We read and hear about letting go in all its varying forms. But what does it really mean to let go and why are so many of us so reticent to do so?
I think that in order to address this question, we have to consider all of the reasons why each of us hangs on so tight. What are we hanging on to? What are we afraid will happen if we let go? What are we protecting? What do you believe the world would think of you if you were to let go and JUST BE YOURSELF?
What are we hanging on to?
We hang on to old, limiting beliefs about ourselves and the world that we live in. It’s rude to be late (even at the sacrifice of something more important or meaningful). It’s gross to be overweight (so I starve myself and deprive myself of the pleasure of eating great food). I have to get a university degree (even though I’d love to work in construction…so I sit in a class day after day for 4 years while I really want to be outside building things). Being too sexual is bad (so even though I’m married and love my spouse, I can’t bring myself to have great sex with him/her because there’s a huge fear that prevents me from going there). Religion is for bible-thumpers (so even though I have this innate longing to commune with something bigger than me, I don’t. I don’t want to be rejected). I need to be loud and proud; show the world how confident I am (even though I prefer to sit back and listen and be quiet). I need to be subdued and quiet and calm (even though I prefer to be boisterous, full of energy and shout out my enthusiasm to the world). I need to be in control…never let ‘em see you sweat (even though I am human and my very nature is to surrender and be vulnerable at times in order to know myself and be healthy and whole).
Our families, our culture and our communities teach us how to be in this world when, innately, we already know how to be. It is one thing to learn how to take care of your health, pump your own gas and pay your bills. These are life skills that are typically taught to us very well by our families, culture and community. I’m not talking about life skills. I’m talking about how you move in your body. I’m talking about how you interact with others. I’m talking about whether you prefer to make people laugh or to make people think. I’m talking about what really floats your boat, regardless of the good opinion of others.
What are we afraid will happen if we let go?
I don’t know about you, but my biggest fears of letting go are that people wouldn’t accept me. They’d reject me. That if I spoke about some of the things that I’m passionate about, I’d be relegated to the sidelines. I’m afraid that people will see my vulnerable side and then what? Would I be stepped on? Taken advantage of? Seen as weak?
What are we protecting?
Since the ego can do nothing other than judge, I would say that’s a good place to start. When we’re not letting go, we’re in ego. Only egos feel the need to defend. And with good reason. A room full of big egos is a tough one to navigate. People will get offended easily. People will be defensive. People will need to be right and those same people will need to make others wrong. But in an egoless world (or mind) nothing needs protecting. Absolutely nothing.
What do you believe the world would think if you were to let go and just be yourself?
They would think you actually had problems; fears; vulnerabilities. DUH! They would think that there are times that you don’t have all of the answers. DUH! They would think that you had uncertainty about things. DUH! They would think that the things that you love were weird. DUH! They would think that the amount of love you have to give is overwhelming. DUH! They would know that you’re not perfect. DUH!
Perhaps letting go is in the radical acceptance that our imperfections are not imperfections at all. Maybe they’re the most interesting, awareness-shifting, fascinating facets of our being. What we have labeled as imperfections are actually the very things that make us tick.
Think of the one thing that, in a room full of people, you would least like people to know about you. And now reconsider that this very thing may just be your ticket to the highest level of self-awareness that exists. We all have something. Shame is a wicked teacher. One of the best. The first step in letting go is with yourself. Be willing to consider that this thing you keep hidden, even from yourself most days, is your ticket. It’s your ticket out of hell (ego). Let it teach you something about yourself that you didn’t know before. Let go of the harness and the bonds that are holding it in place and have a good, long look at it.
And then go tell someone about it. Let it go out there.
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