Does this sound like a circular reference to you? It is not if you let me explain how it makes sense to “Let Go of Letting Go”…
So many self-improvement, positive thinking, psychology, and other books today talk about how important they feel it is to “let go” of things that hinder our lives: past experiences, toxic relationships, negative people, poor choices, mistakes we have made.
Typically, the experts support a three-step letting go process along the lines of
- Identify what you need to let go of;
- Do some sort of “root cause analysis” (in the hope of avoiding it in the future); and
- “Burn” (either figuratively or literally) the issue to let it go from your past and present.
I do not know about you, but I find that this process is good in theory — but does not work in practice! When I focus on that which I need to let go, it exacerbates the issue at hand (akin to rubbing sand in a wound) and does not get rid of it. I am finding that the best way to really let go of something is to let it flow – in other words ride the waves of emotion and let go of the need to formally let it go. Somehow the process of letting things flow (i.e., letting the waves roll over my subconscious and not giving them focus or concentration) seems to dissipate their strength – and the next time the same wave comes (it does not magically go away) its amplitude (size) is less. Before long, I know the wave will be a mere ripple. By letting things flow instead of forcing the memory out (letting go), I also feel more open to the possibility of new better memories.
A quote that feels right for me is
The past is our definition. We may strive, with good reason to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it, but we will escape it only by adding something better to it. – Wendell Berry
Wow! To me, this means that when we try to let go of something or run from a bad memory, we can’t really escape it. Instead, when we add to our collective past with a positive memory, we escape what was there before. The quote seems to give credence to my “Let go of letting go” plus introduces the idea of adding on something better.
In my engineering, analogy thinking mind, it reminds me of a Lego house with eroding pieces…
instead of deliberately removing damaged pieces and leaving holes in the structure, I choose to allow new pieces to come in and thus, remove the old ones as a matter of course. My life is like the Lego house.
This is a conscious choice – rather than trying to escape the past through concentrating on letting go, new positive experiences can replace the painful memories.
As distance grows from the past, my new, positive experiences today replace (and add on to) my history. Good memories enhance and build up on past good memories, and painful ones can be replaced with new adventures. This gives me hope!
In terms of relationships, now that I experience self-love, it adds on positively and I can escape the bad memories of love in the past. When my financial independence comes about with new employment and opportunities, my memory of the pain of financial troubles will ebb. As I meet and engage with new positive people, I can escape the memories of toxic friendships of the past.
Let go of letting go – let flow…
Have a great week!