop having them either. The point is how long
we hang on to them. When you can learn the art of letting go then
negative emotions don't hang around too long. You can actually get to the
place where the moment they come in, is the same moment they go out.
But for some things it takes a little working through. But if you can learn
this simple technique then you have learned a technique for life, a tool so
to speak which you can use any time and any place to come to peace of
mind. And the more you use it the better you get at it. And let me add, you
really want to get to a place where you are not hanging on to anything
even so called "positive emotions". The point is to create flow in your life
which, I believe, opens up the way for true happiness.