I have a really hard time letting go. Sure, I (mostly) don’t sweat the small stuff. But the big stuff—the stuff I really really want—is hard for me to release. Yeah, yeah, I know the Universe knows better and will deliver in spades blah blah. But damn, that’s hard to trust sometimes, isn’t it?
I’m learning some things about this whole letting go business, and I thought I would share them with you.
Don’t get over it
I had it all wrong. I thought detaching—letting go—was about not caring anymore. Getting over it. Moving on. But dammit, I couldn’t make myself not care. I wasn’t over it. I didn’t want to move on.
Detachment is not about not caring anymore, it’s about deeply accepting whatever you’re feeling in a given moment and not making yourself wrong for any of it. You will be all over the place. One moment you’ll be hopeful, the next you’ll despair. Detaching is letting yourself be all over the place without reacting to it all. And by reacting, I mean trying to fix it. The not very functional and unkind way I try to fix it is by making whatever I’m feeling wrong. So if I’m hopeful, I tell myself I’m being a fool and I need to get over it. And if I despair, I deeply grieve and tell myself I can’t have what I want. That’s pretty much a suck-sandwich, isn’t it? I learned that detachment is simply letting all of those mixed feelings exist without reacting and trying to fix them. They’re just there. Letting them be there makes me feel calm. It’s living with the ambiguity, the lack of clarity, the mess—acceptance.
Letting go is letting yourself have it all, the whole enchilada of complex emotions without running after each one and trying to fix it. Funny how we think fixing what is “wrong” with us will make us feel ok, when it’s really accepting exactly how we feel that makes us feel most ok.
We are absolutely entitled to our feelings. In fact, we must feel them.
So, my friends, you will feel grief. You will feel disappointment. You will feel anger. You will feel fear. You can’t think your way out of these emotions. They aren’t bad! Every feeling is valid. We get all crazy and stuck in our emotions (and thoughts!) when we deny our feelings. Allowing yourself to feel and being as compassionate with yourself as you possibly can is the way through.
When you allow yourself to feel, you will find that emotions have messages for you. Karla McLaren in her amazing book, The Language of Emotions, tells us each emotion has a function:
Fear –> Intuition (Whoa, right? It’s true! Listening to your fear will make you crazy-intuitive.)
Anger –> Boundaries (Where do you need to shore them up?)
Sadness –> Wait for it… Letting go (Yep, grieving. xo)
Yes you will get sick of crying. You will be a hot mess.
And then, sometimes, you will be ok. You’ll laugh. You’ll have some fun. You’ll have moments of feeling fully alive. You’ll create movement in your life. Inspiration will return.
You will feel like… you.
You will do the Attachment/Detachment Dance
(Sadly, not as much fun as the Safety Dance)
Letting go is a process, not an event. I’m so all-or-nothing in my crazy head. I thought letting go was a destination, the promised land of getting over it! Hahahaha! I’m so funny. Really, you have to be in here in my head—hi-larious. So again, if I wasn’t in some perfect Zen state of detachment, I was, say it all together friends—wrong!
You will get attached. You will really want it and want it that way. How could you not? It’s human nature that as we travel down our path, we get an idea of how it’s going to turn out. And then we want that. Seriously, how can we not become attached to an outcome? The very nature of wanting creates attachment. And not wanting is not the answer. I used to think it was, but ya gotta want to have the wild life. So you want, and then attach.
And then, almost inevitably, it doesn’t turn out the way we thought.
Time to detach.
And the dance commences.
One moment, you’ll be totally trusting that the Universe has got your back and will be delivering “this or something better” on a silver platter when the time is right. You’ll let yourself feel everything and be thinking, “I’ve totally got this.” Detachment!
Then Bam! You’ll get attached again. Something will trigger you. And in the sage words of the Backstreet Boys, you’ll be saying, “I want it that way.”
The key here is to let yourself have that too. Let yourself be attached, you just hang on like that little kitty. It’s ok. Let it be ok. Ah… there, detachment again.
You will do the attachment/detachment dance about a bazillion times. It’s ok. You’re ok. I promise. Hang in there. (Heh)
Lean heavily on your trusted friends, your family, your dog and most importantly, the Universe, or whatever power you believe in that’s larger than yourself. Write your prayers each night and ask for help accepting all that you feel, all that is. Ask for help and support in processing your pain and disappointment. Ask for help to create some joy and nourishment for your soul. Ask, ask, ask. Text your friends like a teenage stalker, call them, go to movies together, cry, tell them all the crazy in your head. Ask them to just listen and love you without trying to fix it. If you don’t have a friend like this, consider hiring a coach or a therapist to help you through this time and act as a compassionate witness and guide. It’s ok to lean. You don’t have to go through this alone.
You, my friend, are not alone. You’re ok. You are loved.
And you’ve so got this.