LETTING GO: OF THE WHY
I write a lot about letting go because it is something that has not always been easy for me. When I was in college, my family went through what felt like a unique experience where we left our church community. When the group of people that I had leaned on for support suddenly turned their back, it created a big sense of loss similar to a death or divorce and I had to do a lot of work to move forward from past expectations and hurt.
But what does "letting go" mean? It's easy to throw the phrase at someone when you think they need to just get over it, move on, or forget. It is also easy to throw it at yourself when you don't want to deal with a problem.
When your life is falling apart, there is a tendency to hold on: to him, to her, to a place (real or metaphorical), to how things were before, to how you wanted them to be, etc...
Letting go for me had to do with letting go of the past - the hurt from past friends and a community, the feelings of loss from a move, the guilt over a bad decision or a missed opportunity, and the feeling that life wasn't going to turn out how I'd planned. And the why. Why did this happen? Could it have been prevented?
One can focus a lot on the why. Maybe the reason "it" happened was preventable, maybe it was not. Either way, at this point, it happened and the only thing you can do now is move forward. That is a hard concept to grasp especially when it's devastating news or a loss. You just want things to go on like they used to before the news, the diagnosis, or the loss. You ask yourself questions - what did I do to cause this? Could I have prevented this? What can I do to make things go back to normal? Why did this happen to me?! Why is this person acting this way, etc..... A lot of times, you will never get an answer. It just happened. Life isn't fair or predictable and it throws all kinds of things at us - good and bad.
For me, once I let go of the expectations on how my life was supposed to be, things took off. My life now is so much richer than I would have ever imagined or even thought to dream, but first I really had to just let go. Replaying the hurt feelings and anger would have never let me move forward with an open mind or heart. Once I let go of the "why did this happen", I was able to enter a new phase of rebuilding and growth. Replaying the why just means you want things to go back to how they were. It will never be the same and letting go of that thought allows you to move on and prepare for something even better.
I recently reconnected with someone that I knew in high school and who was from my old community. This was someone who excelled in everything that they did and was just a kind, good person that people gravitated toward. But, our upbringing was centered in a strict society of expectations and I can see how this person got caught up in the "shoulds". And being the youngest of five, they were always comparing themself against the successes of the older siblings. So they made the comfortable choice - the college, the major, the spouse, the occupation, even the city of residence. And through our conversation, it felt like they were just now starting to wonder and face some of those fears of moving beyond the comfortable and expected. Be courageous! Go for it! It will be so worth it in the end, but first you have to let go of the past and your expectations. I wanted to shout all of that but wasn't sure it was really my place.
Letting go isn't passive; it is actively choosing to let go of the thoughts and emotions holding you back. For me, it is a process rather than an instantaneous event. Most likely you will have to continue to choose to not let something bother you. Something relatively easy to get over may be the person who cut you off in traffic. It may be a little harder to get over that bad grade on a subject you studied forever for or a promotion that you didn't get.
Detach yourself from the outcome. When we hold on, we attach ourself to the problem. Letting go allows us to move forward towards a solution.
#letgo #lettinggo #movingon #howtomoveon