Friday, May 13, 2011
Letting go. . .of the shoulds and the coulds and everything else that doesn't serve
Why is it that the whole concept of "letting go" is so very challenging for so many? There are infinite things to let go of, infinite ways to do it, and the commonality between them all seems to be the difficulty that most of us have in actually achieving the sweet release we are seeking. Letting go is so hard because it is a battle between our higher self and our ego, and the ego, like it or not, is strong. Not only strong, the ego is fiercely determined, fantastically convincing and can paint very enticing pictures in our minds that make us want to cling for dear life to the very things we would be best served to let go of. So what to do?
For most all of us, we have at least one successful experience we can draw from where we have sublimated the ego and let go of something/someone that we no longer needed. I would venture that, ultimately, it felt amazingly good once the pain was out of the way and releasing was done. If we can adopt into our consciousness a reminder of those wonderful, uplifting, enlivening emotions we experienced in the wake of letting go, that would serve as the perfect motivation to repeat the process of releasing, don't you think? In theory, sure, this sounds perfect and easy enough. But I know from my own practice, as I'm sure you do from yours, what seems simple very often isn't. That is certainly the case where letting go of the things our ego holds dear is concerned.
This just came up for me the other day when I came across some photos of my ex, A. and I. I was entirely pleased to find that seeing these pictures didn't provoke me at all, which is to say, I felt no extremes of emotions toward him or our history in either direction. Whereas at times in the past I might have alternately felt strong love, resentment, sadness, or longing, I was completely neutral. Yay for me! Cheers! I'm really over him! It was gratifying to be sure, but then it also made me think: I've been through a far bigger heartbreak after the end of my marriage to C. and have long since made it through the process of "becoming neutral" where he is concerned. I can look at our old wedding pictures fondly, chat on the phone to him without feeling any resentment or desire or anything polarized. Heck, we're even kinda sorta going to the wedding of mutual friends together next month. So if I already successfully let go in the context of our relationship's end, why then did I have to go through all the pain and suffering I experienced as A. and I had ours?
At first this whole dynamic seemed like a conundrum, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was me being true to form. I have always been one to "learn the hard way" and require ample experience with something, proof if you will, before I buy into it. I thought growing into my consciousness and intuition more as I've gotten older and delved further into spirituality had lessened this, but my ego still persists. It still puts up a formidable fight, though appears to be more discerning in which battles to pursue. It knows where my higher self has already succeeded in changing my perspective, attitudes and actions, but it definitely still shows itself in the ways that it can, whenever it can. So it was here. But all this feels like little consolation when at the end of the day, I experienced pain, I suffered over a situation that I thought i'd already mastered the art of letting go in.
Obviously every relationship, and every love, is unique, powerful and meaningful in its own way. Accordingly, the end of any relationship or love as we know it entails an adjustment and often some pain and difficulty. I'm not saying that having healed from heartbreak once I would expect to become immune to its symptoms in the future. Rather, what really frustrated me was that, in hindsight, I saw how I had so strongly identified with and attached myself to those symptoms the second time around, even knowing from previous experience how good it would feel to distance myself from them and let them go. Granted, I did process the break from A. much more quickly and with much less "wear and tear" to myself, but there was plenty of pain even still. In a sense it made me feel like all the hard work and effort I put into processing, healing and growing through the end of my marriage hadn't fully paid off because I just suffered again through the next heartbreak. And then I extrapolated from this single example that I would likely be banging my head against a proverbial wall in goodness knows how many other scenarios! Madness!
I know that is an extreme statement, and I know that I, like many, just need to have multiple attempts at learning certain life lessons before they really take hold. As I've written, and as I've lived through the experiences I write about, I've always placed great emphasis on my belief that there is so much value and so much to be learned through that which presents a challenge and provokes pain and suffering. So if I've felt those things, even in the face of a situation I thought I already "triumphed" over, it simply means that yes, my ego is still around, and yes, I still have more to experience in order to continue learning how to let go. Reminding myself of how sweet that release feels is an excellent way to stay on track, but ultimately, that still equates to focusing on something from the past when what I will always be best served to do is stay as connected to the present as possible. Therein lies what I suspect is the real key to honing the craft of letting go. Since, for me, this is still very much a work in progress, we'll just have to allow time to tell if my supposition proves true.
Posted by Just Jess