Letting Go of What for What?
Self-help materials all encourage people to let go of patterns, habits, and behaviors that aren’t getting them the results they want: more happiness, health, wealth, love. We hear it all the time: "just let go and good things will come to you!"
When it comes to aging, the conversation is no different. We are continually barraged with ads and infomercials that tell us we have to let go of the ways we’ve been doing things, and we have to do them differently: eat right, exercise, meditate, be more social, develop healthy habits, take supplements, and so much more.
My solution? Well, my friend Nicole and I are creating a retreat, bringing women of all ages together to immerse themselves in "Aging Like Nobody’s Business."
Nicole is in her 50’s and going through menopause. She said something really important regarding aging, menopause, and the shifts that are happening for her. She said, "The hardest part of this process is wrapping my head around who I no longer am and who I’m afraid I’m becoming." I love this. I see this to be one of the fundamental practices of aging like a guru. In essence – let go of who you were so you can embrace who you are becoming.
For the first half of our lives we long to grow up and develop into our potential. Then there is that moment where what seemed to be only growing potential is now a steady decline – the bloom is off the rose. Where there was excitement, now there is anxiety, depression, fear, and grief. Or not!
My client Carolyn, who is 67, shared today that she is almost paralyzed by the anxiety that arises when she thinks that someday she will die. She wanted coaching today around the inevitability of dying. Yep, in Life coaching, we focus on every aspect of Life up to the very last nano-second!
THE BIG FAT BE WITH
In the coaching world we have a saying: "That’s a big fat be with!" There are so many aspects of life, so many circumstances that we have no control over – in essence this is a big fat be with. We are immersed in life’s dramas, with no way out, no healing, no solutions, no miracles. It appears that we have to let go of the ideals, the dreams, the hopes and wishes that we are going to be saved from ourselves and from our circumstances. But letting go is just another big fat be with.
Letting go requires a leap of faith from where you are now in your beliefs and fears, to somewhere else. That leap of faith requires faith in something that you haven’t yet allowed to be true, present and real for you – a platform or foundation strong enough to hold you when you leap.
A good example is Carla who is 75 and a hoarder. She has been warned many, many times that she will be evicted because her apartment is a fire hazard. Yet she can’t let go of her stuff, and so she may end up on the streets. Carla doesn’t have faith that by letting go of the boxes upon boxes of memories, there will be something better for her. Her faith is in her belief that she won’t be evicted.
No faith – no letting go!
We have faith in so many aspects of reality. We have faith in banks, in our families, in the people who hired us, in our 401K. We have faith that the foods we eat will keep us nourished – even though research says the opposite. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, we put a great deal of faith in our beliefs rather than in our intelligence. We even put faith in war, though we all talk about wanting peace.
So coming back to letting go . . . it’s all about discerning what it is you are really letting go of, in service to what you will be open to receive.
. . .
Going to the circus as a child I was mesmerized by the trapeze artists. The person would grab onto the trapeze, swing out over a large expansive abyss, or so it seemed, and just at the right moment they would let go, knowing that they would be caught by a person on the other trapeze. They let go because they trusted they would be caught.
When I imagine myself up there on a trapeze, I see myself inevitably letting go because otherwise I’ll be swinging on that one trapeze for ever. Maybe that’s all I want. And at various times in my life, that is all I wanted – the safety and security of the known. But then when I realized that I wasn’t fulfilled, I wasn’t having fun, and I wasn’t feeling as though I was living in my greatest potential, I decided to look and to see that others who have leaped before me, were surprised and amazed with what happened because they took that leap. If they could do it I figured I could do it too!
. . .
Many years ago, I had a dream that I was in an 8×8 ft room on top of a fortress that went on for eternity! My choice in the dream was to either stay in this room for eternity, or to jump and fall for eternity.
That dream has been with me as a teacher, because it is so rich with possibility. You see, if I envision myself as imprisoned inside this 8×8 room, I’m not free to experience the full potential of such an environment. However, if I shift the way I’m interpreting this room, from prison to something else, and let go of the perception that I’m limited by my circumstances, then I am free to experience bliss, curiosity and empowerment within my choice to stay.
Looking at the other option, if I envision myself leaping out of the window of this structure and falling for eternity, then I perceive that I will be in a constant state of fear and terror. Again, if I shift how I’m perceiving this situation from falling with no end, to perhaps being in the potentiality of sprouting wings, or riding the currents, or having fun learning how to fall in a gazillian different ways, then bliss, creativity, fearlessness and awe are available to me.
The point of all of this is that in order to let go of what we are afraid to lose, we have to have something as good or better to step towards. And we only have to have enough faith to take us to the next step on the journey.
So many people I know won’t take action on a particular problem because they can’t see the end result as positive, so they do nothing. I totally get that, and at the same time, to let go of the belief that you have to know the end results opens up possibilities that are beyond imagination.
As we age we are confronted with so many issues that, if taken at face value, could crush our human spirit. Essentially, as Nicole shared – it is really hard to wrap our heads around who we no longer are and who we are becoming. This be-with is a constant throughout our human lives. And to allow ourselves only one simple yet profound question, “who am I inside all the changes, inside all the declines, inside all the endings?” To ask, "Who am I?" liberates us to choose in ways that may not yet allow letting go to happen.
There are no answers. There are no “3 Ways to Let Go of What You Are Afraid to Lose.” Each of us have to come to these ways of letting go for ourselves. Having a thinking partner, such as a life coach can be really helpful. I totally trust that you will find your way to being you in your fullest potential as you learn to let go.
Enjoy the adventure of being you!
For more blogs, books, videos, or if you are interested in coaching or training with Dr. Rosie, check out her website: www.theparadigmshifts.com