One of the most difficult things in life has been learning to release the outcome of items that are important to me and the goals I have set. I can tell you that I have released something, and in my spiritual fervor proclaim, “I’m just trusting God to handle it”, but do I really? I have struggled with continually releasing and then taking back things into my own power (or so I mistakenly thought) that just didn’t seem to be going the way I had planned. In reality, I think it’s safe to say I never really released them to begin with! When you truly release something, it’s no longer continually on your mind as a state of concern. It no longer keeps you up at night, working out your potential options. There is true rest and freedom in something that has truly been let go of, which in turn frees us up to relax and shift our mental focus to other issues at hand. It’s the difference between leisurely floating down a beautiful river in a canoe, taking in all the sights and enjoying it with wonderful company, or being on that fishing boat in “The Perfect Storm”, as you desperately attempt to navigate your best options to keep from capsizing and perishing in an overwhelming torrent of force against you!
I find it almost humorous, if it weren’t so darn sad, to consider the state of worry I have allowed myself to function in for the majority of my life. When you really get down to it, all that energy wasted in worrying about how things would turn out never influences anything in the least, yet it deprives us of many faculties that significantly affect the quality of our lives.
Clarity of mind is difficult to achieve when one is in a state of worry. Intrusive thoughts sabotage our greatest intentions when it comes to organization, decision making, and higher level thought processes, as well as dramatically reducing our overall body’s health and vibration/frequency. Maintaining positive thoughts becomes increasingly more difficult as our vibration continues to plummet and we find ourselves delving more and more into the deep abyss of negativity. Once this spiral begins, it can be difficult to stop and life begins turning into quite a negative, self-fulfilling prophesy, physically, emotionally, and spiritually!
Many of us go through life feeling as though we are simply pawns, or victims of our circumstances. A tell-tale sign of this mentality is continual complaining and blame! I know first-hand because this was me for far too many years! It seemed that no matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, someone or something always managed to pull the rug out from underneath me. Interestingly enough, I never seemed to recognize the role I played in bringing these things to pass. There’s one thing today I know with absolute certainty… Nothing in my life happens that I have not played some role in, no matter how small! Once I recognized this fact, I began to look at things quite a bit differently.
A need for control is at the base of our inability to let go. There’s a false sense of security we maintain in believing we have the upper hand in what typically becomes self-manipulated circumstances. The truth of the matter is, we are not in TOTAL control of any aspect our own lives, let alone the lives of others, and never will be! Continually trying to be so is an exhausting process in futility. Now let me be clear, I am not saying we have no control over anything in our lives. Clearly, we do have the ability to control our responses to situations, whether or not we choose to exercise them. We have the ability to make choices to influence and train our thought processes for the better, which does most certainly play a role in changing long-term outcomes. What I am saying though, is that we are never in TOTAL control of any aspect of our lives, as outside influences are always playing a role. We have to learn to be flexible. Roll with the punches, as it were. Go with the flow!
I ran across a video a while back that impacted me immensely and beautifully illustrated this point. The speaker asked us to imagine we were in a boat and we believed everything we wanted, in terms of our desires and goals, was upstream. We had oars in the water and would paddle upstream fervently all day long, yet make little, if any, progress. At the end of each grueling day, we would get out of the water and as we walked ashore, flex our muscles and ask the onlookers, “Wow! Did you see how hard I paddled today? I almost killed myself and put in a good 10+ hours of heavy, exhausting work!” Now I find this humorous, as I can just see myself doing this not that long ago! Moaning and complaining, as well as seeking attention and approval for the laborious work I had engaged in all day long. It was true, I had worked very hard, but what did I actually accomplish? I got out of the water each day at almost exactly the same place I got in earlier that morning! I felt as though I had done so much, and I had in terms of physical & emotional activity, but in terms of actual progress toward my goal, I had made none!
This is the same battle I watch so many go through every single day! I see individuals fighting the exact same current morning after morning, diligent and dedicated to getting in there again today and working even harder than yesterday, yet with tremendous futility as no progress is made on any day when rowing upstream against a heavy current.
So what’s my point? Well, the speaker continued by suggested that all the vigorous rowing was complete futility and what we didn’t realize was everything we truly wanted was always downstream, and if we would just put the oars in the boat, the current would carry us where we needed to go! Hmmm… I thought! That’s ridiculous! All the things I know of that are worth having are all things you have to work really hard for, and even then sometimes you don’t get them! I was somewhat irritated by her supposition, but I continued to hear her out and I’m glad I did. What I realized that day is quite often, the things we think we want are not always what are in our best interest! You know the song, “Thank God for Unanswered Prayers”, speaks quite appropriately to this! I’m not saying all we have to do is sit in the boat either! We have to play an active role in guiding the boat, even when the current is carrying us, otherwise who knows what we will run into along the way that could greatly impede our journey! When we allow the current to carry us, we eventually arrive at a destination far greater than anything we could have imagined would have been upstream, even if we had found a way to get there! We still have an active role, but we are not the one powering the boat!
What this helped me realize, in terms of those things I have difficulty letting go of, is that I’m just paddling upstream. By worrying, I’m doing all this exhausting work that wears me out every single day and night and yet it doesn’t in any way increase the likeliness I will find the joy and peace I had been searching for! Quite the contrary, it negatively affected me in every single area of my life! Now, each time I start to worry and over think things, I have to remind myself to stop rowing! Leave the paddles alone unless I need to access them momentarily to steer away from potential trouble in the river and get back on course!
Learning to let go was one of the most difficult, yet at the same time most exhilarating experiences in my life. Learning to trust the current and quiet the fear-based “what ifs” that continually arose, allowed me build on each positive experience I encountered. This increased my trust and made it easier to step out on that limb the next time I was faced with worries and concerns. In this life, there are no guarantees. We each take a chance every morning when we step out of bed! I guess in a way the biggest question I ask now is, “WHAT AM I MISSING each time I try to paddle upstream, and how much better is what waits for me downstream than what I am killing myself for in the other direction?” I am also pretty keen on enjoying the view now, as I float by! Something I was never able to enjoy, or for that matter even notice, when I was paddling so aggressively! Let go! Float for a while! See where the current takes you and then ask if in comparison, what you were seeking before, including the exhaustion and devastation it brought, was worth never arriving! I think the answer is self-evident!
Love & Light,
Laura Lum Corby