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Letting Down Your G.U.A.R.D.

Annie Allen, Certified Divorce and Life Transition Coach®

In order to truly live in the moment, I have discovered that I have to let down my guard. I use this illustration for two reasons.

One, it is truly a necessity to let down our guard and let the walls between us and others crumble if we are to be effective at living in the moment, letting the past go, forgetting what may or may not happen tomorrow and just living for today with serenity, courage and wisdom.

Secondly, the very act of letting down our guard—taking down those walls—is the act of letting go of these five key hindrances to the mindfulness of living in the present. This is Acceptance. We must choose it. Our brains can default to self-protective measures that keep us in fight, flight or freeze.

Guilt—We are all human, therefore we all make mistakes, act in ways that are hurtful to others and have regrets. Guilt goes one step further, from knowing we blew it to wallowing in our errors, insulting ourselves and generally being unforgiving of our weaknesses and mistakes. Instead, we can let go of guilt by choosing to look at our mistakes and shortcomings as ways that we have lived and learned. We can own where we’ve failed, make things right with those we’ve hurt, forgive ourselves and then let it all go. Guilt never served any positive purpose in anyone's life. When you live in the past focused on your failures, you cannot live in the moment.

Ugliness—What does the guilt of the past and the anxiety of the future do to our spirits? It makes us ugly. Our reactions, harsh words and negative mindsets are almost always about the past or the future. In this present moment we have choices, but the past and the future are entirely out of our control. To truly live in the present inherently means letting go of the past and the future to grab hold of today. In doing so, we let go of the ugliness that these wrong focuses naturally cause. We can choose kindness when all we have to carry is today.

Anxiety—Anxiety is so prevalent in our world today that many of us cannot really imagine a world, our family or ourselves without it. Did you know that anxiety has one single root cause? We worry and become anxious when we are trying to live with a future focus, one step ahead of real life. You are worried about what tomorrow may bring so you are trying to manipulate everything in your todays in order to control your tomorrows. This simply will never work.

Resentment—This is perhaps the most difficult part of letting our guard down. Resentment feels a lot like guilt except that it’s focused on the past mistakes of others rather than one's own. You may have had something happen to you that was just plain wrong. Devastating. Life-changing. It can feel like resentment is the only natural response to what’s happened to you, but the reality is that you will never be able to experience the peace of living in the moment if you are choosing to hold on to the grievances of the past with resentment. To truly let go of the resentment that you feel requires only acceptance. You must choose to accept that bad things happen to everyone. You must accept other's for who they are. That doesn't mean you have to like them or want to spend time with them. But. there’s no getting around it... the only way to make peace with the present is to accept the past with all its faults and failures as lessons learned to help make today better.

Depression—Depression is another societal norm that almost all of us have struggled with at some point and to some degree. Once again, there is a single source for this debilitating mindset as well. Depression is what happens when we are living in the past, when you are (maybe subconsciously) stuck in the thoughts or feelings from any negative part of your past. A backwards-focus always results in a depressed mindset because everything but the present moment is completely out of our control. We may have been able to make a better choice back then, but we didn’t. “It is what it is” is a way we try to deal with the reality that what’s done is done. But we can say that and still stay stuck in it. The better way to deal with it is to forgive yourself or whomever hurt you, and let it go. Nothing can change what happened in the past. Focusing in the rear-view mirror prevents you from the joy of living for what’s right in front of you today, the only moment when you have any control.

Letting go of Guilt, Ugliness, Anxiety, Resentment and Depression may seem too lofty a goal.

Everything you’ve ever become an expert at started off daunting. Newsflash! If there is something you are putting off doing because you don't "know how" to do it, just know that the only way to learn how to do something, is by doing it.

I promise you this is as attainable as any other goal in life. It is a byproduct of making the choice to live in the moment. Remind yourself of this often, journal regularly about these mindful matters, praying each day that you can do better than the previous day at focusing on today only and letting down your G.U.A.R.D.

See if you don’t find yourself feeling twenty pounds lighter (without all that armor) and smiling more!

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