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Letting go to grow
Q: What is it time to let go of?
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I just returned from Spain a couple days ago after finishing the Camino (the Camino de Santiago is a collection of European pilgrim routes that finish in Santiago de Compostela, Spain) - I wrote about my motivations for it here. It was an absolutely wonderful experience that I will share in an upcoming post. Today's post will be short as Mitali is traveling and I have a full inbox and three large suitcases that need to be unpacked from my two month long trip in Europe before the jetlag kicks in.
People choose to do the long trek to Camino de Santiago for all sorts of reasons and in our ten days we encountered people of all ages and nationalities. On day three of our trip, I happened to strike up a conversation with a German psychologist sitting next to me at a cafe. She had been on the road for several weeks but was forced to finally take a few days off due to the appearance of blisters on her feet. I asked her why she had decided to do the Camino and she said "...many reasons but the biggest one is letting go" and mentioned that she was working on finally really letting go of a relationship that had ended a while ago.
The next afternoon, as I lay in bed recovering from six hours of walking, I was struck by a question in the book I was reading describing this very topic of letting go
"What is it time to let go of in my own life right now?" This question marks the first difference between change and transition, for the latter must start with letting go... We periodically reach the point where an attitude, a belief, a style of responding to challenges, a goal or a dream for the future, or an assumption about others - that served us well up to that time - simply isn't what we need for the future.
...Unfortunately people are more likely to ask what new thing they can add to their lives. Even though they may get an interesting answer to that question, they won't be able to use it to make a meaningful transition because people have to start with endings -- letting go of whatever it is time to let go of - before they can make new beginnings. If they fail, they find that even "great ideas" and "really exciting possibilities" simply do not help them. So start with What is it time to let go of in my own life right now?
- William Bridges, Transitions : Making Sense of Life's Changes
I spent several hours on my walk the next day thinking about this. I realized that for the past year I have been working on letting go of a certain set of limiting beliefs that I acquired about myself growing up. Beliefs that were based on things that were either said to me as a child by well-meaning adults or ones that I adopted after certain experiences. I had always assumed that I wasn’t a very strong minded person. Being on the road, pushing myself through physical pain and intentionally thinking through all the goals and experiences I had successfully pursued for the last twenty years showed me otherwise. It turns out that I am actually strong and do possess a good amount of resilience and grit.
I have worked hard on bringing these beliefs into the forefront of my consciousness as these beliefs are often implicit. They influence what I do, how I do it and how I see my accomplishments. I have been carrying these self-beliefs with me for most of my life but they do not serve me well as they are no longer true. This will continue to be a work in progress but bringing awareness to these beliefs has been revelatory.
First, we talk about what letting go is and what it isn’t.
It doesn’t look like giving up.
It doesn’t look like walking out.
It looks like deciding that a new model, behavior or belief is more appropriate now.
It looks like taking care of the transitions, then getting out of the way.
Letting go is about countering the momentum of what is with the possibility of what could be and moving toward that possibility — even if you don’t know how it will turn out. Letting go is an act of courage. It’s a leap of faith.
- Let Go in order to grow, Lisa Zigarmi on Forbes
What about you? Is it time in your life to let go of something or someone that no longer serves you?