“…having without possessing, acting with no expectations, leading and not trying to control; this is supreme virtue.”
- Lao-tzu in Tao Te Ching (10)
LETTING GO. Do you get upset when things don’t turn out the way you expected? Is your mind cluttered with regrets and resentments? What are you holding on to that is holding you back?
I used to hang on to just about everything – worn-out clothes, old papers, even my previous job identity. I was following the “just in case” philosophy. “I’ll keep this just in case I have an occasion to wear a big taffeta dress… just in case I need research on the online industry from 10 years ago… just in case they don’t take me seriously as an entrepreneur.” I was even hanging on to an old beau. I would run through my mind decisions we had made at certain points in our courtship. “If I had said yes, we would be together now. If we had just talked about it, he would have understood.” That inner dialogue was consuming my energy for years. To top it off, every man I met would have to live up to the vision of my bygone love. Since the perfect union was really an illusion, nobody measured up. When I finally forgave him for prior transgressions, took charge of my own choices, and spent time developing my spiritual life, I was able to let go and let in more fulfilling relationships. Now that he’s married and I’m happily involved, we have been able to get back to a deep soul connection – the thing that attracted us to each other in the first place. We both have said goodbye to hurts from the past, and have welcomed in a new relationship based on the Present. He has become my new old friend.
The concept of letting go applies most tangibly to things, such as the “skinny jeans” you still have from high school or the dusty fax machine that doesn’t work anymore. When you finally clear the physical clutter from your world, you can visibly see the space it creates. What is harder to deal with is recognizing and releasing emotional strongholds, such as the responsibility for your son who has a drug addiction or the dreams of what might have been if you had followed your heart. Holding on to unproductive emotions – such as guilt, shame, fear and anger – is fertile ground for even more dysfunctional feelings to grow, such as regret, pain, obsessive thinking, and bitterness. Living in denial and not owning the consequences of your actions, leads you down the path of self-destruction. Similarly, trying to “save” another person by constantly “fixing” a situation, leads them down the rocky road of dependency and decreased self-esteem, which leads to a host of other problems. As Confucius said, “To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.” It is your choice. Holding on simply holds you where you are, and prevents you, and possibly, another person, from growing.
Letting go is the first step in the journey toward a more authentic life. When you let go emotionally, you’re not throwing things away, you are simply leaving things as they are without attachment to them. From a Buddhist perspective, you are liberating yourself and others from suffering. Think of things, relationships, and life itself, as precious gifts that are on loan to you. Cherish the moments, learn from the experiences, and move on. Let go of the assumption that you know what is right. Have faith in the Universe and trust that no matter what happens ALL is working for your Highest Good. Instead of simply surviving, make a commitment to thrive. If you were married and now divorced, instead of endlessly lamenting the partnership, become a partner with yourself. If you are still grieving the death of a loved one, celebrate their life by living joyfully every day. Take the power away from the distorted reality in your mind, and start being here now. When you live in the Present, and let go of what you think should be, you invite in a greater sense of inner peace and divine inspiration.
Today, I let go.
I refuse to allow the past to make me miserable in the Present. I don’t hold on to anything longer than it actually lasts. I do not let “what ifs” and “shoulds” disturb my peace. I am no longer a victim of my own thoughts and behaviors. I take responsibility for my choices and consequences and then move on. At the same time, I accept that I can not control the Universe. I allow each day to unfold.
I understand that when I hold on to fear, I lose my ability to see clearly. When I let go, I am open to receive divine solutions. I let go of expectations and judgments. I allow others to be who they are. I offer encouragement, without enabling destructive behavior. In realizing that I don’t need to be right, I set myself free.
Today, I let go.
Listen to the Affirmation:
Copyright Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy. Power Living® Column Vol. 55.05, originally published December 2005. Teresa Kennedy has written over 70 “The Power of…” columns that are a part of the Power Living® Empowerment Series and available for syndication. Call 212-901-6913 for more information.
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