The ultimate act of courage is to let go. We hold so tightly to what we know, to how we think, to our identity, that we end up crowding out the grace of new beginnings and possibilities. This robs us of the full experience of “what is”. We can end up living in the past, in memory and recollection versus in the living moment, unable to be receptive to what is seeking to be born within us. We constrict the vital movement of emotions and of life force in an attempt to be “sure” or to be “safe.”
You can practice the courage to let go by looking at the material things in your life first. Marie Kondo, in her best-selling book The Magic Art of Tidying Up, recommends handling every object you own and answering the question, “Does this bring me joy in the present moment?” To keep a possession, the answer must be a clear “yes”. It counts as a no if you answer, “It used to bring me joy” or, “It might bring me joy tomorrow”. In this way, you come to surround yourself only with objects – clothes, books, furniture, etc. – that bring you joy. My wife got me to do this with my clothes. It was amazing to discover how few clothing items I actually reach for on a regular basis. It is now much easier to see what might be missing from my wardrobe, and it is quite frankly a daily pleasure to go into my closet.
Next, take a look at less tangible things that may be weighing you down. What old patterns of thinking and acting are you ready to let go of? Make a list of all the adjectives and labels that you describe yourself with, and all the habits that you regularly engage in. Of these, which no longer serve you? Which could you let go of in order to open to greater spaciousness and sense of possibility in your life? Pick just one or two to start with. Sometimes it is easier to let go of something that no longer serves if you can simultaneously replace it with a new thought or habit. If you no longer want to claim yourself as “physically unfit”, what exercise activity can you insert into your life immediately? You don’t have to sign up for a gym or expensive trainer to get started. How about parking your car farther away from the store or office building, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or, better yet, finding some lunchtime walking partners?
At other times, the courage to let go may mean recognizing the need for change without having a clear solution in mind. It might take days, weeks, even months of compassionate contemplation until one day a clear next step shows itself, fully formed. That is the time to move, boldly and gracefully, within the ever-changing flow of life. Trust that what you seek is also seeking you. Turn your eye to each new day, each fresh start with gratitude for what has come before. And then, be bold and take the leap!
By Robert E. Staub