You’ve probably heard of the ‘let them theory’. When US podcast host Mel Robbins posted about the mindset hack on her Instagram, the video went stratospheric, with over 20 million views, 1. 5 million likes, and tens of thousands of comments. But why?
“If your friends are not inviting you out to brunch this weekend, let them. If the person that you’re attracted to is not interested in a commitment, let them,” Mel says in the clip. “So much time and energy is wasted on forcing other people to match our expectations. ”
Mel notes that the technique is particularly relevant to those whose partner, date or friend is not showing up the way they want them to: “’Do not try to force them to change; let them be themselves because they are revealing who they are to you. Just let them – and then you get to choose what you do next. ”
So, essentially, it’s about acknowledging that we can’t control other people, and letting go of the expectations we force on those closest to us. Thousands of commenters claim that this theory of simply letting others be has transformed their relationships and made for a comfortable, argument-free partnership. But what about building a strong sense of communication with our loved ones? Should we not be allowed to speak our needs without letting people walk all over us? We spoke to Dr Sophie Mort, clinical psychologist and mental health expert at Headspace, to dig deeper into the viral mindset hack.
“We often feel the urge to control or persuade people to be who we want them to be, in part because we think that is the right thing to do, and in part because we want to manage our own anxiety and uncertainty that arises around other people’s behaviour,” says Dr Mort.
“The issue is, when we try to shape other people’s behaviour, we often end up disappointed, frustrated and exhausted. We lose sight of our own lives, and what we can actually control. This technique proposes that by letting things and people be, we can find peace and freedom, whilst improving the quality of our relationships. ”
According to Dr Mort, this is particularly useful if you’re dating and trying to decide if someone is right for you, or if you’re having doubts about your current relationship. “Allowing people to behave in a way that’s natural to them gives you a chance to see who they really are (rather than who you want them to be, expect them to be, or who you think they may be),” she explains. “When you try to police your date or partner’s behaviour, you’ll never know whether they’re treating you well out of affection for you, or because you’re making them act a certain way. So letting people do things without responding or interfering can quickly show you which relationships you might need to walk away from. ”