May 21, 2024

Opinion: Let go of the anchor

By Bryan Golden

Imagine you are swimming while holding a heavy anchor which is pulling you under water. What would you do? Of course you would let go of the anchor to keep from drowning. Maintaining your grip on the anchor would lead to certain disaster.

With your survival at stake, you wouldn’t hesitate to drop the anchor. Yet, in life there are issues you are hanging onto which are drowning you. Anger, hate, bitterness, resentment, and grudges are all anchors pulling you to the bottom. Trying to change circumstances outside of your control also drags you to the bottom.

The problem is that from a young age you have become accustomed to holding on to anchors. The potential damage is not readily recognized because there doesn’t appear to be any immediate threat. Furthermore, there is a tendency to pick up and hold onto additional anchors. Then in response to the weight increasing to unmanageable levels, you tend to tighten your grip rather than letting go.

There are several reasons for this self-destructive behavior. First of all, you don’t realize you are actually carrying an anchor. Instead, you have become conditioned to believing that your feelings are the result of what others are doing to you, not what you are doing to yourself. Since you are not aware of the anchor you’re carrying, letting go of it is never even considered an option.

Another reason for not letting go is the false belief that your negative feelings are somehow detrimental to the person you blame. This thinking implies that when you are angry, bitter or upset, the person responsible for your feelings is in some way harmed by your anchor. This logic makes as much sense as believing the weight you are carrying is making someone else tired.

Trying to change someone else is another anchor to let go of. This endeavor leads to never ending frustration. A person can change if they want to, but you cannot make them do it. Although you don’t have any control over the actions of others, you do have control over your response.

When you persist in attempting to get others to change, your anchor grows in weight, pulling you down deeper and deeper. Your grip tightens as you get even more determined to force changes. This is a doomed scenario which typically tears relationships apart.

Let go of this anchor by recognizing people for who they are. Deal with them on this level. Put your energy into your response to their actions. Just because someone acts doesn’t mean you have to react.

Continually being offended and taking things personally is yet another anchor. Becoming upset never improves a situation. True freedom is attained through the realization that it really doesn’t matter what other people think, say, or do.

In order to let go of the anchor, you must be aware of the fact that you are holding onto one. Accomplishing this requires you to constantly monitor your emotional state. Your goal is an awareness of how you are feeling and why.

Understanding this cause and effect relationship enables you to recognize when you are holding onto an anchor. Through this approach, you will find you are holding onto anchors more frequently than you realized. Just let go each time you grab onto an anchor.

You are now in the process of changing a lifelong habit. Don’t make any excuses for holding onto the anchor. Never say to yourself “I can’t let this go.” Letting it go is essential for your mental and physical well-being.

Contact Bryan Golden at Bryan@columnist.com