Just Let Go

(Excerpt from my soon-to-be-published book, Just One Step: The Journey to Your Unstoppable You)

We’re all carrying things that don’t serve us, at least not in a healthy way. Perhaps it’s a belief about yourself, your worthiness or your enoughness. We all carry around false beliefs and doubts about whether we’re enough – smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough, successful enough, rich enough, lovable enough. Perhaps it’s a loss you’ve suffered – a death, a broken or ended relationship, or a traumatic experience that has been a part of who you are for years or even decades. Perhaps it’s a perspective you have about yourself, about how things work, about how relationships work, or about how the world works (e.g. I’m a failure, the world is dangerous and out to screw me, great relationships are a myth).  Whatever it is that you’re carrying (and likely have been carrying for a long time), it’s keeping you from having the life experience and outcomes that you desire. We often refer to these things we carry as baggage, and baggage goes far beyond relationships. There’s life, money, business, employment, and every other conceivable kind of baggage, and they’re all heavy. They all weigh us down. They can sometimes also be what we use to beat up other people in our lives. While there’s a wide variety of types, weights and sources of the things that we carry, one thing is true for all of them – you have the ability to put them ALL down and to live life without them (or at least to continually lessen their weight and impact).

Before we further explore what you’re carrying, let’s get clear on one critical element about the things that you carry. Are you ready for this truth? You may not like it, and you’ll most likely want to reject it. Here it is: the biggest obstacle to letting go is YOU. All of these things that we carry around didn’t jump onto us and didn’t attach themselves to us. Even if they were “gifted” to you by someone else, that person didn’t and couldn’t force you to carry it. We all choose what we carry, even if we know that carrying it is unhealthy and getting in the way of what we really want. Unless and until you’re willing to accept that carrying something is your choice, you’ll be unable to let it go because you’re the one holding on to it.

Before you stop reading and conclude that I’m certifiable, stay with me for a bit longer as I explain. First, it just makes sense that we’re all responsible for the choice to carry something. No matter what the nature or degree of our past experiences have been, neither experiences nor other people can force you to carry something. Yes, those experiences and people can metaphorically hand you a belief, a thought, or a perspective. They can even deliver a wound, but each one of us has the power to let it go because we made the choice – even if unconsciously – to carry it. 

Second, acknowledging that you’re choosing to carry something is an empowering awareness because if you can choose to carry it, then you can choose to let it go. It’s the truth of the carrying choice that informs and proves the truth of your ability to let it go. This is perhaps the most empowering truth about the things you’re carrying around that are getting in the way of the relationships and outcomes you so deeply desire. But you cannot let anything go until you’re fully aware of it, own that carrying it is your choice, get clear on the ways that carrying it is actually serving you, and choose to let that thing go and put it down –  knowing that the process may be messy, uncomfortable and perhaps even painful.

Not only are you choosing to carry whatever it is that you’re carrying, that carrying is also serving you in some way. In other words, you’re getting something out of carrying it, even if you’re aware of its extremely limiting and damaging impact. Here is another simple truth – we only do things that serve us in some way, even if we know that it’s also having a negative impact. For example, in what ways could believing that you’re not good enough serve you? One obvious example is that if you believe you’re not good enough, you’ll play small and not take risks, which minimizes the risk of coming up short or failing. In other words, you avoid the risk of an outcome that might feed your belief that you’re not good enough. In even clearer words, carrying your self-limiting beliefs and living life based upon those beliefs is a form of protection, and that protection is what serves you and allows you to rationalize (albeit mostly unconsciously) your ongoing carrying of that belief.

Let’s look at another example. I have a coaching client who is conscious (now) that she is highly judgmental of other people. She is also now conscious that this judgmental nature is keeping her from forming the close relationships that she desires. Finally, she has become conscious that her judgmental nature and habit grew out of being negatively judged by her mother over the years, starting when she was young. So how does her self-limiting belief and judgmental behavior serve her? Simple – it keeps people at a distance so that they cannot judge her and hurt her. Yes, they can and will still judge her, but this isn’t obvious until you dig into her self-beliefs. Until she realized that she was getting a “win” from her self-limiting beliefs and resulting judgmental behavior, it was nearly impossible for her to let it go and put it down because doing so would be perceived internally as being unsafe and at risk. While we’re all and always at risk of rejection and being hurt, only when you become aware and conscious of the ways that your beliefs, perspectives and thinking are serving you can you begin to work on letting them go.

What beliefs or perspectives are you carrying? What hurt, loss or trauma are you choosing to carry around? What doubts about your worthiness or enoughness are you carrying around like an anchor and allowing to keep you from having what you really want in any part of your life? And most important, in what ways are these things that you’re carrying serving you (likely protecting you), which creates a very real attachment to them and an unconscious aversion to letting them go? Is now the time for you to let go, and are you ready to take the risk that always comes with letting go?

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