When you’re in a tough emotional spot—maybe you feel bad about something you did, or you can’t get over your anger or hurt—you’re likely suffering because you can’t move on. If you want to stop the struggle, you have one choice to make:
- you can change it,
- accept it,
- or let it go.
It’s one simple choice—but simple doesn’t mean that it’s easy.
Maybe you’ve heard the famous prayer asking for the “strength to change what I can,” and the “serenity to accept what I can’t?” That’s an excellent thought. But what if neither of those will work?
Even letting go is work.
In fact it can be the most difficult of these three actions!
Sometimes it’s a person or an environment you can’t change. If you’re in a relationship, should you accept any trait or behavior? If your boss is degrading, your teammate is rude, or your neighborhood is dangerous, and it’s not okay with you, what then?
When you’re faced with an unchanging, unacceptable situation, you have permission to release yourself from it and it from you.
You can let it go. It will be a little easier if you use the following guidelines to break down the decision and make your choice. You can…
1. Change it. You’re allowed to hang in there and work to change something if you are up for it. Maybe your boyfriend will agree to watch less sports or your girlfriend will learn to clean up after herself. Talk it out, work on yourselves, express those hopes and wishes. Things can and do change for the better.
2. Accept it. So your boyfriend isn’t turning off baseball anytime soon. He loves the stuff… and you love him. Or your girlfriend is just not the neat freak that you are, and she never will be… but she has other charms. You’re allowed to accept the situation—and the person—as is. It’s truly a noble choice most of the time.
3. Let it go. If you can’t get him to turn his head away from sports, and it’s unacceptable to you because it precludes all togetherness… your third alternative is right there for you. You can let him go. And if she’s so messy that it makes every day uncomfortable for you, but to her, the clutter is her comfort… here we are again: Change it, accept it, or let it go.
The letting it go part may be the toughest because you really only have to make this decision when you can’t change it (or it wouldn’t be fair to) and you can’t accept it (or you shouldn’t accept it for your own good).
So, if you’re stuck or twirling, take heart. Though it’s not an easy choice, it is a simple one. I’ve let go of a job or two, an apartment, a childhood friend, and a couple of business ventures. I made it through because it was the right alternative, under each of the circumstances.
That’s what these three options are about. You have alternatives, and when you remember that and consider them, you can choose more wisely. After that, although a little healing may be in order, you’ll be well on your way.
After making a thoughtful decision, you can let go of the struggle.