Learn to Let Go
When you are willing to let go, you take an active role in shaping your own life.
“Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it.”
— Michael Peake
When your life is falling apart, there’s always the impulse to hold on: to him, to her, to it; to the way it was, to how you wanted it to be, to how you want it now. But in order to get through a crisis, you will have to let go of whatever is standing in your way or causing the problem; these are the handcuffs around your ankles, the tin cans tied to your tail. You will have to let go of whatever isn’t serving you, whatever you no longer need, whatever keeps you from moving forward, whatever you’re so attached to that you can’t see where you’re going.
You may have to let go of your marriage, your friends, your job, your career, your house, your self-image, the way you deal with things, your past, your dreams of the future. I don’t know what you’ll have to let go of. That’s for you to discover, but I do know that you’ll have to let go of something.
Letting go is scary. It’s a free fall, an act of surrender. It’s releasing ways of being and things you thought were important, and then being okay with the fact that they’re gone. Though it can feel like passivity, letting go is in fact a shift in consciousness that’s a critical part of how you will solve the problem. It takes courage to look at your life and say, this is a helluva pickle I’m in and I need to lighten my load — my financial load, my emotional load, whatever kind of load it is — so I can deal with the reality at hand.
Just as tears are a doorway to the future, so, too, is letting go. When you let go you take an active role in shaping your life because you are taking responsibility not only for an immediate change but also for whatever comes after. When you consciously decide to let go, whatever ensues doesn’t just happen to you. You’re not just a passive pawn in the plot. Deciding to divorce, selling your house, shredding your journal, quitting your job — when you choose to take these actions, you are actively letting go. You are intentionally choosing to move yourself in a new direction.
We’re not used to letting go. We’re used to hanging on for dear life. We hang on for lots of reasons: because something is familiar; because the past is a known commodity and the future is a question mark; because we lack imagination and can’t conceive of a future better than the past we’ve had; because blankies (no matter how ragged and trashed they are) and relationships (no matter how complete they already are or inappropriate they have become) are a comfort to us. We hang on because we’ve been taught that persis-tence is good and we should never give up. Or we’re simply afraid of the free fall, afraid of coming alive as ourselves.