Time to Let Go

Last year I walked a portion of the Camino de Santiago – 200 miles of mostly solitary walking across northern Spain. It was an incredible journey, and it was filled with many different experiences along the way. One tradition on the Camino is to carry a stone with you, which represents something you want to let go of. You then leave the stone at the base of a certain cross as a symbol of the letting go of something (or some things) that no longer serve you or which are weighing you down. The Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross) is located at the highest point along the Camino Frances route and is one of the more significant Camino landmarks (see the picture).

I had grand plans for stones and this letting go process on the Camino, and I was traveling with three stones (one for myself and two for friends). Unfortunately, I learned on my third day on the Camino that a little research would have been helpful. In the movie The Way (2010), the Iron Cross is shown at the end of the Camino; however, in reality it is much earlier on the Camino, and I started my journey after the Iron Cross, which meant that I could not leave my stones there. I quickly realized that I had another option and decided to toss my stones into the Atlantic Ocean at the furthest end of Camino (known as the End of the World). It seemed fitting to let go of things into a place called the End of the World. And so my plan was clear.

I also picked up a couple of new stones along the way – two stones that called to me on the Camino, that I later realized related to my Mom and to my cousin David (who had been caring for his ill father – my uncle). For my Mom, the stone represented letting go of grief and loss. For my cousin, the stone represented letting go of the mantle of taking care of his father and the family. My own stone represented letting go of the man I used to be in order to more fully trust the man I am today. While the process is and was symbolic, I took it very seriously because I know that in order to move forward I have to let go of things. So, what do you need to let go of—and are you ready to let go?

We all have things we want or need to let go of – past experiences, prior relationships, things people did or said against us, beliefs about ourselves, or even beliefs about the world and how things work. Many times we think and talk about how things are getting in our way, but we fail to realize that they’re still getting in the way because we’re failing or refusing to let them go. For a wide variety of reasons, we hold on to things that don’t serve us or which are literally keeping us from our desires and dreams, and the only way to move on is to begin to let them go.

In 2017 I let go of a number of significant weights and obstacles to my joy and success, including a harsh belief about the man I used to be, the remnants of a past relationship and the fear of and resistance to being alone. While my Camino journey had a significant impact on this letting go process, you don’t have to walk 200 miles or travel to Spain to let things go. You can start letting go of things that don’t serve you now by setting the intention to let them go and then acting going forward as if you truly have let them go.

Perhaps it’s time to let go of a negative belief you have about yourself (e.g. not loveable, not worthy, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not good enough, or some other not enough story). Perhaps it’s time to let go of ill feelings you have towards some person or about some event or experience in the form of forgiveness. Perhaps it’s time to let go of some old beliefs about what is possible (or impossible or improbable) in your life. Perhaps it’s time to let go of your belief that you’re not a leader, because everyone has a leader inside them. Perhaps it’s time to let go of some person or people in your life because of the negative impact they’re having on you.

Imagine how much lighter you’ll feel after letting go. Imagine how your life and leadership will be different when you leave some of these things behind. Imagine pursuing your desires and dreams without these things that are holding you down or back. I can clearly envision the difference that letting go will have on your experiences, emotions, outcomes and impact.

It’s time to let go, and only you can decide what to let go of and if you’re ready to let go. There’s no magic required in this process, but perhaps it means writing a letter and burning it. Perhaps it means picking up a stone and tossing it into a lake, river or ocean to symbolize your letting go. And perhaps it’s nothing more than deciding that you’re ready to let something go because you deserve more joy, passion, connection and results in your life. What is it time to let go of?

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