Recently, my husband and a couple of his songwriting friends wrote a funny song about relatives coming to stay at Christmastime. It was totally tongue-in-cheek and instead of singing “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow” they changed the lyric to “Let it go, let it go, let it go!” This got me thinking about all the things I’ve carried with me through this year that I might need to let go, let go, let go in the new year.
“Sometimes letting go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.” ~Eckhart Tolle~
I’ve often been accused (and rightly so!) of not being great at the art of letting go. Admittedly, I can be a bit (OK, A LOT!) of a control freak especially when it comes to things I really want in life. When we were buying our farm there were a lot of obstacles to overcome including trying to sell the house we currently owned on a tight deadline, coupled with a bad home inspection, a septic tank that needed to be replaced, and all the hoops you jump through for a new mortgage. At times, I wondered if I was pushing too hard and maybe this move wasn’t meant to be. But I stubbornly moved forward and thankfully it all worked out in the end.
But what of those times when it didn’t work out no matter how hard I pushed? In my younger years, a relationship of 8 years came to an end even though I had tried everything to keep it together. While I did learn some valuable lessons from that time and don’t feel the years were wasted, I often wonder what I had missed out on by staying locked on that path and what direction my life might have gone. I might have chosen a different college, spent more time with my dad who was gone too soon, or taken an alternate career path. Not necessarily better, but definitely different.
In other areas of life, this stubbornness has served me well, pushing me to not let go of my goals. In both athletic and academic endeavors, not giving up on a championship dream or the goal of a higher degree has helped keep me motivated to work hard and forced me to keep reaching for those dreams.
So, I guess the real art in letting go is figuring out what you need to let go of and what you need to keep working at doggedly no matter what, knowing when to push harder and when to let things work themselves out in their own time. But how do you know when you are being strong and seeing something through vs. holding on too long and not knowing when it’s time to let go?
Here are some questions you can ask yourself when trying to decide whether to keep going along path or just let it go.
- Are you honestly unhappy with your present situation? – If you are really unhappy then maybe it’s not worth the extra fight. Ask yourself if you will be truly happy if you can turn things around.
- Are there things within your control that you can do to change your situation? – Many of us hold on to the hope that circumstances or people will change. Remembering that you can only control your own actions, thoughts, and feelings may help you to realize that letting go of someone or something that is out of your control may be a much better choice.
- Have you changed? – As we grow older, our needs, goals, habits, and tastes may change. I have talked about our recent decision to let go of the majority of our horse lifestyle, selling our truck and trailer and going from 5 horses down to 2. It was a very hard decision to let go of our riding life, but we realized that even when we had a chance to ride we were choosing other things. The truth was we had been done with it for a couple of years and it was time to let it go, no matter how difficult it was.
- Is fear making the decision for you? – Letting go can be extremely scary. None of us knows what lies ahead and we often wonder if we are doing the right thing. Try to decide if fear is holding you back from letting go and moving on to something different and possibly better. You may need to push past the fear to move on to something better.
- Are you living in the past? – Letting go of things that have already happened releases you to experience new people, places, and things. Let go of old grudges, forgive past mistakes, and move on to something new and joyful.
In the coming year I’d like to let go of limiting beliefs, perfectionism, and negative thinking. I’d love to hear what things you are looking to gently release while moving towards the future. Share your thoughts in the comments below.