The Power of Letting Go

letting go

Someone once told me that in order to make room for new things in your life you truly have to let go of the old ones. Easier said than done…

For me, the scariest part of letting go is saying goodbye to something that has been a huge part of my life, shaping the person I’ve grown into. This became painfully obvious last week when I was back in my hometown for a little R&R before beginning the next leg of my journey.

I was only out of my last career for two days before I sat down to write my bio for a vision workshop. I tired, but the words wouldn’t come out… none that sounded good anyway. All I could do was stare at the blank computer screen. By the end of the day all I had to show for my efforts were a bunch of scrapped drafts. Why couldn’t I concentrate? Tired and frustrated I decided to sleep on it.

It wasn’t until my coach said, “Kim, of course you’re not going to be able to concentrate! You’ve just finished something that has been a part of your life for a whole decade and instead of allowing yourself time to feel that and grieve, you’re forcing yourself to the next door without closing the first.” I thought about that for a minute. Could that really be the reason I was having such a hard time.

Before I could process any more she asked me a powerful question, “What did that career give you?”

At first I didn’t understand. What do you mean, what did it give me? It gave me a steady pay check, benefits and three weeks of vacation a year. No, she said, it gave you much more than that.

It gave me support and connection. It enabled my growth in so many ways. It provided the perfect arena to realize and practice my passion. It allowed me to be a part of literally hundreds of young peoples lives. It allowed me to teach them something, that hopefully they’ll carry with them for a long time. And most importantly, it allowed and enabled me to arrive where I am now, on the brink of my next big adventure.

The thing with being unaware is there is no knowledge of a problem in the first place, only stuck feelings. Like an intense fog covering up a beautiful day. Once you ask yourself the right questions, the fog clears and all your left with is clear sky. Some questions that helped clear my fog include:

  1. What doors in my life are still left ajar?
  2. In what ways would closing them benefit me?
  3. What would need to happen for me to do this?

Once I was aware I could start the grieving process. This part was (and still is) very hard. I’m a very ambitious and impatient person. On the other side (as my family and friends can attest to) I am also a very emotional person. When my coach asked the question “What did it give you?” it helped transition the feelings of loss into feelings of appreciation. And appreciating the experience for what it was and what it gave you, is the first step towards healing.

Life is funny sometimes. Once I’ve learned something, and have the tools to implement this new learning, it likes to test. And not in the same nice package, because that of course, would be too easy.

I was tested literally two days later but this time in a much different way. Someone from my past whom I cared deeply for was in an accident.

We’ve been very careful to remain a friendship, which is why it shouldn’t surprise me that he contacted me, and really it didn’t. What did surprise me was my reaction to the whole thing. I realized I hadn’t fully let him go either.

Matters of the heart always seem to be much harder to sort through than leaving an old job, and of course they should be. The connection runs so much deeper. But the underlying message remains the same.

Letting go takes time. Appreciate the experience for what it was. Know that you would not have the courage to face today, if it wasn’t for the hardships of yesterday.

A while ago I was challenged to come up with 100 successes. No problem I thought. After struggling to get past 25, I couldn’t believe how hard it was!

If you are anything like me, you are constantly busy trying to figure out what’s next. We accomplish something and instead of taking a minute to truly appreciate the success, we immediately focus on what’s next. Isn’t that the whole point of accomplishing something, to feel the sense of accomplishment? Instead we put our head back down, look at our massive todo list and keep on keeping on.

It took me four weeks to finally record 100 successes. Some of them are obvious, some not so much. Some other people would call a success, while others would call a failure. One of them is finally being able to appreciate honest feedback. Early in my restaurant career, one piece of feedback would put me in tears for three hours (I’m not kidding, it happened). What matters is that you are able to see them and appreciate how far you’ve come.

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One thought on “The Power of Letting Go

  1. I really enjoyed the vulnerability in this post. You’re absolutely right! When people hear “grieving” they think of experiencing the death of a friend or loved one. But when we lose something (even by leaving it), we enter a period of grieving and self discovery! Whether it’s a relationship, a career, or a home, it is important to take time to acknowledge the loss and our emotions. Equally important, we must examine our hearts and dig out the benefits of the experience.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

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