I’ve said for years that Mickey Singer is my favorite spiritual teacher. In this article from 2022 I gave as my reason Mickey’s emphasis on letting go of our stuff.

That yes, practicing regular meditation and mindfulness in the pursuit of quieting our minds was incredibly important. But if we don’t let go of the baggage we’ve held onto over the course of our lives, those practices alone will not liberate us from ourselves.

But letting go isn’t easy. And for most people, how to do it is confusing. Because it’s so central to our growth, illuminating what letting go looks like is vital.

The nice elevator guy

That’s where Mickey’s elevator example comes in. I heard it this morning listening to his start of 2024 talk.

He said to imagine you get on an elevator. There’s one person already on it and he’s standing at the button panel.

As the door starts to close, he sees somebody coming and presses the door open button. Okay, you’re fine. One more person, no big deal…

Then he does it again…And again…And again. Each time he does it, he laughs and says, “Looks like we got another. Come on in.”

Now there’s seven people on board and it’s getting a little tight. You don’t like crowds and you definitely don’t like being packed to the gills in an elevator. You feel anger building inside you.

The four possible responses

So what do you do? Mickey goes through four different reactions, in ascending order of efficacy.

First, you could blow your stack.

“Would you stop letting people on!!! It’s packed in here!!!”

This is expressing that anger. Some mistakenly think that expressing is the same as letting go. It’s not. It usually leads to bad outcomes and doesn’t release the stuck, angry energy.

Second, you could suppress the anger by saying to yourself,

“Oh, don’t worry about it. It’s no big deal. He’s just being nice.”

None of which you believe. You’re pissed and all you’re doing here is pushing the anger down. Someday all that suppressed anger is going to explode out of you like lava out of Mt. Vesuvius.

Third, you can accept the situation. This is one I hadn’t heard Mickey say before. That would be saying to yourself,

“Yes, this sucks. I hate being trapped in a loaded elevator. But that’s the reality of the situation and there’s nothing we can do about it. So just accept it.”

Acceptance is better than the first two, but we’re still not letting go of the anger. We’re simply accepting that we’re angry.

The fourth, and optimum, response is to not express, suppress or accept the anger. It is to watch it, relax with it and let it go.

Mickey teaches us to say something along the lines of,

This anger has come up and I don’t want to live with it anymore. So I’m going to let it go. As hard as it is to relax and remain calm right now, I don’t care. I’m going to do it in furtherance of doing the most important thing I can do with my life: Letting go of myself in order to free myself.

So that’s what we do. We resolve to rid ourselves of ourselves.

That’s actually my 2024 resolution. That on December 31, 2024, there is less David Gerken than there was on January 1, 2024.

Just keep shedding. And shedding. And shedding.

When you hit red lights. Let go.

When the mom at school pickup forgets your name for the umpteenth time. Let go.

When your 80-year-old father belittles your job. Let go.

And when you’re on an elevator and a nice guy keeps letting people on. Let go.

Sooner rather than later you’ll feel lighter. Better. Happier.


Because each time you let go you get closer to realizing the true, conscious you that has been there all along. It’s just been obscured by the egoic clouds we’ve all accumulated from our earliest days.

And when those clouds arise in our sky, all we need to do is…

Let go.

Let go.

Let go.