Picture this- my eight year old, staring me down, fists clenched tightly against her chest, holding onto the coveted object of choice, something that is either not hers or that she can no longer have. Challenge, accepted. Players, draw your weapons! Attempting to engage me in a battle of wills (as opposed to wits, which fortunately I still win, usually) she is asserting at least one of the following: she WANTS IT, it’s NOT FAIR, or BUT it’s MINE! What do I want for her to do? To release. To relinquish. To understand and accept the situation. Let it go. Like a hot potato – girl- d.r.o.p. it.
We can talk about how to get out these parenting moments later; I occasionally reach baller status on handling that shit and I have some tips to share. But for now, let’s focus on how this applies to adult life because let’s face it, we have all been the stubborn child.
As an example, many, many, many times, I have wanted something so much, so strongly, that I absolutely refused to alter my plans, perceptions and assumptions about it; insisting that a) I was right, b) the universe was wrong, and c) I was GOING to get my way, dammit. Even if it meant more problems later. Even it slowed progress. And even if I actually admitted to myself that I couldn’t have it. I stood there, heels dug into the ground, hands tightly clenched around my expectation that the something that I so very much wanted to be true, or mine, or to happen, was still going to be a reality.
Think this isn’t you? Newsflash, you’re swimming up the river of De’ Nile, baby. Try to remember a time (like, say…. yesterday, perhaps?) that you things did not go your way, and you weren’t happy about it. What did you do? How did you react? In the end, was it really something you had control over anyway? Probably not, and therein lies the problem. We have very little control over what happens TO us but we have 100% control over how we respond to it. Learning to recognize and respond appropriately makes all the difference.
This is the hard part. And the good part. Discovering the magic that lies in the combination of what you wanted, what is happening, and where you are is how we begin to live mindfully and learn to well, CTFD.
For me, hands down, no question, no contest, learning to let go is my greatest life lesson. From trying to plan and prepare for every possible scenario to being able to just chill, I have had a difficult time just letting things be. I’m a planner, after all, I like to get my way and I’m possibly not so naturally skilled at the whole patience thing. Friends of mine “joke” that I only have one speed- “GO.” I’d like to add a word then, and make it let go.
However, learning to let the universe provide without my resistance (or attempts to hurry it along) has been a challenge. It’s like this- I see a situation or opportunity and evaluate the pros and cons to determine whether it’s worth the risk. Sometimes, it’s an easy, logical choice, even if it was entirely unexpected. On occasion, however, my gut tells me to drop it, it’s no bueno para mi. But I realllllllyyyy want it, now. Briefly, my inner voice kicks in and says “If you play with fire you’re going to get burned.” Sometimes, okay, lots of times, I choose to ignore my gut. Or, I just tell it who’s boss, stating- “well, not if I wear oven mitts” and I make a plan and proceed to play with the fire anyway. Risks understood. Benefits listed. Outcome- GO. Guess what? I still get burned. Duh.
That’s the bad news. Here’s the good news- I’m learning! Especially over this last year, the more I have practiced letting go, the more good has come. It’s remarkable, actually. Really, truly remarkable. When I dropped my expectations, let down my guard, stopped trying to schedule and plan every little detail, and stopped over thinking every single thing I was hit with so much fabulousness it was a like a glitter bomb went off in my brain. I think I might have actually been shining with happiness.
Upon reflection, and when I read back through my journals (and if you’re not doing this now- DO IT!) I can see very clearly that every time I have have allowed myself to open up, without hesitation, without expectation, without assumption, and I just simply gave good to the world, I reaped it back in hundredfold. When I embraced life with open arms, when I was prepared to receive just about anything, I was given everything.
On the contrary, when I only saw things as I wished for them to be, when I focused only on those things that were part of my plans and expectations, I missed out, and on a whole lot. When I held onto things too tightly, like Lenny in Of Mice And Men, I squeezed so hard I choked the life right out them. This is the getting burned part; this was me, dropping it like I’m hot (as in, in charge, in control, RIGHT), instead of like it’s hot (as in an amazing, or painful, opportunity for me).
So, how do I avoid burn marks? I listen to the universe. I pay attention, I practice living mindfully. I recognize the difference between an opportunity when I can bring it, and an event that sounds good, looks good but isn’t right for me, and pass. I can choose to see the fire, add the right tender, or walk away.
I have several examples of this to share later. They are meant both as inspiration and as a reminder to myself because you know, I don’t like to make the same mistake twice. I prefer doing it at least five or six times, just to make absolutely certain I was wrong. But for now, I’ll simply leave you with a quote that resonated with me and serves as a quick reminder when I hit panic mode.
“Whatever comes, let it come. What stays, let it stay. What goes, let it go.”
Easy enough, right?
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