Inspiration Series - Month Five

Ready, Set…Let Go

The art of letting go is the art of letting things simply be.

Living an inspired life is as much about learning to get out of your own way as it is about following the energy of inspiration. The two go hand in hand, of course. As you get out of your own way, you get into your own flow.

You can tell you’re in your own way, of course, by how you feel. Frustrated. Stuck. Impatient. Resigned. Discouraged. Upset.

Maybe even ticked off.

That’s the beauty of feelings that don’t feel particularly good: they’re reminding you that you’re somehow focused in a way that isn’t in alignment with who you really are. You may be holding onto something that is constricting you rather expanding you.

You may need to let go. Of…something.

And that’s where it can get a little interesting. It’s ridiculously easy to get confused about what to let go of. If you’re like a lot of people, you may think you should let go of the feeling. Yet trying to let go of the feeling is sort of like turning off your smoke detector when the alarm goes off – but not putting out the fire that triggered the alarm. Things are quieter, for sure. For about a minute. Then all hell breaks loose.

The best thing to do with feelings is to actually feel them. Not judge them or analyze them or ignore them or simply hope they’ll go away. Slow down for a moment and actually feel them. They’ve been trying to get your attention, so give it to them. Giving your feelings attention is like giving them space, and in that space they can flow. They’ll run their course and move on.

Once you’ve honored yourself by feeling your feelings, get curious about how your mind was focused when the feelings arose. Chances are, your mind was…

  • Conjuring up all sorts of unsavory “what if” outcomes.
  • Criticizing yourself or someone else.
  • Beating yourself up for a mistake you (think you) made.
  • Trying hard to figure something out.
  • Weighing the pros and cons of a pending decision yet not getting clear.
  • Thinking you should be further ahead than you are.
  • Thinking things should be going differently than they are.

To put it simply, your mind was focused in a way that wasn’t helpful to you. And that’s what you benefit from letting go of: the focus. You’re not letting go of your desire for a solution, or for something to go well. You’re letting go of the way you are focused on creating what you want.

Letting go is, of course, a metaphor. And since we’re talking about focus, a better way to think of the shift you want to make is to shift from a narrow focus to a wider one. You’re not so much letting go of your focus as you are softening and expanding it. Letting it become diffuse.

It’s like turning a laser beam into candlelight.

Candlelight expands effortlessly in all directions at once. Unlike a single-pointed laser, it doesn’t try to modify or eliminate whatever is in its path. Instead it casts a soft glow on everything in its presence and allows those things to simply be.

Learning to soften your focus and simply let things be is deceptively powerful. It creates space for fresh insights, solutions and opportunities to emerge from the unseen depths of Infinite Mind.

I remember a time several years ago when someone I respected, whom I had done work for in the past and with whom I wanted to maintain a positive relationship, asked me to take on a project. It wasn’t a project I was particularly interested in doing, and the rate he was willing to pay me was less than my hourly rate at the time. Not an ideal scenario.

My mind started doing its thing. I pounded myself with a heavy “should” – I should do this for the sake of the relationship – yet the thought of doing the project, for the rate he was offering, left me feeling resentful. The feeling was my cue to slow down.

So I did. I slowed down to feel through my resentment. Yet I kept pressuring myself to make a decision. So I decided that I would say yes to the project, but I would have to negotiate a higher rate so I wouldn’t continue to feel resentful.

That felt better, but not a lot better. I paused again. The simple truth was that I didn’t want to do the project at all, but I didn’t want to jeopardize the relationship by turning it down. I was focusing on the circumstance with my either/or laser: either I do a project I don’t want to do, or I turn it down and jeopardize a valuable relationship.

Because I still felt badly about the whole thing, I realized that the narrow, fear-based way I was focusing on the opportunity was not helping me. I reminded myself I didn’t have to make a decision that very minute. I decided, instead, to simply let things be for a little while.

And during that little while, which was over a period of several days, I didn’t think about it much at all. When I did, I allowed my attention to gently notice all of the various thoughts I had about it, without buying into any of them. I reminded myself of the simple truth: this project doesn’t appeal to me.

And lo and behold, about a week later the person who had offered me the project emailed to let me know that his priorities had shifted and he wasn’t going forward with it at that time. Our email exchange was brief, kind and respectful. The door remained open for me to work with him again.

It was the ideal outcome, and one I didn’t have to manipulate or manage in any way. I had only to soften my focus and give the whole thing some space. I got out of my own way and allowed a higher, more loving intelligence to orchestrate things on my behalf.

I didn’t “try” to let anything go. I simply let it all be. I gave it space. I reminded myself of my own deepest truth.

And I did a little happy dance after receiving that email.

Inspired Practices

  • Listen to this recorded visualization several times during the next month. Allow yourself to relax into letting things simply be.
  • As you move throughout your day, get in the habit of reminding yourself to “let it be” or “give it space” when you find yourself thinking about something in a way that makes you feel tense or frustrated. Pause, breathe, and feel for the simplest truth you can find about it. Let that simple truth be enough.