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Living Skills: Mindfulness and Letting Go

By Dr. Tim Ong

Living skills are skills that help you to live your life better. Unfortunately, living skills are often not taught or emphasized in schools. Thus, most people acquire living skills from the "school of hard knocks" - through experiences in life. There are many living skills. Two of the most important and useful skills are mindfulness and letting go.

Mindfulness
Mindfulness is effective in noting the arising of our thoughts and in recognising the contents of our thoughts and beliefs. It is particularly useful in changing the self limiting beliefs we have that is preventing us from unlimited possibilities. Since changing these unconscious self limiting beliefs requires that we first identify them, mindfulness plays a crucial role in this identification process.

When we are mindful of the thoughts and beliefs in our mind, we can then work on replacing limiting beliefs with wholesome and life-enhancing ones. How can we increase our mindfulness? We can do that through meditation.

Meditation, when done on a regular basis, increases our mindfulness and allow us to gradually peel away layers upon layers of negative mental and emotional imprints, and creating rooms for new positive and life-enhancing beliefs and imprints. This process is often compared to peeling the layers of an onion. Some compared it to tending a garden.

Another way for us to identify our self limiting beliefs is through the Option Method, which was created and introduced in New York City around 1970 by Bruce DiMarsico. Bruce had studied psychology and philosophy. Years later, while working as a psychotherapist and human relations consultant, he developed the Option Method as a self-help tool for people to become happier in their everyday lives. Option Method uses a series of questions to help you identify and clarify what exactly is bothering you. The questions that follow then expose the belief behind your emotion or bad feeling. As the questions open the door to your heart, your true feelings will become evident.

Letting Go
The ability to let go complements mindfulness. Mindfulness allows us to be aware of our negative thoughts, beliefs and feelings. With the awareness and insights we can then let go of them.

Since we spend almost every waking hours seeking, acquiring, grasping and clinging on to things, we have the tendency to resist letting go. In fact, most people find it extremely difficult to let go of anything and particularly of feelings and beliefs. This is because we have learned to identify our feelings and beliefs as ourselves. We think we are our feelings and beliefs. Thus we fight and struggle to keep these feelings and beliefs in an effort to preserve our SELF, regardless of whether they are useful or harmful to us.

One method of letting go is through mindfulness itself. When we are aware of our negative thoughts and feelings, which often hide in our subconscious mind, we can then decide to let them go. So mindfulness and letting go come hand-in-hand.

Another method of letting go unwanted feelings is to actually allow ourselves to feel the negative feelings, and then ask ourselves three important questions:

  1. Could I let it go?
  2. Would I let it go?
  3. When?
The answer to the first question is always a "Yes." We can always let go of anything, even long standing and major mental and emotional imprints.

The second question is more personal. "Would I let it go?" is intended to give yourself the permission to let it go. For some people, it may take a while to give a "Yes" answer to this question. It is perfectly alright. In fact, this step cannot be rushed so take your time. You need to convince yourself (and no one else) and when you are ready and willing, then say "yes" to it. In some cases, going through and completing the forgiveness process is essential to finally allow yourself to let go.

The last question, "When?" gives you a time frame. The best time is of course "NOW" but this again depends on whether you are mentally and emotionally ready to let go. It is perfectly alright to choose a time that is most appropriate for you.


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