Sunday, March 13, 2016

When To Let Go

"The only way we make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance."
-Alan Watts

Life can be so much fun. There is such a richness of being with our feelings as opposed to trying not to feel our feelings. And in a shift of consciousness, it is actually more work intensive to try not to feel than it is to just feel. Much of our time, though, we do spend distancing us from our feelings, staying in our heads and our cerebral intellect, allowing anxiety to live within us, or even harboring feelings of guilt with which we can hide from our deeper feelings. There is a good reason for this. Our intellect, our reason, our anxiety, our guilt, our trying to stay busy all help to protect and defend us from feelings that are too much for us to be with. As the saying goes, life happens when we are busy planning. 

With that said, as things get tough in life, as things look like they are falling apart, as houses flood, as forest fires destroy our homes, as relationships are crumbling, as we are dealing with deaths of someone important to us or to an idea or to a career, and so on, when is it time to feel the pain and disappointments and humiliations and to let go and move on? This is such an iconic question and one which only each one of us individually can answer for us. No one else is close enough to us to answer that question for us. Yet many of us try to answer that question for others as if we know for them. 

I recently watched the movie called Joy in which Jennifer Lawrence stars as the main character, Joy. I will not be a spoiler here if you haven`t seen the movie, so I won`t say much about it except that it depicts a great example of how when everyone else is telling us to give up to let go, and we know in our very beings that it is not time, and we will not give up on our dream and we will carry on and we will not let go, and we can and do succeed. In this movie despite what everyone else was telling her, she followed her dream, and with a lot of work, she was successful. Being able to do this also involves knowing a part of us, our essence, and not compromising it. We only have one soul, ours, and only we know it if we open and allow us to. 

In other situations, we continue holding on and trying to make something work and continue planning and trying and never let go. Sometimes we do that because we can`t let go of something we want to believe about us, about our parents or an important family member. Sometimes we hold on far too long and continue telling ourselves the same story of people and events over and over again and are not able to accept things as they were and people as they were and are. So we keep trying and trying and hope that this time, finally, things will be different. It is much like doing the same thing over and over again with the same result, and hoping that this time it will be different. That is a definition of crazy. It doesn’t mean we are crazy in all ways, or that we are suffering from a mental illness necessarily, it just means that in that particular way we are acting kind of crazy, or irrationally. When do we finally do something differently, and/or just let go and realize that this is not working, and we are just making ourselves sick?


Have you  ever had the experience of someone you love that no matter how hard you try, or how many times you explain something, or no matter what you do or say that this other person will not get you and understand you and be able to hear you and step in your shoes? How painful that experience is, especially if you love that person. Many of us have such experiences with our parents, our siblings, our partners, our children, etc. When that is our early experience in life, it is especially hard because we need our parents and caretakers to hear us and see us and love us...even to survive. So we keep trying, thinking, maybe this time...they will hear me. This pattern continues throughout life until we can accept and reconcile with ourselves that this was our early experience, and nothing can change that. We have to feel the pain of it. And importantly, we need to know that it is not our fault, it wasn`t our fault, and it never will be our fault. It is not about us, even though it certainly feels like it is. It is really about what is going on with the other person. But it hurts, and often it is too painful to feel, so we run from it through drinking or staying busy, or feeling physical aches and pains, or feeling anxious, or trying to explain it away, and so on. Who in your life is this true of? Or maybe you have experienced a situation where no matter how hard you try  or what you do, nothing is making the outcome you want. When to let go, and how do you know that it is time to just let go, or time to try a different way or this last time, just when you were going to give up, it will work out?