Learning to let go

Posted by Karen M. Wyatt on November 29, 2012 at 12:45 PM

As I look back on the events of my life in 2012 I keep seeing one theme that has returned to me over and over again: I must learn to let go of my need to control things. I have had some major teaching experiences on this issue - like a bike accident that resulted in a concussion and broken clavicle, and a kidney stone that kept me doubled over in pain for a day. Each time something like that happens I remember that I have to let go and just accept life as it comes. But within a few days I go right back to my worrying, pushing and calculating as I try to make everything work out just as I think it should.

Shortly before my bike accident last March I was reading a publication about marketing and promoting books. It was filled with (literally) 1,000 ideas for getting the word out and selling more books. I devoured those ideas and spent hours and hours each day trying to do each one of the recommended activities, certain that all this work and worry on my part would guarantee that my book got out to the world. But a few days later I was lying in a hospital bed, dazed and confused with a concussion. I panicked because I knew I would be unable to continue my marketing efforts over the next month or so while I recovered. However I was injured badly enough that I had to accept it - there was nothing else I could do.

But then, as often happens in this crazy life, I learned a valuable lesson. During that month of my convalescence - while I was unable to do any marketing for my book - I received publicity in USA Today and The Denver Post AND the foreign translation rights to the book were purchased by a publisher in S. Korea. Just like that - the book got promoted without my efforts!

Throughout the year that same scenario has been repeated multiple times: whenever the events of life have distracted me from trying so hard to send my book out into the world, things begin to flow and move on their own, just as they were intended. It is clear to me that when I try too hard I become an obstacle to the natural course of life, the free flow of energy. So how can I learn from this year of ups and downs and finally remember to let go?

I recognize now that letting go is a process that requires attention every day. I can't just decide once that I am no longer going to try to control things and then be done with it forever. Every day I must check in with myself, watch for those old habits of worry and pushing to arise, and then choose to lighten my grip on my expectations for how life should unfold. The dialogue goes something like this: "The registered letter I mailed took two weeks to arrive at its destination? Oh well, I guess that was the right timing." "The cover file for my book isn't the right size? Oh well, I'll just have to change it." "The tech support person won't return my call? Oh well, I'll just have to wait longer to figure out how to use this software."

And far more often my response has to be: "Oh well, I'll just leave this alone for now and go for a walk. It will work out in time." The message that is beginning to get through to me is that life is really meant to be lived in the moment, free of both regrets from the past and anxiety for the future. There is a certain balance we must strive for between engaging fully in our life's work and letting go of the outcome of that work. I'm still trying to live up to this ideal, moment by moment. But right now ... the sun is shining ...  and I think its time to go for that walk I was mentioning.

Categories: Spiritual Practice, Transformation, Lifestyle

Copyright ©2010 Karen Wyatt, MD

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