Letting Go to Look Ahead

Letting Go to Look Ahead

“There are far better things ahead than any we may leave behind.” ~C.S. Lewis

Rose told Jack that she would never let go of his hand in Titanic, Randall loosens his glove to keep Fisher from having to hold on to him in The Guardian, and Tyler Durden brings home a most difficult idea of letting go in Fight Club — Stop trying to control everything and let go. LET GO!  Letting go is one of the most difficult things for most of us to do, but if we heed the words of C.S. Lewis, we might find it an exciting option to look ahead instead of always looking behind.

It’s been just over a year since I cut my hair. The first cut was a little over 10 inches. My trusted stylist, Mallory, and I talked about it for quite a while before we agreed on the plan. I was so nervous to let go of so much hair — it had become a safety net for me of sorts. Our conversation reminded me of how important it is that we each let go of things that might hold us back from wonderful new experiences. Yes, it was just hair, but it was a big part of my identity. It made me think, though, of what else has been part of my identity that I’ve been afraid to let go.

There are many reasons we hang on to things, but fear seems to be one of the most popular.

Fear drives so many of our choices. It is both a weapon and a gift. Fear is the weapon used by abusers to keep victims quiet. Fear is a gift when we are in a dangerous situation and need to run. But there are times that fear simply exists, creating terror in the gut of a person who might otherwise move forward from a situation that isn’t horrible but could be so much better, as my fear of cutting my hair.

When have you needed to let go of something so you could move forward?

Maybe you could have let go of a favorite car that ended up being broken down more than it ran.
Have you hung on to clothes that you thought you might wear ‘someday’ but are still two sizes too small or too large?
Maybe you’ve been afraid to let go of your beliefs about another person, and if you did so, you could open yourself up to a more fulfilling life.
Are you hanging on to a person — the one you seek to control, or perhaps, the one who seeks to control you?

What are you afraid of losing if you let go? Often, we are afraid of losing control, yet it is the loss of control that actually can free us. Think about it. When you grip the steering wheel too tightly, driving is more difficult than if you let go a little and let the wheel move freely in your hands. What would be better if you let go of your need to control?

  • Let go of anger and enjoy the ride in the car. You’ll arrive at the same time and a much more pleasant person. Trying to control the flow of traffic or the attention of other drivers rarely works well.
  • Let go of past relationships. It was ten years ago. That person decided they didn’t want to spend their time with you anymore. Trying to control people and relationships by keeping their names in your conversations and in your thoughts might make you feel like there’s a chance for fixing things, but you are the only one who really knows about it.
  • Let go of failure. You messed up. You lost your job, were arrested, or got caught doing something you wish you hadn’t. Holding on to failures is not healthy because guess what? You can’t control the past. You can only control the choices YOU make for today and in the future.
  • Let go of loss. My daddy died 23 years ago. I still think about how that felt — losing him, watching him suffer — but I have moved forward with my life. I can’t control the fact that he died. I can only control how I allow a loss to motivate me to be a more thoughtful, more aware, and engaged person with those around me. Do you really want to be so caught up in what and who you’ve lost that you miss out on what and who is still here?

One day, Lewis’ words took hold in my head, and I’ve let go of a lot. You might not see it, but I can feel it. It’s so good to let go of ideas that haven’t served me, of relationships and responsibilities that have hurt me. Someone else is available to fill my spot and your spot.

What are you afraid of? What in the past are you tethered to so tightly? Detaching from what lies behind doesn’t always mean severing ties, simply giving yourself permission and freedom to see what’s ahead. There are far better things ahead, but how will you know if you haven’t let go of the past?

 

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