Let It Go or Lean Into It

“Lean into the discomfort of the work.”

~Brene Brown

Since I was about 8, I have heard the phrase, “I just need to let it go.” as an almost constant refrain from the adults in my life.   I too have found myself saying these words – “It is time to just let it go.”  “Let it go, already.”  “I am in the process of letting go.”  

And it feels that no matter how much I am letting something go, there is still a part of it that rises up – like the weeds that poke up around my flowers.  I am always pulling, pruning and clearing to get everything back to how it should be.

That is a lot of energy.   I wonder how much energy I have spent letting things go over my lifetime.  Over and over again, trying to get things in my life to how they ‘should be’.   

Is having a messy, unsettled, uneven, unkempt life – filled with unpleasant thoughts, feelings, memories really so bad?  I wonder.

Over the last few years, I have tried to be with my experiences more. I have tried, and failed.  I have tried again and managed a bit, only to move to actively letting things go.  Old habits, it appears, really do die hard.

But I have kept at it.   Leaning into the discomfort of emotions I would rather not be having, getting curious about the stories I tell myself to see if they really are true.  It has been in the process of being willing to be with my experiences as they are, that I have started to experience peace and harmony with me- as I am, not as I wish I was.   

My emotions are messy, unpredictable and sometimes messy.  My responses to the people, things and situations in my life can be calm and civil one moment and I can be righteous and indignant another.   These are qualities about me that I have found to be shameful and embarrassing, and I have spent a lot of time and energy working hard to ignore or suppress them.  I mean, “what would people think?”

It is phrases and stories like that that keep me in a cycle of being willing to face myself, as I am: messy, unpolished and (gulp!) human.   What I have found in the mess, is a lot more that is delightful, fun, capable and resilient, than there is anything to be ashamed of.   Beyond the surface emotions and responses, I am a good person who reacts from a place of fear, self doubt and fear that I will be left by those I feel I need.

That is my humanity.   That is the product of learned behaviors and beliefs designed to keep me safe.  Unfortunately, I have traded my strength and clarity, my humanity for a false idea that not knowing keeps me safe.

Today, I prefer to know myself – even if it means facing things that make me feel extremely uneasy and uncomfortable.  When I see myself – I have the opportunity to choose who I will be now, and what I will do to respond in accordance with who I want to be.   

That is the power I have sought in my work, in my engagements, in my relationships, and all the while the power was within me.

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