Journey to Faith

Journey to Faith
Follow your own path

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Ignite the Power Within Step 3: 7 Keys to Letting Go

We've all heard the expression "Let go and let God", right? I assumed everyone understood what this means until I posted this photo on Facebook and a friend came back with the question "How do you do that?" She made me think. Maybe this concept isn't clear to everyone. After all not everyone has gone through a 12-step program which is where the phrase originated. I talk about letting go in my book, "The Power of Faith", so this might be a good time to delve into the concept for my online friends.  It wouldn't hurt for me to revisit this phrase either so here's my best shot at explaining what "Let go and let God" means and how to put it into action in your life.

1. First step is to realize that letting go is a process.
We learn to let go. It doesn't come naturally. We develop the ability to let go gradually as we experience loss, grief, and pain in our lives such as when a loved one dies or leaves home, a beloved pet dies, or when a relationship ends. Letting go is an ongoing process because we are constantly in a state of change.

2.  Another term related to letting go is "detachment" which means separating ourselves from another person. 
In recovery terms, detachment means emotionally disconnecting from the abusive, destructive or unhealthy behavior of another person for our own well-being.

It does not mean we stop loving or caring about the other person but we no longer allow their behaviors to steal our peace and joy. Some extreme examples would be living with an alcoholic, an addict, a gambler, or someone with a debilitating disease such as Alzheimer's. Sometimes, we have to detach from friends who, for whatever reason, are unable to participate fully in a healthy relationship. It takes two people to make any relationship work.

When we detach, we find more time and energy to love and take care of  ourselves and we allow the other person the dignity of dealing with their own issues.

3. Letting go has to do with responsibility. Sometimes we take on responsibility for problems we do not own. For example, a parent taking financial responsibility for an adult child. A mother not allowing her children to suffer the consequences of their actions. A spouse covering for an addictive trait of the other such as overspending, drinking, gambling, not showing up for work etc. Codependency causes people to take on others' responsibilities to the detriment of their own physical and financial well-being.

4. Letting go is the opposite of controlling. People who are overly responsible are often codependent and usually have control issues. Codependents think they are taking care of others, but in reality, it is a form of control based on fear. Most people have control issues to some degree, but fearful people are on the extreme end of the spectrum.  If  someone you know is controlling, one question to ask them is: "What are you afraid of here?" This will help bring to light the irrational fear they may be struggling with.

No one wants to be controlled.  We are responsible for managing our own lives, but not the lives of those around us. When we let go of control, we allow the other person the freedom and the dignity to make their own choices and experience the results of those choices.

5. Letting go applies to every area of our lives.
Many people hold on to stuff for years and years for emotional reasons. I once dated a guy who had an entire office filled with old newspapers he'd never read. His garage was packed with stuff his kids used when they were little. These people have a hard time "letting go" of stuff. They've even made a TV show out of this behavior called "Hoarders". If you have a hard time parting with material things, your house is cluttered, and your garage is overflowing, you may want to examine your reasons for holding on to all of that. Does it make you feel loved? Secure? Are you holding on to the past? Think of cleaning house as an opportunity to practice letting go.

6.  Surrender to God's will.
When we learn to let go in our lives, we are basically saying "Thy will be done" or "Que sera sera". We no longer insist on our agendas, our plans, and our timeframes. We are more flexible and resilient when the unexpected happens. We feel more peace and tranquility because we have let go of the need to control the outcome of events. We really can't control very much in life. We can't control the stock market, our relatives, our kids, or what happens in the world so we might as well accept life as it is and enjoy it the best we can.

7. Evaluate my priorities.
There are only 24 hours in every day and we only have so many days to live. How will I choose to live them and with whom? I reexamine my priorities several times a year. I make a conscious choice on where, how, and with whom I want to spend my time. I have learned that in order to add something or someone new to my life, I must let go of something or someone else or I will be out of balance. When we let go of  an unhealthy relationship,  we are open to receive a healthier one in its place. When we let go of anxiety and worry, we make room for peace and joy. When we let go of activity, we make room for relaxation and self-care. It's all a matter of evaluating what is important to us now.

If we want to have more peace and joy and less stress in our lives, learning to let go is one of life's most important lessons.  I have a post- it note on which is written a quote from Oprah Winfrey that says: "All stress comes from resisting what is". And I think she is right on.

So what have you let go of that made a difference in your life? What do you need to let go of today that could bring you more peace?

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Stay tuned for more on this valuable life skill and

Until next time, keep looking up!