I have always had trouble accepting weakness and/or the feeling of being powerless. For people that know me this is probably a strange confession to make as I have always been a loving and compassionate and understanding person.
Maybe my difficulty comes from never wanting to accept the frailty that also resides in me. Or it comes from the knowledge – buried deep inside – that I’m not 100% the master of my destiny.
There is still a part of me that believes it is all up to me. I can make it happen if I’m strong enough or persistent enough. That’s the part that I have been working on.
Yesterday, I had a long talk with a close friend of mine. He is in his 50s and his life is in disarray. He lost his job a couple of months ago and hasn’t been able to figure out what to do next. So, he decided to stay in the not knowing. He told me he has spent his entire life chasing after things and being a go-getter. Maybe this is the time to release and let life take the course that it needs.
Now, my friend doesn’t have a lot of financial pressure. Not because he is well off, but because his daughter is grown up and he is now single.
I don’t know if what he is doing is wise or not, but he got me thinking about the concept of releasing control.
I have never blinked at charging ahead or inventing and then re-inventing myself. But, what would it be like to sometimes step aside, breathe, and let life unfold? As I think about the question, I realize the answer lies in being present and letting go of expectations. A wise attitude for a relationship.
So often, as we embark in a journey with someone else, we want to know for sure where it will lead us. Is this a relationship that will have a “happily ever after” stamp on? Or is this a relationship that will end? Or even, is this a relationship that will end in disappointment? Questions like; is this worth my time and effort quickly follow.
The truth is; nobody knows. Being in a relationship means living in the moment and letting go of expectations. Simply because relationships are always evolving because the two people involved are constantly changing.
A successful connection is based on the ability of the two people to live in the web and flow of their interactions. So, rather than ask questions like “where this will go?” one should ask “am I happy now?” As long as the answer is yes, then this is a relationship worth staying in.
While I don’t know about my friend’s current posture, I do know when it comes to relationships, letting life take its course is the only wise attitude. And if we are to be successful, we must learn to be present and let go of expectations.
Going with the flow, living in the moment, having no expectations could be the most difficult state of mind to reach as it means letting go of the outcome.
Somehow, somewhere we bought into the illusion that if we have a tight grip on our lives we will be spared from hurt and pain. That is not so. The effects are actually the opposite — the tighter the grip, the greater the confusion.
I have been a widow for almost four years now. A couple of months ago I met someone who sparked my interest. The first one in many years. In my mind – and based in my past experiences – I was embarking into a committed relationship. But, to my surprise my new partner saw things differently. He truly enjoyed our time together when we were together, but wasn’t ready, didn’t want, or couldn’t commit to only being with me.
At that point, I was faced with a few choices: 1 – change the situation, 2 – leave it, 3 – change how I felt about it, 4 – accept it, 5- become miserable or 6 – make things worse.
My first choice was to leave the situation. In my mind it was either you’re ready to give this a shot or you’re not. And staying open to meeting other people did not seem to me to translate into really giving it a shot. I think in my decision, I didn’t take into consideration my partner’s history, rhythm or way of living. I actually don’t even know if he was seeing others or was more attached to the idea/possibility of it.
A couple of weeks after me telling this person, I was no longer interested in seeing him under the circumstances he was proposing, I realized I was unhappy. I missed his company, what we had started building together, the feeling of being connected and the attention he offered me. I realized being without him at that particular moment was harder than being with him. So, I called, and we got together. But, I had stipulations for the new situation. If he wanted an open relationship then we couldn’t email, text, call as much as we had in the past and we were not to ask each other where we were and what we were doing. My thinking was this way I would protect myself from knowing something that would undoubtedly upset me.
Well, a couple of more weeks went by and I had another realization. I wasn’t being spontaneous and thus I wasn’t getting as much out of the experience as I could. And I still worried about the outcome.
I again ran through the six possibilities I had run through only a few weeks back (see above) and finally realized the only sensible thing to do was to let go of the outcome. If we will live together happily ever after or if we will stop seeing each other by tomorrow is a question mark, but enjoying each other as much as possible and being in the moment is a certain possibility.
We lose a lot when we don’t accept things as they are. By doing that we actually get in the way of letting life sort itself out and possibly give us the outcome we wanted.
Arm wrestling a relationship to reflect our needs, fears and insecurities will just lead to pain and hurt. While acceptance will lead to real experiences.
Of course, I’m discussing a situation that involves respect and mutual liking. When that is not present then staying means opening oneself up to an abusive relationship. You must know the difference.
This is a new experience for me, but I do know it is something I must go through now. And so I check in with myself constantly and ask the same six questions. When the answer changes, then it will be time to switch my behavior. In the meantime, I’m laughing and enjoying my moment.
One of the most difficult things to understand is that we’re not responsible for other people’s happiness. Better yet, that we have no control over it.
The reason it is so difficult is that sometimes someone who is close to us chooses time and again to see and experience life in the darkest way possible. We try to show them there is a different way, but they are stuck in their dark perception. They are unhappy and unnecessarily so. It is frustrating and painful. But it is their choice and there is nothing we can do about it. Insisting in the same methodology of trying to show light points to our incapacity to accept our own limitation.
I’m not suggesting giving up in being present in the lives of people we love who choose to be unhappy. I’m suggesting we accept the fact that we can’t make anyone change if they don’t want to. I suggest not adding to the situation by embracing the unhappiness and frustration ourselves.
Getting to a place of acceptance can be difficult because we often think there is one more thing we can try or we think we can change others if we only apply ourselves a little more. But, the truth is we know it really isn’t up to us.
Accepting that others have the control of their experience is an indicator of our own growth. We can offer compassion and friendship, but as we are responsible for our happiness so are others for theirs.
I have always wanted to be perfect. Not because I think I’m better than anyone, but because I always thought I had the means and the possibility. Simply put my thinking was: “I should know better and just do right.” And when I didn’t feel I acted “right”, the backlash was huge.
Of course, when I write this I am reminded of the silliness of such goal. But, I’m afraid I’m not alone. There are many of us in this world that keep ourselves on a short leash and demand nothing less than perfection.
While for the less informed that can seem like a lofty ideal, the reality is imbued with much suffering and chastising.
What is perfect? It depends on the situation and who we ask. So, if we can’t even define perfection how could we aim to achieve it? And how can we expect ourselves to deliver the right action in every circumstance?
The only antidote for people like myself is another very powerful drug; compassion. As we struggle to achieve the impossible, compassion comes-in as a way to allow us to see ourselves for who we truly are; human beings. And to be reminded that at every second of our existence we are making choices from a high-wire.
We walk a thin line through chaos and uncertainty trying to do the best we can. Sometimes the results are exactly what we want and sometimes they are not. But, if we apply compassion towards ourselves we will realize we are deserving of forgiveness. We’ll also realize we are not commander in chief of life itself.
Living means inter-acting with others which means we cannot hold ourselves to be the only voice in any relationship or situation. We all have our conflicts and difficulties that we have to work through which we do as live our lives.
I’m working hard at letting go of my want to be perfect. These days I use the phrase: “I’m doing the best I can.” And that is all I can ask of myself.
What about you? Are you asking yourself the impossible?
Sometimes no matter what we do, a relationship doesn’t work out. It is terribly painful when after trying all different ways of being and relating we come to the understanding a particular dynamic will never be satisfying or even civilized. Once we get to that point the next hardest thing happens; we need to let go. This scenario happens in friendships, in family and romantic relationships.
Yesterday, talking to a friend she shared she had come to the end of trying to have a minimally positive relationship with her husband of fifteen years. In her case, her husband went from being a recovering alcoholic to being an alcoholic. And no matter what she says or tries he continues on his path of self-destruction. She has decided to ask him to leave; a very painful decision as they also have kids. But she has come to the point where she understands there can’t be a relationship between them beyond her being his caretaker.
I understand her decision. I too recently have come to the same point with a family member. It is not easy, but when you realize there will never be a good outcome, the only thing you can do is remove yourself from the equation. Now I didn’t come to this point easily. We are talking of an entire life time of trying different approaches and a lot of pain as a result. But sometimes we have to be humble and recognize it really isn’t up to us.
Ending or withdrawing from a relationship is not a perfect solution, especially if it involves a family member. In these situations one must understand there is no satisfying outcome. There is only the healthier path. It doesn’t mean you have stopped loving them. It just means you realize a relationship is not possible.
Letting go of people is never easy, but sometimes having them in our lives causes us more pain than good. And that goes for the other person as well. In those instances center yourself, take a deep breath, wish them well, and let them go without anger or recrimination.
Some think it’s holding on that makes one strong; sometimes it’s letting go. — Sylvia Robinson
Learning to let go can be a life-long process, but if we are striving for a well-balanced life, it is a skill we must acquire.
We are bombarded on a daily basis by situations and people that we feel frustrate or mistreat us. Of course we all also have the devastating loses when we have to experience living without a loved one. But I’m not going to be talking about that “letting go”.
I want to talk about the letting go of the small stuff because that is what on a daily basis wears us out.
All we can do is what we can do. Sounds silly but it’s the truth. Lifewise it means we do what we can, we do our best, and then we let go.
Today, I went to pitch (present) a number of film ideas to a network for production. I put a lot of time in thinking and developing these story ideas. I also put a lot of time into rehearsing how to pitch/explain these ideas to the executives. My final responsibility was to be calm and relaxed enough to perform as I had rehearsed so many times in my office and to my friends. I did all of it and in the end it is up to the executives to hire me to write the screenplays or not. I have no control over their decision and because of that whatever happens I’m okay.
Yesterday I sent an email to a friend I had not spoken to in 7 years. We used to be very good friends but parted ways when I decided to change how I experienced my life. By no means am I blaming her for my past life or how I used to live it. The separation happened because as I embarked on a path of a less self-destructive life, she did not want to come along. She still believed living in chaos was the only way to exist and so I let the relationship go.
In my email I let my friend know even though we have not spoken in many years I only have love for her. A few hours after I sent the email a thought hit me; what if she doesn’t respond? My pride was sticking its ugly head out in fear of rejection. Now when I first sent the email, all I had in my heart was positive feelings but when the thought of rejection hit me, for a moment I regretted sending the email and felt stupid.
The experience made me think about pride. Not the good kind, such as empowering ourselves by accepting and being proud of who we are, but the bad kind where our ego is so frail that we think we must defend ourselves with all the pride we can muster.
In Greek mythology the myth of Sisyphus tells the story of pride and its consequences.
That’s a tough one. I know because I’m one who has had to struggle with this issue my entire life. I also know I’m not alone.
To be able to do things and derive pleasure from doing them without being dependent on the outcome is a wisdom we need to gain for our well-being.
Letting go of an outcome allows us to be in the present and fully enjoy it. Often worrying about the success of our actions only robs us from the energizing and liberating feeling which comes from doing something that is special to us.
Will it work out? Will people like it? Will it have the result I think it deserves?