Setting the Intention to Let Go

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

I’m back from my Alaskan journey and disconnection, and now it’s time to get back to sharing thoughts and ideas that matter. Two weeks ago, I wrote about the reasons that we want to hold on to people and things even if they don’t serve us. This week I want to continue the deep dive into the letting go concept. Specifically, I want to talk with you about one of the final stages of letting go – the process of actually letting go and the intentionality required to make that happen.

The first three letting go steps are all ways that you actually hold on – reasons that you’re unable or unwilling to let go – so dealing with these steps leaves a clear path to letting go as you set a clear intention to do so. If you want to change a behavior or way of thinking, you need to be intentional (the mindset of setting an intention) and being intentional requires being crystal clear with the first three steps in the letting go process.

I believe in the power of words, and setting an intention is a great example. Consider the differences between the following:

I’ll try to let it go.

I want to let it go.

I hope to let it go.

I have to let it go.

I need to let it go.

I intend to let it go.

While setting the intention doesn’t ensure that you let go – you still have to actually let go – the act of setting a clear intention is like drawing a line in the sand, and it also wires your conscious and unconscious thoughts towards letting go.

Once you’ve consciously set your intention towards letting go, with clarity on the first three steps discussed above, it’s as if you’ve wired your thinking (conscious and unconscious), beliefs and actions towards letting go. And then the letting go process will unfold almost unconsciously, as if it were programmed into your psyche. Indeed, setting a clear intention is a form of programming your thinking and actions towards letting go.

While intention setting is often easier than the first three steps, there’s a key element to intention setting that might be in your way. It can sometimes come up when you’re working to understand the reasons that you’re holding on, but whenever it comes up it flows from and through our own self-worth beliefs. To be clear, we don’t have to fully believe in our own self-worth (there may always be doubts), but many times we can only let go to the degree we believe ourselves to be worthy of letting go. In other words, many times our holding on behavior is driven by questions and uncertainty about our self-worth (our enoughness), and we hold on because we don’t believe we’re worthy. Think of it this way – we hold on to old experiences, old beliefs, old stories and old hurts because we’re not worthy and confident enough to move on and leave the past in the past.

The process of setting clear intentions is different for different people, and there’s no required way of doing it. Certainly, it’s important to set clear intentions and to be intentional (pun intended) with the words you use in setting the intention (see above). It’s also often helpful to clearly articulate what you learned and uncovered in the first three steps. One way to do this is to journal about your letting go process, experience and journey to help make sure that you’ve seen and learned all that you can through the process. The act of writing it down can make it more real and open your eyes to even more insights and new perspectives – perspectives that can help ensure an effective letting go process.

This intention setting process may also involve declaring and using affirmations, which will help to address any lingering self-worth obstacles to the process of letting go. When you set intentions, you’re declaring who you are, cutting the connection (often unhealthy) that you had with past experiences, beliefs and actions, and claiming a new way of living and being without whatever it is that you’ve been holding on to. No matter which specific process you use for setting clear intentions, just make sure to be clear and committed. From here there’s only one thing to do – to let it gently slip away from your grasp (which I’ll cover in next Friday’s Story newsletter).

You may want to let go of various things or people, but wanting it is often not enough. You must work the challenging steps in the letting process, get and be honest with yourself, and then fully and intentionally commit to letting go. There’s such a gift on the other side of letting go, but the gift only comes once you’ve actually let go, and being intentional about it is a big step in actually letting go.

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