You ‘Can’ Let Go

“Anything I cannot transform into something marvelous, I let go.” ~ Anais Nin

Yesterday I wrote about trying different versus trying harder. Sometimes trying a different approach entails letting go; an action many of us have a hard time doing. Here’s a visual: Trying to maintain control in life is a bit like trying to maintain control on a roller coaster. The ride has its own logic and is going to go its own way, regardless of how tightly you grip the bar. There is a thrill and a power in simply surrendering to the ride and feeling the ups and downs of it, letting the curves take you rather than fighting them. When you fight the ride, resisting what’s happening at every turn, your whole being becomes tense and anxiety is your close companion. When you go with the ride, accepting what you cannot control, freedom and joy will inevitably arise.

But it’s not always easy to let go, even of the things we know we cannot control. Yet it’s a fact that we have no control over much of what happens in life. Sometimes this awareness comes only when we have a stark encounter with this fact. But there is a way to develop this awareness in ourselves by simply making surrender a daily practice. By saying, “I surrender to this life” can easily be a mantra and metaphor for gripping the bar on the roller coaster.

How many times have you fought or resisted something, only to lose? We can give in to our fear and anxiety, or we can surrender to this great mystery with courage. When we see people on a roller coaster, we see some with fear on their face and others who are smiling broadly, throwing their hands in the air, filled with freedom and joy. Let this image remind you that the only control you have is choosing how you are going to respond to the ride.

When you next find yourself face-to-face with control, consider these three things:

  1. Are you trying to control something because of what you think will happen if you don’t? In other words, is your need to control rooted in fear?
  2. Ask yourself, “Am I willing to let go of control?” There will be times where your answer may be “no.” And it’s important to honor that if it’s the case for you. Yet the more willing you are to ask and answer this question, the more likely you are to start letting go. You may not know how to do it or what it may look like, but willingness is a first step toward positive change.
  3. Keep in mind that control is a result of being attached to a specific outcome; an outcome you’re sure is best for you – as if you always know what’s best for you. πŸ™‚ When you trust that you’re okay, no matter the circumstances, you don’t need to control everything. When you let go you awaken to new possibilities that aren’t there when you’re attached to the “right” path.

68 thoughts on “You ‘Can’ Let Go

  1. My husband and I were having this discussion today. We may not understand the whisper and its direction, but to trust and obey in those times bring the biggest joys. It is when we try to intervene and create our own outcome do we delay and take away the depths of the joy we would fully receive if we would of let go of control. **The harder the struggle the sweeter the victory. – R.E. Shockley

    • How nice of your to stop by! πŸ™‚ Thank you for reading and commenting, Carol. I concur – listening, trusting and letting go can be beautifully liberating. Meddling often serves only our limited objectives. There is so much more than our relatively narrow views.

  2. This is a great post (as with your last one), and it is strange how in the business world ~ struggling and trying to control a scenario is often looked up by colleagues as “fighting a good battle” where as letting go, and letting answers or a new concept arrive is “taking the easy way out”. I have simplified this greatly, but at the upper-management and executive levels, it is insane how the appearance of working (struggle & control) is important, while letting work flow (giving up control allowing solutions come your way) is threatening. Granted, this tends to only happens with struggling companies, and eventually a downward spiral of efficiency…

    • Exactly, Randall. Though not proudly, I lived and breathed this for years in the corporate world. When I finally accepted my “misalignment,” I gained the clarity and strength to part ways with that life – cold turkey. Being in flow is abundantly more beneficial and authentic. Thank you for sharing your sensible, spot-on views.

    • Thanks, Brad! So my unsolicited challenge to you is to figure out what it would take to make it less hard to live? πŸ™‚ A mindset shift? Greater self-belief? A stronger desire to let go? How would you manifest such change?

  3. I know this life lesson has been about Letting Go for me, as I have had to face and revisit that emotion often… I know I have not conquered it fully, but I can let go now much easier than I did…
    Control was something did too, especially within my position of my old job many years ago,

    Lets say I have learnt many lessons along my path, and no doubt I still have many more waiting to learn…. For it I had completed my mission I would no longer be here! πŸ˜‰

    My biggest lesson was with my mother, who maybe I chose to help me learn the letting go… As it took me a long while in letting go of the hurt…. But through it I grew, so I have much to thank her for…
    Blessings and again another great lesson you have given us to digest.

    • I would think as long as you are becoming aware, learning lessons, and taking action to shift your focus, your being is going to keep being! πŸ™‚ Slow and steady. Good for you, Sue. Thank you for sharing your personal experience.

  4. #2 is huge…and #3, well…it’s something I’m constantly praying for. More trust in God’s awesome plan for my life and making sure I stay out of my own way when it comes to the decisions I make. Trusting that it’s all going to work for my good is written so plainly in Romans 8:28…actually believing that internally and putting it into regular practice is something I need to simply embrace more. Great reminder here, thanks!

  5. Here’s to your simply embracing it more, Brian. πŸ™‚ Faith and trust, when intentionally coupled, is equal parts powerful and beautiful. Thanks for creating time to share your thoughtful comment.

  6. Letting go is very difficult indeed. One other thing that’s hard to let go is a deep hurt. Over the years, I’ve learned to immerse myself in the hurt, allow myself to wallow in it, and then, I have to bid it farewell. I have learned that I either let it go or I let it consume me. And I’m not about to allow the latter. I’ve been more at peace with myself once I learned how to do this.

    • Each of us processes grief and hurt per our own needs and timeline. The key, and to your comment, is we need to move on. Staying with it or refusing to detach is harmful, and unnecessarily protracted. Glad to learn that you have chosen to put on your big girl pants, get on with life, and most importantly – be more at peace with yourself. Kudos!

  7. I love that end photo, Eric. I am definitely one little girl who would blow those little fluffy plants & make a wish – but it turning into birds in that photo, I really like that.

    Letting go, indeed, is so difficult sometimes. Not always, but sometimes with complications.

    • Wasn’t/isn’t that a cool visual transformation?! And yes, not always but sometimes… I hear and agree with you. To your perspective, I am a believer in ‘always onward.’ But that’s just me. πŸ™‚

  8. Great post Eric!!!

    Letting go is the answer to the Buddhist paradox of desire.

    The paradox is that we should rid ourselves of desire but that is, in itself, another desire.

    The only answer is letting go. That way we are not expecting anything for our efforts, and we simply surrender to the ‘rollercoaster’ of life.


    • Ahh, nature! One of those spaces and experiences wherein we so comfortably (and appreciatively) can let go. I suspect the abundance of it in your life and environment yield ample opportunties to see and feel what happens when we allow her to lead. Thanks for your thoughtful share, Allen.

  9. Your words always make sense! Love the quote and illustrations. I know I worry too much and try to plan (control?) too much for tomorrow when I should let go, enjoy the ride and believe I am OK. Thanks for the reminder!

  10. Yes! Letting go is so different from being attached to a specific and predicted outcome. I know several people who have a very difficult time making decisions because they want a guarantee as to outcome before they make the actual decision. This is an easy trap to fall into . . . one that I have definitely fallen victim to. There are times in life when we want some kind of guarantee that is simply not possible to predict. Life is too fluid for this. Which is what makes it so interesting. Love the Anais Nin quote! Let’s opt for something marvelous! πŸ™‚ Great post, Eric. Always appreciate your wise perspective.

  11. Thanks, Eric. This was lovely. I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of “letting go,” recently and it seems to me that one can look at it as giving up or surrendering, or one can think about letting go as a way to open up to something new and exquisite, perhaps surrendering to new possibilities. I’m really enjoying your blog.

    • Beautiful, Donna… “…letting go as a way to open up to something new and exquisite…” Yours is an allowing and accepting perspective. Thank you for highlighting it here! Thanks, too, for your kind comment about the blog.

  12. Only starting in my 50’s have I been able to do this and it is so amazingly liberating! I realized that I can only control myself and how I react to things. Period. I think sometimes my “new” way of being kind of weirds my kids out. They were used to the “control freak” mom that I was for so many years. 😦 I believe they think I have been taken over by alienist and they want to ask, “Who are you and what have you done with my mother??” It’s a good thing!

    • Aren’t our 50’s great. πŸ™‚ Our wisdom, awareness and choices open to entirely new (and appreciated) views and opportunities. And for what your kids may now think, as one of my nephews is fond of saying, “Whatever.” Let them eat cake. πŸ™‚ It is a good thing.

    • Offloading, rightsizing, whatever term one wants to align with the direction you have chosen — it’s a good shift. Congratulations of having realigned with you new ‘lightness’ and simple life. I suspect it’s wonderful. πŸ™‚

  13. I know several other people who really need to read this article. So many things just can’t be controlled; it’s is not within our power to control everything.

    Thank you Eric.

  14. Eric I am glad you shared this one, it is a huge lesson I am learning slowly to just trust in the process and usually I make it unscathed out the other side of whatever is happening. I use to sit and worry and try to plan for such things. But after a few heavy life lessons I am finding it much easier to just go with the flow. Great post Eric, as always there is something to take away.

    • Even if we come out the other side with a scratch or bruise, Kath, we’ve transcended… successfully. There are many people who are slowly learning (and appreciating) this. I like your reference to going with the flow. It’s not only less stressful but it yields amazing (new) perspectives and outcomes. Thank you for your always meaningful thoughts/comments.

  15. Love this. The older I get the more I let the control go as I have come to realize things happen, and sometimes they are beyond our controlling them. It is freeing to let go, take the attitude of “it is what it is” and accept whatever the outcome is.

    • Thank you. And sometimes, it’s a lot of times! Allowing and accepting are both beautiful actions. It is good to learn that we chronologically gifted people are both realizing and appreciating this. πŸ™‚

  16. You say: “Sometimes this awareness comes only when we have a stark encounter with this fact. But there is a way to develop this awareness in ourselves by simply making surrender a daily practice. By saying, β€œI surrender to this life” can easily be a mantra and metaphor for gripping the bar on the roller coaster”…
    I think I have a powerful mantra… Hope this shield protects me!… Excellent post! All my best wishes, Eric… Aquileana πŸ˜€

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