7 Ways To Let Go of What’s Ailing You

Photo credit: OnceUponaLife

Have you ever had a thought that stressed you out, rattled around in your brain, and just wouldn’t go away? I’m sure it has; it happens to everyone. The problem is that when non-useful thoughts get stuck in our heads, they destroy our focus, creativity, and productivity. One simple nagging thought can throw off an hour, a day, or even an entire week. If you want to avoid losing those precious hours and days, then you need to let go of those thoughts…

“Letting go” doesn’t mean ignoring the problem. It simply means that you realize that there is nothing you can do about the issue right now, and rather than having it consume your life with stress and anxiety you are going to put it aside until you are in a position where you can deal with it.

Distracting thoughts suck up time, energy, and attention. By letting them go you free up all those resources to solve your problems, tackle your day, and pursue your dreams. Not only will your work get done faster, but it will also be of higher quality.

Obviously, your best bet is to just deal with what’s bothering you. Do the project, have the conversation, go deal with the overdue bill, etc. But if you can’t address the issue right away (or if it’s not something you can or want to ever address), you are much better off letting it go than letting it stew and fester in your mind.

Here are 7 ways to let go when something is bothering you:


It is amazing what a few simple deep breathes can do for you. When you find stress rising, close your eyes (if you’re not driving!) and breath in as deeply as you can. Fill yourself with air from the bottom of your belly to the top of your chest, hold the air in for a few seconds, and then let it out. Repeat four or five times, or until you find yourself coming to peace with your troubles. For added impact, imagine that with each breath out your are letting your troubles and negative energy go.

This is the simplest and fastest way to let go and re-center your mind. It won’t last forever, but it will last long enough for you to get into a good flow state on another, more productive activity.

Empty Your Mind

Sometimes you may forget that you are the one in charge of your thoughts. When something is bothering you, you let it run amok all through your head. One of the best things you can do to let go of your troubles is to calm your mind by emptying it of thoughts.

This is very much like meditation, only our goal here is not to reach a higher consciousness or stay in a Zen state for an hour. Our goal is to become adept at removing all thoughts from our mind and be still. When you empty your mind, you remove all the negative thoughts and can exert a certain amount of control over what you let back in.

If you have not done this before, it won’t be easy, especially when you have stressful thoughts bouncing around your head. It’s a good idea to practice emptying your mind when you are not stressed, just to develop the skill. That will make it much easier when you need to let go of much bigger, badder thoughts.


There are many great visualization techniques to help you let go of your troubles. Here are a few:

– Imagine the thing that is bothering you, and then visualize placing it in a balloon and watching it float away
– In your head, write down the issue and then imagine yourself crumpling it up and throwing it away
– Picture the thing that is bothering you, then change the color in your mind to black and white. Then shrink it down so it is very small. Then imagine it very far away.

Some of these ideas may sound odd, but they can do wonders for helping you to put troubling thoughts aside.


Writing is a powerful way of getting thoughts out of your head. The simplest way to do this is to take out some paper and let whatever is in your head flow out. Don’t edit, don’t beat yourself up for what you are feeling, and don’t try to be correct. Just write. In the Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron refers to this as “Morning Pages,” and it is one of the best ways to clear all the gunk out of your head.

Another method is to write an in-depth letter to the person or situation that is troubling you (yes, you can write a letter to abstract concepts or inanimate objects). You never have to send the letter! In fact, you probably shouldn’t; it will just add another layer of stress to your mind. Instead, put it in a drawer or throw it away. The act of writing your thoughts will be cathartic in and of itself.

Distract Yourself

Not the best solution, but let’s face it: most of our stress will diminish with a little time and distance. Sometimes you just need to get your mind off of things for a little while. Go out with friends, exercise, engage in a hobby you love. The key is that you do something that truly engages your mind. Watching a movie could be good, or it could just leave you sitting in a dark theater festering over your problems for two hours.


You can physicalize the letting go process by performing a ritual. Don’t be put off by the word “ritual,” there is nothing spiritual or cultish about it. A ritual is just a consistent procedure you regularly follow. By turning your letting go process into a ritual, you can train your mind to automatically let things go once the ritual starts.

For example, you can write down the thing that is bothering you on a piece of paper and then burn it in a bowl or fireplace (be careful!). Some people use chants, mantras, or affirmations to let things go. I know a person who takes a picture that represents their thought, takes a short walk, and throws away the picture in a public garbage can a few blocks away. Not only have they thrown it away, but they also got it out of their house first!

The act of doing something physical represent letting something go is very powerful. Using rituals may sound strange, but don’t knock it until you try it!

Use Logic

This is probably the least effective method, but worth a shot, especially if you are a logical person. Keep explaining to yourself all the logical reasons why you should stop worrying. Yes, we as humans are emotional creatures, and logic very rarely wins out over emotion, but repeated logical reasoning can eventually engage the emotional part of your brain. If nothing else, by using logic you can force your attention off of what is bothering you and onto where you want it to go.

Troubling thoughts are dangerous, insidious things that can take hold, grow, and completely derail both our small and grand plans. The next time a nagging thought takes hold in your head, try applying one or more of these seven techniques and get back on track!

Avish Parashar is the Motivational Smart Ass. As a speaker and on his blog, Avish makes people laugh while sharing with them simple ideas to make their lives easier and more successful. To read more of his ridiculous rantings on self improvement, watch videos of him in action, and download the free “How to Think Quick” MP3, visit his Motivational Humor Blog at http://www.MotivationalSmartAss.com


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

14 Responses to 7 Ways To Let Go of What’s Ailing You

  1. Bill says:

    Sometimes nothing works and we are haunted for years by what we can never undo.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Bill I do agree with u right now am going through a very serious issue and i tried so many things and It seems like to hard to empty the mind I don’t know how to am not use to feeling these ways.

  3. Anxiety Freak says:

    right now i just ripped (accidentally) a page out of my friend’s ninth grade yearbook. everyone blamed me, but the guy said that he got to rip a page out of MY yearbook, but im planning to tell him i didnt get my yearbook yet, or just put on my headphones and block out the world, as i would usually do. Would this work, or should i admit? Help, and respond quick, cuz i get yearbooks TOMORROW!

  4. C├ęsar Henrique says:

    Hummm… This seems to be helping me!
    Thanks a lot!

  5. KL Konnect says:

    Ok, I’ve spent an hour reading a few articles today regarding how to no let things bother you. Some are good, some …. Not realistic.

    I have to be honest and say that while I’m glad every article may help someone somewhere in the world, this one is more on the unrealistic side, with a hint of the “happiness is a choice / you choose your thoughts” mentality.

    This can be hurtful for those who fall for this belief and think something is wrong with them if they don’t operate that way.

    FACT remains that thoughts are automatic (along with many other things that some people wish to believe they have control over). We don’t control or thoughts. They just happen.

    People will argue all day that this isn’t true. However, they always fail when I put them to the test. They believe happiness is a choice or that they can control their thoughts… UP UNTIL you slap them, or scratch their car, etc. Then, all the sudden, they can no longer just magically choose to just be happy or change how they feel or what they think.

    If it were true that happiness was a choice or we could choose our thoughts, then it wouldn’t take a hostage negotiator to handle certain situations, and managers, significant others, landlords/eviction handlers, law enforcement, etc. could simply just tell people to be happy or have positive thoughts, making their job easier, while also choosing to do the same themselves.

    We can control to some extent what we do with our thoughts or moods when they happen, but we don’t choose how we feel or how we wish to feel. If it were that simple then dating would be easy because we would just choose to like the people we know are right for us, or even choose just to be happy with and have positive thoughts about family members, bosses, friends, neighbors, teachers, coworkers, roommates, government leaders, etc. that we have a problem with.

    Lastly, no one should have a problem with anything I’ve said or pointed out. I expect that you either choose to like / feel good about it and choose to have positive thoughts about it, or just choose not to think about it and move on.

  6. Jason Bradley says:

    Start to fall in love with who you are as a person again. We are all unique and special and deserve to give ourselves a break. Mentally spiritually and emotionally. This information is priceless to me. Heres to all of us finding peace of mind as human beings for all the things we are dealing with in our daily lives.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thank you this really helped sorta I havent tryed yet but u will and my problem is my sis told me this thing about time were that remember when you first woke up and how fast it went by…time ends in a blink of and eye and now it won’t leave my mine please help

  8. Anonymous says:

    I will try it soon I meant

  9. Anonymous says:

    so there is something bothering has for a little bit two people at two different jobs site one said that there concerned i am not able to do my job right but i have been for almost a year then another person saying i was being really rude i and saying stuff that i didn’t say maybe i was maybe i wasn’t i know for a fact that i was not yelling but on top of all that i am pregnant i am not that far along but if i am letting this bother me so much what else might show up and i am farther along i dont want to hurt my baby because all i can do is worry and think about this or think did i do it wrong or was i not being the way they say i was

  10. Anonymous says:

    So i have been stuck with a troubling memory for almost a year now. I’ve tried many of these suggested steps and it works for some time until something happens to remind me of the memory. I remember everything about it. When i close my eyes i can visually see everything that happened and the feeling that i felt when i saw what i was not supposed to see. Feeling and thoughts are still the same and everytime the memory comes back it hits me just as hard i just want to forget about it already.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I just dont dont say nothing and it just biulds up and i cant get it off my head i knw its stupid to be upset about wat im thinking about but im the type if i dont say something it haunts me idk wat to do

  12. susan mark says:

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Life is like licking bony from a thorn –

  14. Anonymous says:

    Life is like licking honey from a thorn-

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