17 August 2011

Letting Go

One of the most difficult lessons that I continue to struggle with in life is that of letting go.  There are so many situations in my life that are completely out of my control, yet I somehow feel that I should be able to make them turn out well just with a little bit of effort or with intervention on my part.  This is usually just wrong, though–such situations will take care of themselves much more easily and effectively when I’m able simply to let go of my need to try to make things happen the way that I think they should, and allow them to happen in their natural ways.

Usually when I have trouble letting go it’s because I want to help someone else.  Perhaps they come to me for advice, and I start to think that I somehow can solve their problems for them.  And when I give someone advice, I feel that it’s important that they actually put my advice into practice so that their problems will go away.

The wisest people in the world, though–the truly wise, not those people who claim to be wise–have always said that the best thing to do if we want to help others is to stand back and allow them to live their lives.  Yes, we can give them advice, but then it’s important to leave them be with that advice and allow them to do with it whatever they will.  Perhaps they’ll heed it, and that will be good.  Perhaps they’ll ignore it completely, and that will be good, too.  Either path may not lead to the best of results, but both paths allow them to take actions, see results, and learn from experience.

There are billions of people living their lives right now who have no idea that I exist, much less that I might have advice for them.  And I’m fine with that.  When we get close to people, though, we tend to think that our level of influence and control over their lives grows, but if we want to respect them and allow them to be who they are, we’ll let go of any semblance of what we believe to be control that we can.  Let’s let people live their lives with our input, but without our expectations of what they should do and when they should do it.  That way we can allow them to be free to live their own lives their own way, and we can lose the stress and tension that come from trying to control the lives of others, or even our own lives.  Let go, and let things be–two great pieces of advice that can lead to more happiness and fulfillment in our lives.

Letting go doesn’t mean we don’t care.  Letting go doesn’t
mean we shut down.  Letting go means we stop trying
to force outcomes and make people behave.  It means
we give up resistance to the way things are, for the
moment.  It means we stop trying to do the impossible–
controlling that which we cannot–and instead, focus on
what is possible–which usually means taking care of
ourselves.  And we do this in gentleness, kindness,
and love, as much as possible.

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