Distracting yourself is not the same as letting go.
Trying not to think about something is not the same as letting it go.
Pretending something doesn’t matter is not the same as letting it go.
There’s a difference between Not Focusing on something and Letting it Go.
If you truly want to be free of something…
If you really want to be able to move on…
You must relinquish control, or more accurately, the belief that you have control over something outside of yourself.
Letting go is a conscious act.
It’s not something that just happens.
And it’s not something that results from you simply choosing to focus on something else.
To truly let go, you must consciously choose to let go.
Otherwise you’re still holding on, perhaps subconsciously, but the result is the same.
If you’re still holding on, you have not opened up space for something inspired or better to happen.
On some level you’re still hoping you can control the outcome and make it what you want, or expect, it to be.
I’ve experienced this so many times.
I’ve known I needed to let something go… a job, a business, a decision, a relationship. But because letting go can be challenging when you’re a make-it-happen kind of person, instead of really letting it go, my tendency was to just set it aside and focus on something else.
Problem was, it was still lurking in the background, taking up space in my mind.
The proof of that is, it kept coming up.
As a result, my mind kept trying to figure out what to do.
That internal game of mental Ping-Pong inevitably ensued and I would drive myself crazy trying to figure out what my next step should be.
I would torture myself trying to figure out why the situation was happening, what it meant, did I cause it, how could I fix it, and on and on and on.
The time I agonized over whether or not to close my consulting business, and walk away from $60K in client contracts, because I knew my heart wasn’t in it anymore and there was other work I was being called to do.
I kept telling myself I was done, but I was afraid to walk away from the money. What if the new work didn’t generate enough income?
I was afraid of letting my clients down. Would they be angry with me for cancelling their contracts? Was I being selfish? Did I have an obligation or responsibility to keep working with them since they had placed their trust in me, and invested in my services?
This went on in my head for a good six months, until I got tired of driving myself crazy and finally closed the business.
Was it scary? Yes.
Did I go broke or end up homeless because I stopped earning money? No, within a year I was making more money doing what my heart had been calling me to do.
Were my clients angry? Some were disappointed but ultimately they understood and supported my decision. And they went on without me (proof that none of us is as indispensable as we might like to think).
My new business took off in ways it hadn’t been able to while I was hanging onto the old business. Perhaps because I was able to dedicate all of my attention and focus on the new, or perhaps simply because my letting go signaled the Universe I was all in and ready to move forward.
The act of consciously letting go, goes beyond how you feel.
It changes your energy and has the power to change results.
Currently, we’re in the final stages of renovating the home we bought in North Carolina. We’ve done most of the work ourselves, but we chose to outsource the kitchen cabinets. There have been multiple delays and mistakes, and a month after our kitchen was supposed to be complete, it isn’t.
I told myself before we started the kitchen I didn’t want this remodel to turn into the same frustrating experience our last kitchen remodel turned into. In that case, a promised 6-week remodel turned into a 12-week project. My frustration, mostly due to my inability to make it happen quicker despite all of my follow up and expressions of disappointment, made what should have been an exciting and fun project, one that left a bad taste in my mouth.
I didn’t want our current project to turn out the same way, especially because I’m acutely aware of how my attitude and approach to a situation can completely color my experience.
I was doing pretty well through the first couple of delays.
However, after several mistakes, and then getting no response to my inquiries about when the project would actually be completed, I found myself falling into that familiar frustration.
The good thing is I recognized it.
I told myself I’m just going to focus on other things, and when it happens, it happens.
Well, guess what?
It was still there. Even though I tried to distract myself that frustration kept creeping in. I was calling or texting the contractor every day, and when I’d get no response, the frustration, and anger, and fear (what if they never come back?) started creeping in.
I had planned to call once again to try to get an answer about their timetable, reasoning if they keep hearing from me everyday, maybe they’ll finally take my call or get back to me.
But yesterday morning’s meditation was all about Accepting What Is. So I decided to take a day off from following up, and accept what was.
I consciously Let It Go, just for the day.
I didn’t tell myself I was giving up on the situation, or that I was never going to follow up again. I didn’t resign myself to waiting until they finally got around to calling me back or finishing the job. I didn’t even acknowledge that I was OK with what was happening.
All I did was say to myself, “I am letting this go for today.”
A few hours later my husband texted me from work, asking if I’d heard back about the cabinets, and I told him I had decided to let it go for the day. His bringing it up did not provoke any anger, frustration, or fear. That’s when I knew I had truly let it go.
And then, you’ll never guess what happened.
Well maybe you will if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time.
I got a text back from the cabinet company (a response I had been waiting over a week for), letting me know the cabinets would be done this week.
And I said to myself, “of course.”
Because that is what always happens.
I could share many, many other stories like this, these are just two examples.
Every time I choose to let go, something good happens.
This is probably a mental battle I will continue to struggle with. It’s not natural for me to surrender and let go. I was born a fighter with a driven, make-it-happen personality. I’ve been working on learning to let go for 10 years. The evidence continues to support that letting go works better, but old habits are hard to break.
The good news is, the more you do it and the more evidence you collect, the quicker you recognize when you’re hanging on, or simply distracting yourself, and the sooner you can choose to actually let go.
And the even better news is, you can choose to let it go for the moment, for today. You don’t have to make some big scary decision to let it go forever. Because tomorrow is another day, and you can choose again to let it go in that moment. And by then, there’s a pretty good chance something has already happened to reinforce your decision to let it go.