At a big family gathering several years ago I sang an old James Taylor song to our two oldest daughters. They cried and I cried –not because my voice was terrible, but because the message and the timing was so poignant. The JT classic, “Secret O’ Life” drives home the main point of living itself — to be there in the moment. The trick Taylor says is enjoying the passage of time. It’s a profound line, for the only way to enjoy the passage of time is to exist in the now, free from rehashing the past or worrying about the future. The secret, then—at least if you’re a James Taylor fan—is to let go. This is also the main thesis in a wonderful book I have read over and over again — The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer.
Ironically, it is our attachment (and our mind’s preoccupation) to having the world be as we want it to be that steals the joy of appreciating the here and now. Anchored by negative emotions from the past, we often relive the worst hurts, the most painful moments. Blocked by fears of the future, we worry and fret about what if and how.
The result is that we’re stuck in the now physically, but spiritually and emotionally we’re anywhere and everywhere else. We’re caught in attachment purgatory.
The solution is to let go. You need to let go to find clarity and liberation from fear.
Even when we intellectually understand the concept of letting go, it’s not always easy. Letting go in principle and letting go in practice can be very different things.
Over the years I have trained, coached, and counseled many people through their pivots, and at some point a critical conversation occurs. As we start to dig into their situation, we discover that the next steps for their pivot are clear. There are opportunities for them—in work, in business, in love, in health—that are right in front of them. There are connections, money, new relationships— there’s hope—staring them right in the face.
But they won’t take action.
At that point conversation either stops altogether or drifts into the story of why they’re not ready. “It’s not time yet because . . .” or “I’m not ready because . . .” It’s a story of past troubles and future obstacles. Of regret and anger, fear and uncertainty. It is, fundamentally, a story of the inability to let go.
If you’ve found yourself saying those same things when faced with the idea of change, it’s important to realize that you’re telling yourself that story, too. And as long as you continue to tell yourself the story, you can’t let go.
But what’s really going on here? Why is it so hard to let go? The answer can be a difficult pill to swallow: If you can’t let go, it’s because you’re actually not done suffering yet.
When you’re anchored to the pain of the past, you’re anchored to the pain of punishing yourself, not others. After all, they don’t feel the pain of your reliving past transgressions. You do. And you’re not done suffering.
When you’re stuck in the present, waiting for the perfect moment, it’s not about the perfect plan. It’s about continuing to punish yourself by believing you don’t deserve something better. That you’re not good enough. It’s because you’re not done suffering.
Sure, you hide that suffering under a story: “Once such-and-such happens, then I’ll . . .”
The real story is this: I’m not done punishing myself yet.
Which is really a way of saying: I’m not ready to forgive myself yet. Our lives don’t change when we’re anchored to punishing ourselves. That anchoring disconnects us from the river of infinite potential around us. It keeps us separate from the miracles that are everywhere. From God. From the source. To pivot, you need to reconnect. To let go of the suffering. That’s how you reconnect to the unlimited resources and potential around you. All the money, connections, opportunities—they’re all flowing past you all the time, but you can’t dip in until you forgive yourself and forgive others.
But you can’t let go if you can’t forgive yourself first.
PIVOT POINT: You can’t let go if you can’t forgive yourself.
I’d LOVE to hear from you. Comment below with what you’re taking away from this post and how you will apply it in your life starting today. Chow for now!