We all have an inner urge to evolve, to grow ourselves, to become more of who we know we can be. But through the normal wear and tear of life and through unbearable stress, we sometimes lose our motivation. Stuff gets in the way, and we slow down or stop the process. We can’t find our center when life gets tough. Yet, we know that getting ourselves to the yoga mat brings us back.
This year, I’ve decided to rekindle my inner resolve to evolve by using an amazingly simple teaching from a podcast I’ve been crazy about lately, the Mel Robbins Podcast. She is a NY Times best-selling author and boasts about having the most popular podcast in the world! (Now that’s confidence for you!) In one of her episodes, she discusses the power of the Let Them Theory. I found this teaching to have great relevance for me.
So many of us attempt to control others and life by placing demands on them to be a certain way that meets our expectations. We usually do this to ensure our inner peace. It’s understandable. But manipulating and controlling others and life around us never really works and often leaves us feeling frustrated and isolated. It’s like trying to put out the fire with gasoline. It’s ineffective and creates more problems.
It’s like rowing upstream - going against the current - to get our needs met. Inner peace requires us to “drop our oars” and let the current of grace carry us. As soon as we drop our oars, our boat will turn around all by itself and start flowing downstream, effortlessly.
If you find that you are overly controlling, then try and practice the Let Them Theory.
If someone cuts you off in traffic, let them.
If someone doesn’t hold the door for you, let them.
If someone gives you an angry look, let them.
If you have a family member you haven’t seen in a long time who chooses to take a vacation rather than visit you, let them.
If the doctor’s office cancels your appointment that took you 6 months to schedule, let them.
If you get invited to a wedding reception and you look forward to the fun of sitting at a table with all of your friends, but when you pick up your reservation card showing you’re at table 3 and all of your friends are at table 4, let them. It’s not your wedding. You don’t have a say about where you sit, and the bride and groom must have had a good reason why they put you with their great Aunt and Uncle. Maybe it’s because you’re a great conversationalist and they knew you would be cool with it. Let them.
Here's my mantra – Let life. Let it be. Let it go.
You have to let it be before you can let it go. We accumulate so much stress and waste so much time trying to control others. It’s a habitual leakage of energy masking as anxiety. Control issues are often the veil for hidden anxiety.
The Let Them Theory is letting people be who they are. If you want to go out to a party but your partner doesn’t, can you go yourself and just let them not go? Often, we’re trying to help our partners or friends by reminding them to exercise more, eat better, don’t have gluten, get outside more, lose weight, be more regular in their practice, go to bed earlier, etc. We can become so annoying. Our life would be so much more peaceful if we could just let them do what they do and let life flow as it flows.
There are five caveats to the Let Them Theory that I feel I need to mention:
If someone is doing something dangerous and could hurt themselves or others, you need to step in and say something. Like not letting a loved one drive home from a party if they’ve had too much to drink. No. You have to take charge and drive them yourself or get them an Uber. Do not let them!
If someone is being harassed or abused, you need to not let that happen.
When you need to advocate for your own needs, for instance, speaking up if the salary you’ve just been offered is too low. There was a study done that revealed 80% of people never negotiate their salary. They just take what’s offered. It’s important to speak up to advocate for what you’re worth.
If someone continuously crosses your boundaries, don’t let them do that. Speak up. Let them know that that’s not okay with you.
If you are a parent, you need to set boundaries. It’s your responsibility to not let your kids skip school, flunk out, or to make sure they eat more vegetables. A parent’s job is to put up guard rails to ensure a safe and healthy development. However, when you realize you are forcing your kids to be a mini version of you, let them off the hook and accept them for who they are, not who you want them to be. Let them.
The Let Them Theory is a way to stay in our own lane and reduce our anxiety.
We need to stay out of other people’s business and stick to attending to our own business.
Suggestions for how to apply the Let Them Theory:
1. Detachment. A perfect example of Vairaghya (the practice of detachment, renunciation, letting go). Detach from your emotional struggle that you get yourself into when you think about what other people should be doing or what shouldn’t be happening. This strikes a nerve for all of us.
Why be so hurt and offended about everything? For example, when a friend you’ve gone on vacation with for the last several years suddenly decides to travel alone, you feel left out or abandoned. Let them. Let them go because they probably just need time to be alone. Don’t be questioning why they’re doing that to you. Don’t make it mean anything about you. You are not responsible for them, only for your own feelings and what you’re making that mean. Let them.
2. This next one is a little more difficult. You need to take a step back and let others fail. They need to learn to take responsibility. With kids, if they forget their lunch, (and only if they are medically healthy and there’s no risk of injury), you need to not bring them their lunch. Do not rescue them. Let them.
They need to feel the sting of disruption from their own actions. Their nervous system will then create a pathway to remember for the next time. The sting of the consequences of forgetting a lunch, which is that they get a little hungry, is the teacher. Don’t rob them of the lesson because you feel guilty or sorry for them. Worse, try not to shame yourself for being a “bad” parent by not helping your kid. By not helping them, you are training them to take responsibility and grow up.
Another example is if you have a friend or loved one who regularly downloads their negativity onto you. So often we take on trying to help others by trying to manage their emotions. You’re not responsible for their emotions. How to just lovingly let them feel what they feel without you needing to do anything about it. Can you just listen with compassion?
3. The third way is even more challenging. Let them be themselves. Stop trying to make them someone else. Most of the time we are not in love with the person as they are. We are in love with the potential of who we see they could be, and who we secretly want them to be.
The real question is can you be with them as they are? When you do this, you allow yourself to be in authentic relationship with the actual person. Only then will you be able to see if you like them for who they are. If you don’t like them, then maybe that’s a sign you shouldn’t be in relationship with them? But you’ll never know that until you release your expectations of them.
Placing expectations on another is a usually a mirror for what we do to ourselves internally. So, when we can allow someone to be who they are, we allow ourselves to be who we are.
This new year, may you cultivate the inner resolve to evolve by letting everything be as it is.
May you release the control of others and of life and flow downstream with the current of grace. May you use your practice to access the freedom, light, and inner peace within you and let that light shine out through your eyes, face, and skin to light up the world.
If you’re not already a member, I want to take this moment to invite you to take advantage of the new year, which is the best time to do something healthy for yourself and join the Ashaya Yoga Online Membership!
May this be your best year yet! I look forward to seeing you on the mat! Happy New Year!
Love and Light,
Todd and the Ashaya Yoga Team
Want Todd's writing delivered directly to your inbox? Sign up for the Ashaya Newsletter!