Letting Go

The theme of my life right now seems to be—letting go. It’s not something that I would say that I do easily. I am, probably, the biggest control freak in some areas, but not all. I have a hard time watching something fall to pieces when I believe that I can save it. I would term myself an empathic. I take on everyone’s problems and, deep within me, have this gnawing, burning desire to make it better. When I can’t, it’s easier to not hear about it than it is to obsess about what I can’t fix. This is probably one of the things about myself that I simultaneously love and hate.

I love my ability to inspire, encourage and to give others the tools that are necessary to change. When it’s at its best, it’s great. When I feel unheard, it can easily slide into control, manipulation or downright bullying. Without examining it, I can tell myself that I am doing a loving and good thing. I often joke that if the world would just listen to me than all would be right. That’s not necessarily true and it’s very grandiose of me to think that I could be the solvent to all of the world’s problems. In all actuality, the world has problems because it’s apart of life. It’s how we grow. When I am trying to push someone to change, I am denying them their right to grow at their own pace.

I had to really examine my need to push instead of nurture. It’s my own impatience. My impatience is born of fear. I take your personal success and make it my own. That is where the mistake comes in and love slips out of the equation. It’s about to get very twisted, so stay with me. When I make someone else problems my own, their outcomes become my outcomes. I am a perfectionist. I hate to fail and I feel that the failure says something about me to other people. I would bet if you have a drill sergeant anywhere in your life, they suffer from the same thing. They control you so they don’t have to feel out-of-control. It’s misguided and painful to think this way.

I realized that this way of thinking gets me exactly what I don’t want. I am constantly disappointed. When I hold people up to my standards, then I am not allowing them to make their own mistakes and to learn at their own pace. And all that feels like is judgement. So, the last year for me has been a practice in letting go. I’ve learned to listen, give my advice and untie myself from the outcome. I stopped dying over the poison that other people drink. I used to have a quote in the front of my daily planner that said,“Think about how hard it is to change yourself and then you’ll realize what little chance you have of changing others.”  People have to want to and be ready to make a change. All you can do is share your thoughts. But, what I learned is that I didn’t have to be angry, hurt or disappointed if they didn’t want to work on their problems. It wasn’t affecting my life. I have control and choice over what I do and, in the long run, that is what affects me the most. By disconnecting myself from their outcomes, I loved them for who they are and eased my own frustration.  Don’t get me wrong, it hurts to watch someone you love go through unnecessary pain. But, maybe it’s necessary for that person to go through. Their journey is not your journey. Some of us can learn by watching other people avoid a puddle, but some of us have to walk through the water and feel the icky water soak our shoes before we believe it’s going to be uncomfortable.

So, in my own personal life, I had to let go as well. When I was able to let go and allow people their mistakes, I stopped being as much of a perfectionist. I allowed myself to make mistakes. I guess that I was projecting my need for perfection onto other people and my disappointment was really my own fear. I told you that it was twisted. So now that I can love everyone else without the need for them to be okay (so I can be okay), I can love myself the same way. I can finally allow myself to be less than perfect. I know that I’m not completely reformed because I surprised myself when I typed that sentence. I’m getting there. I love myself enough to not expect me to change overnight. I love others enough that if they don’t change, I will still love them. Why? Because they deserve it. Anyone struggling and in pain needs love. But, do not misunderstand me, if someone is abusive or toxic, I love them from afar.

I have learned that letting go is the most loving thing you can do. Sometime, you let go because losing you is the cold water that it takes someone to wake up.  Sometimes, you let go because people can’t grow within your grasp. Like a baby bird who is jostled from the nest, they find their wings and learn to fly. And sometimes you let go, because you don’t need to hold on. Sometimes, you just need to listen. The flower will bloom on its own. You may play the role of the rain or the sunshine, but the growth is up to the bud.

Love and let go. Let grow.