Let Them

Let Them

“Let Them” – Theory, Tattoo, T-Shirt, Movement, and Mystery.

Alan Watts popped up on my screen the other day, or his voice did at least, booming away about non-attachment in that clear resonant diction of his. He was talking about letting people get on with doing exactly what they want as a way of bringing more peace into your life.

‘I could probably write a thing or two about what Alan is saying,’ I thought to myself. I transcribed the first couple of sentences and fed them into google so I could find the full text of his talk. I found the full text alright, but it wasn’t an Alan Watts talk. It was a poem written by Cassie Phillips sometime in the last ten years. This was curious because Alan Watts died in 1973. 

No supernatural mystery here, what I had been listening to was an AI-generated voice modeled on Alan Watts’ voice. This made sense of why I had been hearing so much Alan Watts lately. I thought it was a release of previously unheard recordings. It just confirms what Abraham Lincoln so wisely said, “You can’t trust everything you come across on the internet.”

There were more intrigues about the poem itself but we can go into that later, for now here is the poem and it is a banger.

Let Them

by Cassie Phillips

Just Let them.

If they want to choose something or someone over you, LET THEM.

If they want to go weeks without talking to you, LET THEM.

If they are okay with never seeing you, LET THEM.

If they are okay with always putting themselves first, LET THEM.

If they are showing you who they are and not what you perceived them to be, LET THEM.

If they want to follow the crowd, LET THEM.

If they want to judge or misunderstand you, LET THEM.

If they act like they can live without you, LET THEM.

If they want to walk out of your life and leave, hold the door open, AND LET THEM.

Let them lose you. You were never theirs, because you were always your own.
So let them.
Let them show you who they truly are, not tell you.
Let them prove how worthy they are of your time.
Let them make the necessary steps to be a part of your life.
Let them earn your forgiveness.
Let them call you to talk about ordinary things.
Let them take you out on a Thursday.
Let them talk about anything and everything just because it’s you they are talking to.

Bursting The Bubble  

If you imagine Alan Watts saying these words you can see why my interest was piqued. This poem is pretty radical in its approach to what boils down to a very clear-eyed acceptance of what is and then using that knowledge in the muscular application of self-worth. 

It does away with, “shoulds.”
“People should reciprocate.”
“People should care.”
“People should be interested.”

In its place, it encourages us to look at what is actually happening. We do that by getting out of the way and letting the people in our lives get on with doing whatever they want. This pierces the bubble of illusion we have about our friendships and relationships. 

If our partner wants to choose something or someone over us, instead of fighting them or pleading with them, dragging them to counseling, or trying to manipulate them, we get out of the way. We let them, we hold the door for them even, because, and this is where the self-worth comes in, if they don’t see value in staying, if they don’t see the value in who we are, then we need to “let them” . . . go. 

If our family, friends, or grown-up children want to go weeks without talking to us, we simply let them. If people want to judge or misunderstand us, we let them. We also let go of friends who are okay with never seeing us again.

Letting the people in your life show you who they are is a version of Maya Angelou’s suggestion, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

The second half of the poem doubles down on self-worth as it encourages us to let people show us they recognise the value of who we are, that there are necessary steps to being a part of our life and that if we let them, people will either take those steps or they won’t.

The last part of the poem goes even deeper and sits in the knowledge of our value and the value of our presence. To let people talk to us about anything because we recognise that they value our presence. 

Heartbreaking Clarity

Make no mistake, what is suggested in this poem is not easy to do because it requires us to let go of what our relationships mean to us and that is not easy. You can take everything suggested in the poem and flip it on its head to see what your relationships mean to you.

If someone wants to choose something or someone over me, it means I am worthless. I don’t like feeling worthless so instead of going into the feeling of being worthless and getting to the bottom of it, I will instead make sure they choose me.

If someone wants to go weeks without talking to me, it means they don’t value me and I don’t like feeling valueless so I will make sure they see my value. (I secretly am not sure if I have value, and I REALLY don’t like that feeling so if I can get them to value me I can use that external validation to maybe believe I have some little value at least.)

If people want to judge or misunderstand me, it means they can’t see me properly. They are seeing me as flawed and I don’t like feeling flawed. I put a lot of time and energy into covering up what I think are my flaws so if they are seeing me as flawed it is obviously just a matter of information so let me chase them down the street to give them more information about how not flawed I am and then they will understand me and I don’t have to feel into what this feeling of being flawed is all about.

If someone is okay with never seeing me, it means they don’t care about me and I need people to care about me because I don’t like the feeling that comes up when I think I am someone that people don’t care about. 

If someone is okay with always putting themselves first, it means I am last, that I don’t matter. I don’t like feeling that I don’t matter because I am not sure that I do matter.

If they act like they can live without me, it means I am unnecessary, of no value, and am worthless. 

If they want to walk out of my life and leave, rather than holding the door I am barricading it because I need them to stay so I can feel like I have some little scrap of value. 

I could go on. To embody what this poem suggests means facing all those painful feelings. Slippery queasy to say the least.

The Let Them Movement

While I was rummaging around the internet looking for more information on the woman who wrote the poem I discovered there is a, “Let Them,” movement.  It was started by Mel Robbins in 2023 when she talked about it on her podcast. She called it, “Let Them Theory,” and highlighted the practical ways she had applied it in her life. 

Pop, “Let Them,” into an internet search and the movement pours out, the T-shirts, the bumper stickers, the tattoos — there are a lot of tattoos — and of course the poem, in all shapes and sizes. 

The funny thing about the poem is there is very little information available on Cassie Phillips, the woman who wrote it.  Typically, poets who have gained recognition, have some background details available about their lives, other works, or personal history. There also don’t appear to be any published books or collections of poetry attributed to Cassie Phillips, which is unusual for a poet with a significant following. So who wrote the poem is still a bit of a mystery, to me at least.

When, “Letting Them,” Is Not The Thing To Do

Of course, this approach doesn’t apply to every situation. 

If someone is being abusive to you, don’t let them. Dont, “let,” people violate your boundaries.

If you are a parent the degree to which you, “let them,” will change over the years. You obviously wouldn’t let your child play with broken glass, or run around in traffic, but as they get older it is important to let them make their own mistakes and have their own feelings. 

If your friend has had too much to drink and wants to drive home don’t “let them.” 

If someone is being violent to someone else whether it is an adult, a child, or an animal, don’t let “let them.”

Love

For me the idea of, “let them,” comes down to trusting love. The more I do that the less I want to fight for things. Instead of fighting for a relationship, I fight for love, or more accurately I focus on love because love is beyond the two-sided nature of conflict. Love is my guiding star because it is my true nature and when I keep referencing back to it everything is taken care of.

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash


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