This past weekend, I took a trip to Mt. Tamalpais outside of San Francisco. It was a much-needed break from the routine of life (and all the pressure of getting done), and it gave me pause. Something I don’t do very well, that I’m still grappling with in my life, is learning to let go.
Standing under a giant redwood, you realize how small you are. How wondrous the world around you is. You notice that every little part of a forest is important. Everything has a place. But you also notice that the forest changes, even in tiny ways, thanks to outside forces like rain and sun and cold and wind and even people.
We are shaped by external forces, too.
How are our own external forces shaping us? We hold onto old hurts, grievances, and even our own sense of what “should” be happening, what our lives “should” look like. Hurts and disappointments can influence our actions, our outlook – make us change, make us stronger, make our lives more beautiful and meaningful. They make us into what we otherwise would not become.
Spring is a good time to evaluate what you are carrying around, and what you can release. Like your closet, cleaning out your psyche is necessary to make sure it doesn’t get overwhelmed or neglected, with crap piling up in unseen corners. It’s time to take out the Swiffer and Clorox. You might hate cleaning, but you don’t want to become a hoarder.
Think about what is holding you back from what you want. I like to ask myself the big questions, so I can flinch a little.
Is it fear of the unknown, or fear of failure? Are you afraid of being alone? Or are you afraid of falling in love again? We are all scared of what we can’t see in front of us.
The bigger question is, what are you going to do in spite of your fear?
I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been asking myself the same question. I have a creative project that I’ve been working on that I want to see move forward, but there are no guarantees in life. There’s nobody who can promise me all that effort will lead to a definite result. Which is why I have to let go of the result. It’s not up to me to control what happens – the part I controlled, the creative part, is done. Now, I must let it go.
That’s really hard.
So I get it. You have worked for something, or you have struggled with love or career or a relationship or a lack of relationship for so long, it gets tougher to let go of the expectations you have about how your life should flow. We want to be right!! But I’m constantly reminded: I am not in control of results, I’m only in control of what I choose to do. I’m in control of my own actions, outlook, and cultivating a sense of adventure no matter the craziness that parades in front of me.
We must let go of these expectations that our lives should look a certain way, that we must be in a relationship, that we should have an amazing career or perfect children.
This is not practical and doesn’t serve us. Let’s take a look at how those expectations have affected our relationships, our actions, our very selves. Nobody needs to carry around that disappointment or disillusionment.
Yesterday, an artist friend of mine reminded me that life is about creativity. We are constantly writing our own stories, which is a good thing. Where we get stuck is when we stop writing these stories, when we decide that nothing can change, that we are in essence “stuck.”
Which brings me back to the spring cleaning idea. Where are you getting stuck in your thoughts and expectations? What can you let go of today that will release you from those expectations? How can you best move forward?