On my journey of creating a deeply fulfilled, spiritually grounded and just plain happy life – and helping others do the same – I’ve noticed a fair amount of confusion about what it means to “let go.” Too often the idea and practice of “letting go” translates into people being passive observers of their lives rather than active creators in the flow of life. They become frustrated because they’re not experiencing the levels of fulfillment and creative self-expression they’re longing for.
And that’s because they’re letting go of their desires rather than letting go of the doubts and fears that inhibit them. They’re letting go of their focus and enthusiasm rather than letting go of their need to rigidly control every step and outcome. They’re letting go of action rather than letting go of tension.
There is a profound difference between letting go of attachment to a specific outcome, and letting go of engagement with your own desires to create and express and experience what you truly want. If you let go of engagement with your own desire, you drift. You’re not in the flow of your life, you’re buffeted about by the eddies and currents of everyone else’s flow. That’s because desire is the core of intention, and intention is the force that creates the shape and direction of your life experience. Intention generates flow.
And the beautiful irony is, when you choose to engage with your own moment-to-moment desire, letting go of attachment to a particular outcome becomes easier because you’re already experiencing what you want to experience: aliveness and movement and flow. And that’s when the best outcomes show up.
Of course you still have goals you want to reach and milestones you’re eager to celebrate. I’m not talking about trying to convince yourself they’re not important. Of course they’re important, because you want to experience them! I’m talking about shifting your orientation so that you’re fully alive and enjoying the process of creating them.
Which means you’ll need to let go of whatever is getting in the way of your enjoyment. Here are a few likely candidates to consider:
- The need to figure out what you’re doing “wrong”
- The belief that you’re a failure if you don’t meet whatever deadline you’ve set for yourself
- The belief that you won’t be okay if you don’t reach your specific goal
- Taking the whole thing way, way too seriously
- Criticizing yourself
- Doubting yourself
- Blaming others for not being supportive
- Blaming yourself for not being perfect
- Grinding your teeth (I added that for humor, but really, you should let it go, you’ll feel better)
Sometimes I’m aware that I’m in my own way and need to let go of something to create greater ease and flow and enjoyment, but I just don’t know what to let go of. I go through my checklist and convince myself I’ve let go of everything I can, yet there I am, still stuck and frustrated. So I go back to the first item on the list and let go of the need to figure it out.
Then I shift gears, and rather than asking what I can let go of, I ask how I can love myself more. How I can trust my heart of hearts more. How I can support and strengthen my desires more. I ask myself how I want to feel, and then I ask how I might begin to cultivate that feeling, right now.
And let me tell you, it works like a charm. Try it.
You’ll find that when you consciously listen to and honor and love and respect yourself, you start moving forward again. (Or you pause to rest, because that’s what you really need.) When you get curious about how to support your desires, you feel supported. When you focus on how you want to feel, you start to feel better.
Whatever was holding you back starts to lose its hold on you.
Almost as if you had just let it go.