“Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on. Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.”
A few weeks ago I completed an assignment to review with my life coach. Before we met, I decided to add something to my intentions for 2016. With deep deliberation, I wrote down a list of what I am willing to let go of this year. The list was only six points long, but it was huge.
Two days after I made that declaration to the field of life, to God, to the Universe, or whomever or whatever I made the statement to, caca poo hit the fan. In the span of a week, some serious letting go happened at mind-dizzying speed. I should have specified: gently and with ease (which I have since added). I didn’t really mean let’s get rid of it all in the next week!
Even when we know something or someone is not working out for the best, it is not always easy to let go. We cling. We hang onto relationships that are toxic or past their due date. We clench onto jobs that we hate for ever-loving life. We hold onto old clothes we’ll never wear. And we even keep stale food tucked away in cupboards or layered under ice in our freezers.
Fear of the unknown.
My mum has a belief which is evident in a saying she’s repeated for years: Better the devil you know that the one you don’t. In other words, she’d rather deal with an arse she knows than someone she doesn’t. The next one could be worse.
What if there’s nothing past this? What if I can’t find another job? What if I never know love before I die? What if … this is as good as it gets?
Not wanting to deal with confrontation.
Oh God, it’ll be a mess. I’ll have to confront this situation or this person and I don’t need more problems in my life. What if I just let it ride? What if I just accept this shite and carry on?
Misguided notions of strength and stoicism.
I’m not the type to give up. I will see it through to the end. I’m rough, tough, and used to hardships. This may just be my lot in life.
I don’t have to step up my game in this relationship, job, friendship. I can cruise if I stay and keep things status quo. This is so much easier than going for gold.
Loss of identity.
Who will I be without him/her? Who will I be without this career? This job? What will I do with my time?
The vacuum that precedes the change.
After the letting go comes the hollow hell phase. I don’t want to face that. I can’t face that. I’ll lose it.
Sometimes we are given lessons, which repeat over and over until we take the opportunity to step up, take a stand for ourselves, and let go. A few weeks ago a repeating theme showed up in my life (oh, joy). A sudden challenge roused a tremendous physical response in my body. It also triggered a flashback to a strikingly similar moment.
I recalled sitting across from my young boss in a café. He’d just told me that he’d been on a “covert” mission and had visited my accounts, which I already knew because my annoyed clients had told me. He shared with me his findings, which seemed to perplex and almost disappoint him.
“I can’t believe it, but they all love you. I didn’t get one bad comment, one negative shred of feedback,” he said.
“Yes, I know.” (It wasn’t my first rodeo. I’d once been accused by another manager of paying my clients to say wonderful things about me–as though they could not possibly be true.)
I have decades of sales experience and my forte is relationship-building, which this young man had yet to conceive the value of. This was in the midst of an economic crash and while my competitors were struggling with 50% decreases in sales, I was sitting at a mere 6% deficit.
He went on to tell me a long story of the new equipment they were buying and the company’s plan (and costs) for offering better service. And then he proceeded to cut my base wage in half, combined with a new cockamamie commission plan. Stunned, I recalled my very first thought: Tell him to fuck off. Shake his hand, tell him to fuck off, and leave.
But I didn’t.
I did not want to have to search for another sales job. I did not want to retrain. I unequivocally did not want to kiss more managerial butt. I was in fear for my survival. So I stayed. And I allowed myself to feel that my worth, my many years of expertise, had been swiftly sliced into half of its value.
Everyday, I awoke unhappy because of this lack of respect and devaluation. I still gave my clients the best of me, because I cared for them, but I felt deep resentment as I struggled to cover my basic needs. I let two young, inexperienced managers’ decision determine my sense of self-worth. And within six months, I was diagnosed with cancer—after a 20-year triumph.
This time, I saw the writing on the wall. I had just been praised extensively and had been doing an impeccable job at a demanding and unusual part-time gig. I had gone above and beyond. And in one shocking moment, I was undervalued in a way that defies all and any logic. This time I remembered that same repeating lesson, and this time, I finally got it. In spite of the old fear of survival, in spite of that long-standing pattern of carrying on in a lack of appreciation with a stiff upper lip, I let go. I did not engage in any further drama. I walked away.
I could almost see and hear my guides high-fiving and doing Pharrell’s Happy dance interspersed with shouts of “finally!”
There begs the question: was it a good thing or a bad thing? My normal response would be “bad.” But by shifting to neutrality, I can see the gift behind the opportunity to take a stand for myself, which lead to more of the same that week. And there are the mysterious, severe headaches that had started before Christmas when I swept under the rug the first inkling of this undervaluation. As soon as I walked, the headaches began to dissipate. I don’t know what follows, but I do know that from my soul’s perspective, it is a good thing.
That event created a domino effect. If you know anything about tarot, it’s been like living in The Tower card (disaster, upheaval, sudden change, revelation).
For most of us, there is great discomfort in the letting go of what we know. Before the new arrives, there is a deafening emptiness. This, my friends, is the tough spot. This is the space of nothingness where the flotsam is behind you in the wake and land cannot be seen ahead.
The challenge is to find peace in the void. To not fall prey to bobbing around in the boat of life waiting for the sharks in a state of hopelessness. To muster optimism even though you see no evidence of a shoreline. To embrace the uncertainty.
The strength and courage is in the letting go of the things we know are self-dishonoring. The point of power is in the paradox; that in order to have what we deeply desire, we must let go of our attachments to circumstances and relationships that are blocking the path to our ‘right’ life.
What’s on the other side of the emptiness? We cannot know. Could be good, could be bad. Or … it may possibly be something bigger, better, and more bodacious than we could ever imagine.
Let it go.
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