Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue


The Wisdom of Knowing What and When to Let Go

posted by Beyond Blue

The following essay is an excerpt from a wonderful little book, “The Art of Uncertainty: How to Live in the Mystery of Life and Love It,” by Dennis Merritt Jones.

Fruit drops from the tree when it is ready. Staying too long, or moving too early, misses the mark. The mark is the appropriateness that causes the fruit to fall when it is ready…the process has its own timing, and it creates changes in your life when those changes need to happen.
~ Gary Zukav

We already know that change in life is a given. There is no way around this fact. The larger concern should be how we manage the process when it does happen. If we are conscious, we can perceive change in a manner that allows us to understand the deeper meaning, value, and purpose in the experience. When change is thrust upon us unexpectedly, we may be greatly challenged to see it as the appropriate doorway through which we must pass to our greater good. However, if we are to move forward in Earth School to “what can be,” there comes a time when letting go of “what was” becomes a prerequisite.

With mastering the art of uncertainty comes the necessary wisdom of knowing not only what to let go of, but also when to let it go. No doubt, this is a linear process in which timing plays a vital role. The good news is that contained within our karmic and spiritual DNA lies an inherent wisdom that knows far better than we when it is appropriate to release our grasp and let go of that to which we have been clinging. Our job is to bring ourselves into alignment with this inherent wisdom and trust the process.

I once talked to a man who was a professional trapeze artist and teacher. One day while teaching, he seriously injured his shoulder when the woman he was “catching” failed to let go of her trapeze at the right time. He had to hyperextend his arm to catch her, unexpectedly bearing all of her weight with his one arm. He said that if she had let go just one second sooner everything would have been fine. He went on to say that, being a fairly new student, she was probably afraid to let go. Had she been more focused on the rhythm between the two trapezes, it would have been a perfect release and catch. Rubbing his shoulder-slung arm he smiled and declared, “timing is everything.”

All things entail rising and falling timing.
You must be able to discern this.
~ Miyamoto Musashi

How true it is that when it comes to letting go of anything that has been deeply rooted in our lives, timing really is everything. We need only observe the rhythm of Life to know this is true. As we witness nature in “process” we will see that it is not a stagnate thing, but rather a vital life-force always moving; a cyclic movement of things coming and going in a manner that requires letting go and honoring the process of change with grace and ease, making space for that which is to come. When undesired “shift” happens in our lives, it can be difficult to see the appropriateness in that change.

If we were able to take a large enough step back and view the universe at work, we would be able to see the appropriateness in the natural rhythm of change moving through all that is; no one and no thing is exempt. Some things change appropriately slow, so much so that we will never see the change in a visible way in our lifetime, such as mountain ranges rising and crumbing, or the giant Sequoia Redwood trees that grow for thousands of years before they return to the elements from which they came, only to spring up again as a new seedling. Nonetheless, they do change according to their own rhythm. Other changes, such as the coming and going of winter, spring, summer and fall are more obvious and, if we are present enough in the moment to observe the appropriateness of those changes, we will see the perfection of it all.

Again, timing is everything. When we observe Life closely, we can see that every living thing is hardwired with the innate wisdom to know when change happens, not to resist it but to let go and flow with it. The only difference between ourselves and nature is that we need to be reminded that this is so. At the end of the day, the wisdom of knowing when to let go is as important as knowing what to let go of. The good news is, this wisdom lies within each of us and we are never too old to access it on our journey into uncertainty.

Excerpted from THE ART OF UNCERTAINTY by Dennis Merritt Jones with the permission of Tarcher/Penguin, a member of Penguin Group USA. Copyright 2011 by Dennis Merritt Jones

Artwork by Anya Getter.

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Shelly

    I am getting better at recognizing what and when to let go. It’s been an arduous journey for me who has held on to the belief that if I let go, I’ve failed. That belief system has slowly crumbled since by hanging on I continued to not trust in my own wisdom.

    It’s been ‘easier’ albeit more painful to have the other person let go first. Or wait until a situation changes enough that change for me is inevitable. I still tried to hold on. I think that if I don’t have to make the decision and have it made for me, it’s easier. NOT! To give up that control time and time again serves to lessen self esteem and weaken intuitiveness. Listening to the depths of my being about a person or situation cultivates true wisdom.

    For the sake of my mental health, learning to let go is necessary at times.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Kendra

    This is a timely and helpful post. I recently learned that my therapist of several years is retiring, and I am having a very hard time with this. Unfortunately, this comes in a long line of losses that have happened in my life in a fairly short period of time, so it hits pretty hard. I am just learning to trust the process, and to trust God….knowing that I have what I need to get through each step of this journey. That isn’t always clear or easy to know, but the practice of trusting it anyway is getting very familiar.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Anna

    Letting go is so hard. I’m not talking about the little things (that last slice of pizza you want to inhale with gusto but know you shouldn’t or that Yoga class you so love but is too expensive to keep up), obviously, which we all find easier to let go of those things, but letting go of things that really matter can be so painful. I remember letting my husband and toddler son travel out of the country without me. I knew I wasn’t okay with my toddler going *anywhere* without me, but I felt obliged to let them go, and the moment I gave my (verbal only) blessing, the nightmares began, and they hadn’t even left yet. Nightmare after nightmare that all seemed completely unrelated to my obvious fears (“What if something happens to my son and I’m not there?” “What if he asks for his mommy and he refuses to stop crying?”) (Also note how I wasn’t the least bit worried about my husband. Haha.). And after they left, I couldn’t sleep for the first week and was restless the next three. By the fourth week, I had these heartbreaking dreams of being reunited with my family. When they got back, I felt bitter resentment for my husband and honestly believe my son lacked care (never mind that he was alive and healthy). I was sure my son thought I had abandoned him. I am obviously neurotic but that’s not the point (even if it seems like it :) ). The point is, I never did let go. Even when I did, I really didn’t. It was a glimpse into how I handle this “letting go” thing. It’s not pretty.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Belleo

    Wisdom we have when we walk with our Saviour Jesus Christ . His death and resurrection made that possible for all of us . No need for karmic law in my mind that doesn’t exist . Let go and let God that sounds pretty good . I hear some say let him learn his lessons even when they know what is suggested is completely evil .Real love entails being compassionate and taking time to be a real friend . People let go when love enters their reality .Thay’s the love of God friends

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment barb

    dear therese. i like this one. a lot. thank you, always. “let go and let God.” “If God leads you to it He will lead you through it.”

    i don’t believe in coincidence or luck. i believe in God and miracles. thus, i live pretty much in a peaceful state. i am not boasting, i am happy. i don’t like change either. most people don’t. and when our mental disorders (of any kind), get out of balance i think that is when we can’t accept change easily. does that make any sense? it did to me just now. hmm. i have to think on that.

  • http://TheArtofUncertaintly-Knowingwhen&whattoletgo Lisa

    Reading this article was bittersweet to me & has perfect timing in my situation.My husband of 6 years suddenly became chronically & critically ill. At the time this occurred we had an argument. He felt he had to “Let me go” because he was no good for me he really wasn’t a Christian & he didn’t want to hurt me” This was his bi-polar talking.We had a wonderful God given relationship with all the perks that go along with a loving gentle sweet husband. Now 6 mos have passed, Dave is again in critical condition, he has thick fluid around his heart,respiratory distress,end-stage kidney failure,cannot walk, sit up, or talk but he is alive & alert.I don’t know if I should “Let him go” into the Arms of Jesus or should continually pray for his full recovery in faith. Yesterday the Drs. asked me DNR? I didn’t know what to say-DNR let him go or don’t DNR keep him alive in pain & misery. Why should I decide when it is his time to go I just don’t know what he wants I try to leave it in the Will of God, I have alot of faith knowing God can do anything but I also don’t know if I am hoping against all hope that he will recover so I am a Living Example of “THE ART OF UNCERTAINTY” – Let Go or Not?

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/beyondblue/2012/06/the-wisdom-of-knowing-what-and-when-to-let-go.html#post Cindy Bailey

    Again, perfect timing in my life. How you help me is unbelievable. thank you.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Megan

    Thank you, Therese. I am more thankful to have found your blog than words can adequately describe. Everyday of my life, I find myself clinging white-knuckled to the past. For reasons that I don’t understand, my compulsive behavior focuses on people & things that are long since gone from my life. Despite my intelligent mind knowing full well that these people & things will not be a part of my future.

    As I prepare to embark on even more changes, I find myself clinging to the past even more fervently. Focusing on where things went wrong instead of how to make the future right. All I know is that I intend to print out this post, carry it with me, and say a prayer daily for the strength to move on. Thank you again.

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