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24 May

Life brings us a lot of different experiences. Some are happy, some sad, things go well and then not so well, disappointments and victories come, and with each experience we learn something more about ourselves, our lives, and those around us. As we change we carry information forward from what we’ve learned. Those lessons help us understand more about who we are and what we want, but they may also color the way we perceive things. For instance, if we have a very bad experience with a dog, we may fear or hate all dogs going forward. Or if something painful happens to us in a specific situation, we may avoid all similar situations in the future. It’s good to learn from our experiences but if they create filters that restrict our lives we may miss out on opportunities available to us. If we learn as we go without fear or avoidance, we will be more successful in living fully and embracing our lives completely. We can’t predict the future but the odds of repeating an exact experience going forward is unlikely. Allowing one bad or uncomfortable situation to color our lives indefinitely may keep us locked down and unable to see everything available to us. We can navigate difficult experiences, learn from them, and then move on. This life is all about change. We don’t have to hold onto anything that holds us back.

Sometimes we have pre-conceived ideas about things based on what we’ve seen in the past or what we’ve been taught. The problem with assuming is that we’re often wrong in the assumption. If we decide something is round because it was round before, and we’ve heard it’s round but never seen it, we may proceed accepting that as truth even if what we’re looking at is a square. Our minds can play tricks on us if we let them and we can be convinced of something that isn’t real because of where we’ve been or what we’ve seen in the past. If we can set our personal experiences aside and look at our situations objectively and openly, we may find that things are completely different than what we first imagined they would be. Learning to see things as they really are will open our lives up to new possibilities for growth and understanding, but we must be willing to see clearly and accept what is real.

It’s wise to protect ourselves from situations we believe will hurt us or make our lives difficult. And there is nothing wrong with pro-actively trying to be in the best place we can. But if we lock the doors around us because we are afraid from a previous experience, or we aren’t sure we can manage whatever is locked behind them, we may be protected from possible pain but we may also prevent possible happiness. If we filter our possibilities because we are unsure or afraid, we also filter any benefits that may come to us. It takes courage to step out of our comfort zones and take a chance, but we have sufficient courage to do anything we want. We are able to make excellent decisions and brave enough to move forward. Life teaches us a lot and we can do everything we need to be successful and happy. There isn’t anything we can’t manage and we can open all the doors in front of us.

Today if you’ve been holding back because of experiences in the past and you aren’t sure about going forward, remember you can do anything. Open all the doors. There is nothing you can’t handle. Be confident. You have everything you need to be successful and happy.

Baggage

2 Jan

As we navigate through our lives our experiences leave impressions on us. Sometimes they are scars from events that have hurt us, sometimes they are precious memories from times when things were wonderful, and sometimes they are just an accumulation of things we learn. Everything we experience changes us in some way, but when we have bad experiences, they may leave lasting marks that we carry with us. If the scars are painful and heavy, they can impact our lives going forward. Like baggage we can’t abandon, we pull it along with us. It might be small like an overnight bag or we may have a dozen over-sized steamer trunks we drag along. Whatever it is, it takes effort to carry it and can make it hard for us to experience joy or see the possibilities of happiness in front of us. It takes work to carry heavy baggage, it’s strenuous, and it takes concentration. We have to watch where we’re going more carefully, and navigate complicated turns with precision. It’s hard to be spontaneous, or trust that we’ll get through. When we’re carrying a lot behind us our lives are harder and we feel the weight every day.

Nobody has a perfect life. Nobody gets through without some disappointment or pain, sadness or grief. We all suffer and have bad experiences along with the good ones. It’s how we handle them that affects our lives going forward. If we’re suffering and have been hurt, we can hold onto the pain for the rest of our lives. We can carry distrust, bitterness, wariness, anger, and suspicion with us. We can keep ourselves separate from those around us and hold on to our baggage, checking it, making sure it’s still there, and keeping it close. Deep betrayal, loss of faith, intense disappointment, and pain are difficult to go through. They change us and if we let them, can paralyze our lives. We can give our control over to them, lock our security safely away, and allow them to make every personal decision we have. But we don’t have to do that.

We have the power to face whatever comes to us. Bad experiences can be conquered. Even the one thing we think we could never overcome is possible to move past. Our ability to move forward in our lives is only hampered by our own decisions. We can carry our baggage with us for as long as we want to. But when we’re ready to be happy again, we can set it down and walk away. We don’t need it to make any decisions going forward, and we can be happy if we let it go. Leaving it behind does not diminish the pain we suffered when we had it. But if we really want to be happy again, we have to let it go and walk away. We have the power to control our lives. We can’t change what’s already happened, but we can change how much we let the past determine our future. We deserve to be happy. We deserve to be free of pain. We deserve everything we are hoping for. We can do anything we want and we don’t need any previous baggage holding us back. We can leave it behind and move on.

Today if you’ve been letting something from your past determine how you’re living your life, if you’re holding onto pain or disappointment, you can let it go. You can set it down and walk away, leaving it behind as you move forward. You don’t have to carry anything with you. You have all you need to be happy and successful. Let go. You deserve only the best. You have everything you need to be happy. Embrace that.

Have Some of Mine

3 Oct

Everyone has different gifts, talents, and skills. We all learn different things as we grow, and some of us are born with special talents. Sometimes we get the opportunity to share those benefits with others. Perhaps we share them by participating in a group project, or maybe by teaching someone something they’re interested in. There are limitless opportunities for sharing if we keep ourselves open. But some people don’t want to share what they have. They want to have proprietary ownership over what they know. In the job force some consider this job security. They believe if nobody else knows what they know or can do what they can they will always have a job. That may be true, but if we don’t share what we have, we don’t have the opportunity to feel connected to those around us. Sharing our personal lives allows us to enhance and build our relationships, and when we give we never lose anything. Like the flame on a candle, we can share our light with an infinite number of people, and still have all we need. We’re just making our experiences wider in scope and building a more expansive field to relate to.

If we keep all our gifts to ourselves, and are stingy with them, we end up isolating ourselves from others. If there are no points of commonality between us and those around us, we end up standing alone. We can hold all our cards close to our chests but that will just prevent others from getting close. Some people prefer their lives that way. They don’t want close relationships and they don’t want to interact with others any more than they must. We all have a different level of comfort in dealing with others, but if we want to feel like we belong, if we want friendships and strong relationships, we have to let others get close to us. We can’t get close by standing back. Sharing with others who we are, and what we know helps open doors. And open doors invite others in, and make us approachable.

If someone near us has a skill or gift we’d like to learn, we may ask them to share it with us. Most people are happy to do that, and as we learn about their particular advantage, we also learn more about them. As they teach us, they learn more about us. We create stronger personal bonds, and become closer in our relationship with them. If they were just acquaintances, the experience may make them friends. If they were friends already, it may create a deeper friendship. We interact with people every day. Bringing them into our lives, and getting closer to their lives will be a blessing to us. When we have a large network of others around us who understand us, and who we can trust, our lives are more comfortable, and we are happier.

Today think about sharing your skills and gifts with those around you. Bring them into your life by opening up and showing them who you really are. You’ll get closer to them, and get to know them more completely. They’ll appreciate your willingness to share and learn to trust you. Build a strong network around you by opening yourself up and letting others in. Your life will be richer, and you’ll feel happier with the friendships you’ll build.

The Illusion of Control

6 Jul

We have very little control in our lives. We can’t often control what happens to us, we can’t control what other people do, we can’t control what we get exposed to, and basically all we can really control is our behavior. That’s it. But sometimes we may get confused, and think we have more control than we actually have. We may think we can control situations, or other people. Many of us have had experiences with people who’ve tried to control us. Maybe we’ve been the one who’s tried to control other people, or outcomes. It rarely works, but it’s a pattern for some of us.

As we go through this life we gain experience. That experience teaches us, and often helps us understand things better. Because of our experience, we may think we really know what is best for someone else. We may think we have the answers to a problem they are experiencing. And maybe we do. But whether we have the answers or not, we cannot make anyone do anything. We may offer suggestions, but their decisions are theirs to make. If we start telling people what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, and we are not in authority over them, we fail. We are not in charge of the human race. The human race gets to do whatever it wants to. And even if that turns out to be something we would never do, even if it hurts others, even if it’s the dumbest thing we’ve ever seen – it’s not ours to control.

It’s hard to watch those around us make decisions that hurt them. It’s hard to see them confused, and lost, especially if we think we know how to make things better. What we can do is offer our support, and make suggestions if they are open to them, but then, we must let them make their own choices. We can’t make anyone do things our way, and if we offer advice and they don’t take it, that is their option. A lot of people think they can tell us how to live our lives, even people who don’t really know about our lives. But the control over our lives belongs to us alone. We get to make all the decisions. And the same is true for those around us. They get to make their own decisions. Let them. We can be there if they need us, but they are entitled to make their own choices.

Today if you’re struggling with control issues – either yours or someone in your life – remember that your life is the only one you get to control, but you get to control all of it. If someone is telling you how things should be, listen and take whatever advice from them that helps you, and let the rest go. If you feel the need to tell someone else what they should do, remember their life is theirs to manage. It doesn’t belong to you. Control is an illusion most of the time. Control yourself, your decisions, your behavior, and your attitude. Let the rest go. It’s a lot easier just to carry your own load. Carry that. Let everyone else carry theirs.

Do you feel the pinch?

2 Jun

Have you ever worn shoes that were just a little too small? Maybe they felt okay at first but as you walked in them they began to pinch? Sometimes we can feel that sort of discomfort in our lives. It’s nothing serious, just a little pinch that something isn’t right. Like a blip on the radar that we can’t identify. We don’t feel exactly settled. Maybe we aren’t sleeping well, and we feel edgy. Something is off. Something is bugging us.

When this happens, it’s a good idea to give it some attention. Think about what we’re feeling. What is going on in our lives? Generally when we feel that little annoyance, there is something just under the surface that we’ve been ignoring. Perhaps it’s something someone said or did we blew off at the time, but has been bothering us ever since. Perhaps it’s a situation we’re involved in that for some reason just doesn’t fit. Perhaps it’s something we need to do that we keep putting off. Or maybe it’s something we did in the past that we need to revisit. Whatever it is, it helps to address it, so we can let it go.

Each day a lot of things happen to us. Sometimes we’re caught off guard by something, and even though we feel like we’ve moved on, sometimes it lingers. It’s there in the back of our minds niggling at us. Poking us to pay attention, making us feel unsettled. If it’s unpleasant, we may try to ignore it. But it remains, reminding us that it’s there. If we want to shake it off, first we have to fix it.

We deserve to get the most out of each day. We deserve to feel confident and settled. If there are things that take that from us, it’s best to change them. Once we determine what’s bothering us, and then do what it takes to let it go, our peace will return. It might be an easy fix, or it might be something that is more complicated. Once we’ve addressed the issue, done what we need to in order to let it go, we will be happier and feel like ourselves once more. We’ll feel relaxed again, and all those rough edges will smooth out.

Today if you’re feeling out of sorts, if you feel an annoying reminder of something that’s bothering you, address it. If it involves someone else, talk to them. If it involves a decision you need to make, decide. Whatever it is, fix it now, and find your center again. Small irritants can become bigger problems if we let them fester. Fix them while they’re small. Today is a great day to clean the closets. Once everything has been tidied up you can shut the door, and move on. Nothing will hold you back.

Learning to Forget

22 May

Many years ago, I had an elderly friend that was always cheerful, and happy. I was fortunate to be able to spend time with her, and talk with her about her life. Once we discussed a difficult time when her husband made some choices that hurt her deeply. I asked her how she coped, and she said, “I distinctly remember forgetting about that,” and she laughed. She said she had forgiven him for his decisions, had forgotten about them, and moved on.

We hear the saying, “Forgive and forget,” frequently. For many of us forgiving someone who has hurt us is possible, but the forgetting can be another story. It’s hard to let go of something that has really caused us pain, and truly forget about it. We learn from it as we go forward, and sometimes we want to hang on to it. We’re not really sure that forgetting is in our best interest. After all, if we forget what they’ve done to us, they might do it again.

Is it possible to truly forgive someone without forgetting what they’ve done? Shouldn’t we remember what happened so we are wiser the next time around? What does it actually mean to forget? Is it possible to completely un-remember something? According to the dictionary, to forget can mean to “disregard intentionally” or to “overlook.” Using those suggestions, we don’t have to pretend what hurt us never happened, but can choose not to focus on it anymore going forward. We can disregard it. We can let it go. We can overlook it. Perhaps this is the most effective use of forgetting when we are trying to forgive.

I am sure my friend from long ago well remembered what her husband had done when he hurt her. But she chose to let it go. She decided not to focus on it, or bring it up again. She moved on. If we can do that when someone offends us, forgive them the affront, and then let it go, we can still learn from the experience. We don’t have to completely wipe it from our minds, but we can move on, and not obsess over it. In that way we will be successful in forgiving, and forgetting.

Today if someone offends you, hurts you, or makes you feel bad, you may choose to forgive them. If you do, forget what happened by letting it go. Look at it, learn from it, determine how you’ll manage it, and move on. Keep moving forward.

Tipping Point

20 May

We go through a lot of experiences in life. We interact with lots of different people, do lots of different things, and process continual changes. We get used to our routines, and we cope with problems as they come up as best we can. Sometimes though, we get into situations that are increasingly difficult, and although we may cope with them for a while, over time they may become unmanageable. Since these situations almost always involve another person, we may dread addressing the problem, so we put it off. We deal. We cope. But eventually we reach the tipping point – the place where things have to change. We can’t do what we’ve been doing any more.

Sometimes that point of no return triggers intense outbursts as we finally say all the things we’ve been holding in. Other times, it triggers isolation. We hide out hoping the situation will just change on its own. That never works, but when what we have to face is painful, we might try it anyway. In the end, we have to look at the problem, and chart a different course, painful or not. There is no other way. When we’ve reached the end of what we can handle, things must change.

These experiences are difficult. If we must end a relationship, someone is going to get hurt. Even if we must only make changes in a relationship, someone may get hurt. The hurt isn’t intentional. It’s just the way it is sometimes when change is necessary. If we’ve waited too long, and get angry, we may say more than we intend to, so it’s best to start the conversation before it goes that far. If we can resolve the issue without anger, the process will be easier.

When we reach these times in our lives, we must be honest, tell the whole story, and put all our cards on the table. We need to say everything respectfully, and clear the air. And then we need to make the best decision for going forward. This process is never easy, but once we’ve said it all, once we’ve told the whole story, once we’ve been completely honest, we will be able to start again. We will be able to relax, regain our footing, and face a different future.

Change is always difficult. Endings are rarely easy. But remember each ending is also the beginning of something new. Once we’ve faced a difficult issue and resolved it, we can start over with confidence. The tension will be gone, and although we may be shaky at first, soon we’ll settle in, and be strong again.

Today if you find yourself at a tipping point, and absolutely must change something, don’t look away. Face it. You can manage this. Keep your head up, keep a smile in your heart even when it hurts, and know that you are in charge of your life. Be brave. You deserve everything you need. Go get it.