202011.09

‘Letting Go’ by Susan McKenna

‘Letting Go’

Susan McKenna, B.A., Dip., SocScience, Director, Book Hub Publishing
& Co-author of ‘Between Two Lands’


Introduction

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This is a time of profound uncertainty with the global COVID- 19 pandemic. It is a time where we have all been forced to look into ourselves, to draw from our resiliency and where we have been allowed to reimagine how and why we engage as we do with the world and our communities. This is as true for millennials as for any other demographic. Indeed, millennials have been particularly struck by both the economic and social implications of this global catastrophe. Whether one believes this is a ‘pandemic’ a ‘scamdemic’ or a ‘planneddemic’ matters little in terms of the fall out for millennials. They are collectively and individually deeply fearful and genuinely scared for their futures.

Figures from the Irish Central Statistics Office (CSO) have pointed to an 80 per cent fall in the number of 18-to-34-year olds who rated their overall life satisfaction as high in recent months when compared to just two years ago, pre-pandemic (reported in the Irish Times, 18th August 2020). Millennials, as a cohort, have been disproportionately affected with job losses, they typically live in rented accommodation which can be precarious for them, and many had to return home to their parent’s houses as the months dragged on. This all brings a great deal of uncertainty and anxiety (Mardlin, 2020).

‘Letting go’ is now a significant theme in positive psychology and life coaching literature. But what is this? How can it be achieved? Why is it so difficult to let go? At the core of thinking on this theme, is the notion that we have too many things in our lives that are distracting us; too much ‘stuff’, too many things to do and too many expectations that are making us fundamentally unhappy and unfulfilled. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many millennials to ‘let go’ as the role of ‘influencers’ totters on uncertain ground with brands merely trying to survive. This is a theme explored in greater detail by Callanan and MacGiolla Bhuí (in press).

Tips for Millennials: Letting Go and Achieving Flow

In all of this, we are also presented with a chance to let go of routines (and toxic people, but that’s for another chapter) that no longer serve us. When we think about it, we perform so many outdated routines simply because they are routines. But we can make different, more positive decisions; ones that are more attuned to our core as individuals. An example of this might be consuming a glass of wine every evening at 7pm. Is this healthy? Think of yourself as a child. What made you happy then? What changed for you? How could you get back some of this happiness in your life?

Crucially, what do you need to let go of in your life?

Identify and then ‘let go’ of extraneous distractions and become better at concentrating. Achieve what psychologist, Csikszentmihalyi, calls ‘flow’. This refers to a state of particular concentration, followed by engagement that happens when one completes a task or series of functions that challenges one’s skills – a point developed by MacGiolla Bhuí (2019). There is now voluminous literature in psychology, confirming that people are finding it immensely difficult to concentrate and be ‘in the moment’.

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Let’s change that. So, here’s a useful #life #hack. Write down ten of your routines and include your work life, your home life, and your family life in this. A simple list will suffice. Then put a tick beside the routines that still work for you. Be as objective as you can in this exercise in letting go as many as possible. Then, reorder your revised list so that the most critical routines are now elevated in your thinking. And, less on your list is more in terms of potentially concentrating properly on undertaking and completing these routines.

The good news is that learning to ‘let go’ is a skill millennials can acquire by changing one’s mindset, by embracing the ‘moment’ and by being more conscious of confronting and changing routine. In this period of lockdown, we have time to commence this. When the lockdown ends, maintain this new way of thinking. Let go.

References

Central Statistics Office. (2020). Dublin: CSO. Irish Times, 18th August 2020.
Irish Times, 18th August 2020.

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Callanan, D and MacGiolla Bhuí, N. (eds). (in press). That is Not the Way of Millennials. That’s the Gen Zers. Galway: Book Hub Publishing.

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Mardlin, E. (2020). BATSHIT Not So Crazy. Axe Anxiety in Seven Steps. Galway: Book Hub Publishing.

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MacGiolla Bhuí, N. (2019). Mental Health for Millennials. On Happiness. Vol 4. Galway: Book Hub Publishing.

  • From McKenna, Susan (2020, p. 81-84). Mental Health For Millennials Volume 4. On Wellbeing. Book Hub Publishing. Galway.