How to Let Go

Nov 22, 2011

In your youth, letting go is naive. You do it  – blithely, even carelessly – because you do not know the costs.

Gain some years, years pockmarked with goings you did not want, years dented by goings you did everything you could to prevent, and letting go becomes an art you must learn, a discipline that divides those who grow from those who petrify.

I have let go of much in my life although far less than many. 3 or 4 books (one with a signed contract). Several partnerships. Successful projects. Spokesperson gigs. A fancy house in a fancy town. A brother-friend. Cherished dreams. A marriage.

Along the way I’ve realized a couple of things:

When letting go comes without your wanting, meet it. You will save yourself so much time and suffering, more than you can imagine.

When you want to let go and cannot, let desire lead you. Ask “What do I want?” Start with lunch and build from there.

When you know you need to let go but can’t see what needs to go, ask your most trusted friends, coach, spiritual teacher. Look for the pattern.

It is okay to start small. You do not need to burn the barn down* until you are ready. You can face what needs to go without committing to action.

That said, hiding from what you know to be true erodes your ability to trust yourself and take action on your behalf.

Your fear of losing it all is the barbell you lift to be strong enough to create what’s next.

You can’t let go without mess. Someone will be pissed. Someone will take it personally. Someone will never speak to you again or buy your stuff. If you wait to do it perfectly aka everybody loves your choice, then just go ahead and invite Miss Havisham to move in with you.

Learn to discern between letting go because you desire perfection (the grass is greener syndrome) and letting go because your heart is dying, you are hurting someone else, you can’t bear it one more moment.  The discipline of letting go sometimes requires staying put and working harder.

Drop the victim story.  Let go (or stay) as a creator.

Let the pain of what you are letting go of soften your heart. Sidestep the bitterness, the blaming, and if only thoughts. Let them slide on by.

Fear blocks renewal. Find ways to experience deep rest and safety so you can have the courage and energy to let go. It’s okay to gather yourself.

Ask for support, ask for courage, ask for forgiveness. Then drink it in.

Please add your wisdom. How have you learned to let go?

*Barn’s burnt down —
I can see the moon.   ~ Masahide

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