It’s not easy to let go. It’s even more challenging when it hurts your ego. The act of letting go is more that just the act itself, it’s a process.
I recently re-assesed a pattern in my life and decided that it was time to stop the cycle of seeking approval. For those who know me understand that I am not necessarily looking for approval from people, but I seek approval through education. I am addicted to education. I am addicted to getting degrees. My addiction has become my hiding place. I don’t mean learning new things on a day to day basis, I mean going back to school for certificates, degrees, etc. I love learning and that is not the problem. The problem is that I find my value there. Some of you might not see this as a problem and that is okay because it’s not your problem. However, this is something that hinders me from living a full life with those I love. Instead of seeking time with friends and family I am behind a computer screen or behind a book. My husband comes home and I am in my corner doing homework. My marriage takes a back seat. My spiritual life takes a back seat. My friendships take a back seat and my family does as well. I can’t live my life like that anymore. I want more out of life than just another degree and walk across the stage for a diploma. I choose my family. I choose my marriage. I choose to live my life content just as it is and live life outside of my computer and my books. What is life if it is not lived fully anyway?
After about a year of mulling over this idea of “letting go” I will share with you the steps I took to get to where I am now. My journey is far from being complete, but here is how I took the first step towards releasing my clutch from that which I hold close and that which inhibits my ability to connect with people.
1. Acknowledgement: Acknowledgement takes courage. Acknowledgement doesn’t necessarily mean we are ready to move on, but it means we can look the problem in the eye instead of hiding from it and ignoring that it exists.
2. Naming: Once you acknowledge the issue give it a name. Living with a nameless issue is like living with blinders on. We can’t fully see our potential and life outside of this problem because we don’t realize that we have blinders on. Often we pretend it’s not a problem because it has no real face and no real name.
3. Say it out loud: Tell someone! Even if you’re just thinking about it and not ready to take the step to change it quite yet. By sharing it you make it real to the rest of the world. Saying it out loud means that there is someone else who knows it exists.
4. Acceptance: Acceptance gives us the ability to take the next step in setting a goal. Once you have accepted it you get specific about your goal. How will you follow through? What are the things you need to do to make sure the necessary changes happen? What is your time line? Where do you see yourself in 3, 6, 9 months?
5. Accountability: Ask for support. Find someone who will check in with you about this. Ask that person to make sure you are taking steps in the right direction. This accountability helps you set your goal in letting go. When you set a goal(s) and you share it you are more likely to follow through than if you don’t share it with anyone.
6. Releasing: Everyday we make the choice to keep moving forward. Choose to take 1 step forward everyday by looking at your goals list and checking in with your accountability partner. There is progress even in just one step.
7. Checking in: There is something magically humbling about accountability. It’s as if we get back to our need for communal support that it opens people up for more conversation. When we are able to be vulnerable people around us can sense that and might open up just by the nature of your honesty. Asking your accountability partner to check in with you every so often is helpful. This will keep you honest and also help you continue with your progress.