The Let Them theory is on everyone's TikTok feeds - could the hack help you transform a negative mindset?

It's all about making peace with letting go of control.

Let Them theory: A woman smiling in the sunshine on a yoga mat
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Been on the self-development side of TikTok lately? Then you’ve likely seen the "Let Them" theory doing the rounds. 

Not actually had it grace your feed yet? Let us explain. A term coined by motivational speaker and author of many of the best self-help books Mel Robbins, it's a self-development theory which currently has more than 16 million views on TikTok. So what is it, exactly? In short, it promises to be a life-changing mindset hack and self-care idea that'll help you let go of the need to control everything in your life.

We're all prone to bouts of negative thinking now and then - sometimes, life just gets a little much and you can be left feeling out of sorts. Know that this is normal up to a certain point, but if you have been feeling down for prolonged periods of time, it's always worth booking in with your local GP to see what help might be on hand for you.

That said, if it's just day-to-day frustrations getting you down, this nifty trick to reframing negative thoughts might just come in handy. Interested in learning more about the Let Them theory and reading up on the benefits of embracing the practice? Below, we asked a handful of top mindset coaches and experts to get their take. Our guides to how to work on self love and finding joy, at the ready. 

The viral Let Them theory, explained

What is the Let Them theory?

In short, a highly effective mindset hack, according to self-empowerment coach and wellbeing expert Moon Onyx Starr

As an advocate of the trend Robbins explains in her now-viral TikTok video, the theory is all about encouraging you to let go of the need to feel in control over every situation in your life. "The next time your friends all go out to brunch together and don't invite you, let them"," says Robbins. "Or maybe the person you're dating doesn't want a commitment. Let them."

She continues: "You spend so much time and energy trying to control other people and getting emotionally worked up about things that are beyond your control. You can tap into peace and true control if you let them be themselves." 

Onyx Starr echoes this, adding: "It's about embracing a more accepting and peaceful perspective, allowing people and circumstances to be as they are without feeling the need to exert excessive control or influence over them."

While it might sound a bit out there, author and burnout coach, Dr Sharon Grossman confirms that it's a great way to stop wasting energy on how others are acting - you can't control how others act, after all, but you can control how you react. She shares that the hack can encourage you to stop investing your time and energy in forcing others to confirm your ideals. Instead, you let them be themselves. “Doing so gives you insight into their true nature and from that place, you can make more informed decisions about your own actions,” she adds. 

5 benefits of the Let Them theory

As with most self-development practices, the benefits of embracing the Let Them theory will differ from person to person.

In general, though, Dr. Grossman explains that implementing this way of thinking can help reduce stress and anxiety and allow you to be more mindful. 

“As a burnout expert, what I love about this theory is that it reduces stress and frustration that come from trying to control others," she explains. "One of the biggest stressors people face is not being in control. Truth be told, you're never in control of other people - so why waste all this time and energy focusing on something outside of your control when you can just let go?".

The cherry on top of the cake, she goes on, is that you'll end up having healthier relationships in the long run because the theory promotes authenticity and results in mutual respect. 

Not to mention there are physical benefits, too. Onyx Starr, who is also a qualified yoga teacher, adds that this mindset can also help to reduce tension in the body. “Physically, it can lead to decreased tension and improved overall well-being, as stress reduction often positively impacts physical health, too," she points out. (If that doesn't work, these yoga poses and yoga for lower back  flows will). 

3 cons of the Let Them theory

Caution is needed when practising the Let Them theory, as it should not be a reason to tolerate harmful behaviour, the experts warn.  “While the Let Them theory can be transformative, it's important to be mindful of its application. Over-implementation might lead to you neglecting your personal boundaries or disregarding important decisions," Onyx Starr explains. 

Dr Grossman agrees, adding: "Don’t mistake this theory as an excuse for inaction. It is still your responsibility to stand up for yourself and make decisions. The key is to approach situations with more understanding and flexibility while maintaining and sense of agency and responsibility in your own life."

The Let Them theory 

Jasmine Denike is a 30-year-old PR from London. She runs a Dating in London series on TikTok in her spare time (@jazzdenike), for which she went on nearly 100 dates in London, and shares that the Let Them theory helped her end up in a long term relationship.

"The Let Them theory changed a lot of how I looked at dating and I tried it on and off for the best part of two years."

"When I first moved to London, I was 27 and fresh out of a relationship. I wanted to start dating to get to know the city, meet new people, and figure out what it was in a partner that I prioritised." 

"Nearly 100 dates later - 40 of these were first dates - I've learnt a lot about how to let people go when they show you who they are."

"Applying the Let Them theory changed my entire perspective. I shifted from feeling convinced that I was the one driving people away, to accepting that you don't want to fight to keep someone in your life who doesn't want to be there. It was such an empowering feeling to know that the people who stayed in my life, both in my friendships and romantic relationship, were people who valued me as much as I valued them."

4 handy techniques to support the Let Them theory

While the Let Them theory sounds great in - yep, you guessed it - theory, for some, our experts warn that practising it IRL might be challenging. 

Read: If you're someone who's always tried to control situations and their outcomes, it might feel uncomfortable to try and step away from feeling the need to control.

That's where the below techniques come in. They're proven mindfulness tools that complement the Let Them theory and will support you on your journey to building awareness, reducing emotional reactivity and letting go of control.

1. Practice gratitude

You'll have heard self help gurus bang on about gratitude more than you care to count, but it's a really useful tool for reframing negative emotions and remembering that you only live once, so to live in the present.

“Focusing on gratitude helps shift the focus from what's lacking to what's present, fostering a sense of contentment, peace and happiness,” explains Onyx Starr. 

Try this: Not sure where to start? Listing three things you're grateful for every morning and every night is a handy and simple way to build an attitude of gratitude. 

2. Journal

Again, writing your thoughts down can be an easy way to improve self-awareness and stay in tune with your own emotions. “Journaling can provide clarity and insight, leading to better self-understanding and reduced reactivity," explains Onyx Starr. 

Try this: Journal while you try the Let Them Theory. That way, you're giving yourself a space to explore your emotions and thoughts or anything that comes up for you during the process. 

Feeling overwhelmed? See our guide to how to journal for ideas, plus scroll our edit of the best wellness planners.

3. Practice mindfulness

Another simple trick for promoting positivity? Practicing mindfulness. 

So, why are they so useful? Well, “mindfulness and self-awareness practices can certainly help because they train your brain to pay attention to what you're experiencing in the moment" explains Dr. Grossman. "They provide an opportunity to pause before pressing play so you can make better decisions rather than be reactive." 

Try this: She recommends practising meditation or deep breathing exercises in the moment if you feel overwhelmed by your emotions.

4. Try cognitive reframing

Last but by no means least, Dr. Grossman shares that one of the most impactful life skills she teaches her coaching clients is cognitive reframing.

Never heard of it? "It’s a technique that involves viewing situations from different perspectives," she shares. "That’s because you're meaning-making machines and your brain always crafts a story to help make sense of what’s happening."

Remember, though: "These stories often don’t have merit and left unchecked, they will rile you up unnecessarily."

Bottom line? We all want to be accepted by others, and this theory might just help you do that - without breaking your neck trying to validate others. Similarly, Dr. Grossman adds that it's a great reminder to be more accepting of others.

“The Let Them theory offers a refreshing approach that resonates with a lot of people because of its simplicity and because it is about acceptance. We all want to feel accepted by others. This Live and Let Live mentality is a reminder that we need to accept other people as well," she concludes.

Who created the Let Them theory?

Mel Robbins, a self-development expert who's written many a self help book on how to reframe a negative mindset, how to seize the day, and how to live in the present made the Let Them Theory popular.

She shares: "The next time your friends all go out to brunch together and don't invite you, let them. Or maybe the person you're dating doesn't want a commitment. Let them."

In short, it's a psychology theory that indicates that you can free yourself of daily worries, comparisons, or the need to be in control by reminding yourself that you can't predict how other people will act. What you are in control of is how you react to situations - something that Robbins' theory encourages you to do with grace and positivity. 

Ciara McGinley
Contributing Health Writer

Ciara McGinley is a freelance journalist, editor and mindfulness meditation practitioner. She covers health, wellbeing and lifestyle topics for her favourite women's lifestyle publications including Marie Claire, Stylist, Red Magazine and Woman & Home. She's all about betting that mind-body connection, and takes her self-care and night-time routine very seriously... When she's not writing or teaching meditation, you'll find her trying out the latest wellness trend, or escaping London for a hiking weekend.