It took me a long time to accept that we never really know what’s coming in life. I have MUCH more peace just focusing on what is & LETTING GO of what may come. Easier said than done right?
For all my life, the idea of not knowing what is going to happen next created such anxiety. In my head, I knew that I couldn’t control the outcome of events…I just didn’t act as though I knew it. Maybe I didn’t want to believe it.
Now I look at my need-to-know & desire-to-control-what’s-coming-next like a walk through misty woods.
I ALWAYS WANT TO KNOW WHAT IS COMING NEXT. BUT I RARELY DO.
Sometimes the mist is heavy & sometimes light. Sometimes it hides the obstacle in front of me. Sometimes I lose my way & sometimes I see clearly.
I can try to anticipate what is coming, maybe by going off the beaten path. Maybe by running faster to anxiously see what is over the next hill. But usually, that results in me tripping over something else or getting lost entirely. I trip and get lost a lot, especially when I’m rushing.
But when I PATIENTLY stand still…when I simply let be what is, I create a space for all of my actions, reactions, interpretations, and feelings.
When I brave letting go
- I don’t avoid by rushing (yes, rushing around is a way to avoid what we feel).
- I allow vulnerability.
- I accept that uncertainty is the heritage of all human beings.
- I can accept all that is with more peace.
Acceptance begins by asking ourselves – can we start to give away all that stuff we keep a death-grip on?
Clinging to something that we really don’t have that much power over is DIS-empowering. We’re putting our energy/power into something we can’t affect.
The empowering option is to compassionately & slowly consider our need to control those things (or know what’s coming) & ask it some questions:
Questions For My Need To Control
- How many times has my “control” or worry produced the effect I wanted?
- What kind of effect is this having on my relationships?
- How many times have I looked back & realized all that worry or attempts to control didn’t change an outcome?
- How is this strategy making me feel about myself?
- Is this how I want to keep feeling in life?
A moment of questioning gives us an opportunity to discover why we want control in the first place.
Personal moment of letting go
(& exposing my odd affection for gophers)
My personal challenge is letting go of what I believe will keep me safe & that involves some kind of belonging.
I have a lot of triggers around loss, abandonment & belonging. Whenever I meet one of them, my brain’s first response is to anxiously figure out a solution to the thought I’m having so I don’t have to feel the sadness it’s bringing up.
This ultimately makes me more anxious & angry.
It’s like I’m telling my brain that sadness is dangerous: “Oh no. You can’t let this sad feeling in. You’ll never get out of it if you let yourself feel it. You are so weak. Why can’t you control yourself?…” & a whole bunch of other lies (that probably sound familiar to you too).
But, when I patiently/bravely let myself feel a little sad, I’m able to soothe the pain and not get anxious. It’s not so scary. I can handle being a little sad right?
By accepting the discomforts I meet on the path of life, I slow things down enough to choose how I want to respond to them.
That results in me feeling far less anger or fear.
Yes. It is scary. We’re certain if we stopped doing, being and “controlling” everything, our lives would fall apart. We want to hold onto all of our “controlling” strategies because we’ve convinced ourselves those strategies work.
But let’s think about that. Do they?
How good do you feel trying to affect every outcome or micro-manage the events in your life or the lives of others? Do you feel happier or safer?
Aside from that, what if a change really is necessary?
Even then, allowing the undesirable circumstance to “be” what it is, is NOT the same as enduring it or suffering its existence.
Acceptance doesn’t mean the lack of change.
You can still change the things you want to change in your life. You can still set goals to achieve & change your results if you want to.
But until you get the change you want, you can also opt to let your current less-than-desirable experience simply Belong instead of resisting or getting angry at where you are now or trying to “know” what’s going to happen next.
But if I accept “what is” doesn’t that mean I won’t get past this?
We think that accepting our circumstance will disincentivize us to try to change it, but I ask myself, is beating myself and my energies into the ground inspiring me? Changing involves some pain and discomfort, but we can’t suffer or beat ourselves into change.
Shame & blame makes moving forward more difficult, take longer & usually ends up in the change not sticking or being sustainable.
Two Types of Motivation
There are two kinds of motivation: moving toward something & away from something. Our brains prefer to move toward something.
Moving Away: Shaming ourselves is a moving-away motivation: When you say, “I shouldn’t do that.” the incentive is to move away from something.
Moving Toward: When you say, “I prefer to do this.” the incentive is to move toward something. That shift in your focus is just the type of motivation that moves us forward & motivates your brain into action for longer periods of time.
Resisting or judging ourselves for our circumstances results in those feelings hanging on tighter or yelling louder to get our attention. It’s an overused statement, but the truth is: What we resist, persists.
Here’s a little example of what our brains hear when we operate out of acceptance versus when we operate out of resistance:
Take it to the Trees:
I didn’t know him long, but my father taught me how to have patience by communicating with nature. When we were in the woods, he taught me to stop and listen so I could hear what I couldn’t hear before. Stop and look so I could see what I couldn’t see before.
I still learn from those moments.
When I want to speed through life or get ahead or get even, I stop and listen. I create space for wonder; about myself, my responses, my surroundings. I CAN SEE AND HEAR AGAIN. Wiser words and wiser choices become available. I’ve tapped into the patience of accepting.
THE MORE WE EXPAND OUR VISION, THE MORE WE CONNECT WITH OUR ABILITIES. We place vast limits on our intellect when we control, endure, rush and resist.
Facing The Fear of Letting Go
We associate letting go of the need to know with fear, yet we never ‘knew’ anything for certain in the first place.
We think resisting what is or controlling what is to come (which we aren’t) keeps us from being harmed but it’s actually keeping us from being free.
We think of patience as a burden, yet it frees us from our burden. It is a virtue. Not in moralistic terms, but rather in a practical way. Patience is the ADVANTAGE we give ourselves of just noticing – without judgment – & being right where we are.
Patience lights the path in front of us. Every time we practise letting go, we put down a heavy burden. “Good” & “Bad” become neutralized.
Layer by layer, I keep taking off my need to know and step more slowly.
AS I SLOW DOWN, I SEE THE PATH IS GETTING CLEARER.
THE IDEA OF MY ONE RIGHT WAY IS BEGINNING TO DISSOLVE INTO THE MIST.