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Are You Ready to Make a Change in Your Life?

Try letting go of holding on

Why are you so stuck?

Are you ready to make a change in your life? Think for a minute about parts of your life where you feel like you can’t get traction. Maybe you’re feeling stuck at work and find yourself dreaming about resigning and moving on to something new. Perhaps you have important relationships that just aren’t working out. You don’t know how to mend them and you’re too afraid to leave. You can’t tell if you even want to leave. Whether it’s work or personal, you know you’re in trouble when you’re walking on eggshells out of fear of what you might say if just for a minute, you stop being careful and tell yourself the truth. You are well and truly stuck and way past tired of denying it.

Some of us just give up and leave. . .

Getting clear on why you stay with things or people that take more from you than they give is tricky. I think the easiest thing for many of us to do when we’re unhappy is just give up and leave. Remember this. . . wherever you go, there you are. Your baggage travels with you. Another possibility is to dig into how you’re contributing to whatever mess you’re in. In the end, you may still decide to move on. It will be a different kind of leave-taking though. Doing the work of looking at your part helps you move forward a step at a time.

Some of us just stay. . .

I’m not saying it’s easy. There are also many of us who are unhappy who just stay. Even when what we are living or working with is sucking the soul right out of us, we stay. People stay for many different reasons. We don’t want to be a quitter or are afraid that if we leave, life will be worse than what it is right now. You know that old saying. . . “the devil you know is better than the one you don’t know”. We think that if we just keep trying harder and hang in there, something miraculous will happen and our work or our relationships will improve. We never get around to asking ourselves. . . Are you ready to make a change in your life?

We also hold on to old “stuff”. . .

  • Regret over decisions that did not turn out well
  • Shame from mistakes we made
  • Hurt from betrayal by someone we trusted
  • Resentment because we think we deserved more or something better than what we got
  • Or some combination of all these things

Last fall while cleaning up my garden, I was reflecting on some of my own old “stuff”. As usual, the committee of voices that live in my head had conflicting ideas about my situation. Digging through the dirt, a new committee voice spoke up and asked. . . Are you ready to make a change in your life? What would it be like for you if you just let this old “stuff” go? Just released the sense of regret, the feeling of shame, the hurt of betrayal and the resentment of not getting what you wanted or of getting what you did not want (or think you deserved) . . .

I held my shovel and considered it. Having tried everything else I could think of, I then took a deep breath and let that old “stuff” go. That was months ago. I wonder now why it took me so long to see that letting go of the hurt I was holding on to was possible.

Sometimes you just have to let everything burn down. . .

Letting go of holding on may free you up. It may also scare you half to death. Sometimes, feeling scared can be a good thing. As long as we stick with the safety of what we know, we’re unlikely to break away and commit to changing. Feeling scared can be the start of a growth cycle and lead to examining just what we’re holding on to and why.

Years ago, a friend told me this story of something his son told him. . . “You’re the kind of guy who, when the world is burning down around him, just sits there and takes it all in. And then, when everything you know has been reduced to ashes, you pick yourself up and say. . . Well — I guess it’s time for me to make a move.” Sometimes, my friend told me. . . you just have to let everything burn down.

“The future is created by what we do right now. . .”*

Like the mythical bird, the Pheonix, out of the ashes of what’s burned down we can make a new beginning. With every choice we make, with every new thing that we try, we have the opportunity to create a future that holds hope, happiness and new possibilities.

Think. . . Are you ready to make a change in your life? What might you choose to let go of that’s holding you back from that bright future? Take a deep breath and let it go.

* From the work of Pema Chodron

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