The Only Way To Make Space for What Truly Matters in Your Life
Last week, I had a horrible fight with a friend. We said nasty things to each other, things people say when emotions suppressed inside them for years erupt like a volcano.
To an extent, we both knew this was coming, and that it would signal the end of our friendship. This might sound extreme—after all, we just fought a few days ago. It might not take us any time to patch up.
But here’s the thing. For a long time, I could sense that this friendship wouldn’t last. I think my friend felt it too. We no longer saw eye-to-eye on many topics. We often went months without checking on each other. And when we did connect, we didn’t know what to speak.
It was a sign that we had outgrown the friendship. But instead of accepting the reality, we kept forcing it to work. Not because we loved each other, but because we didn’t want to rock the ship.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve followed the don’t-rock-the-ship pattern. I’ve done it too many times in my life.
I stayed in relationships even when my partner and I were no longer compatible. We dreaded conversations because we fought like cats and dogs all the time. But I kept telling myself things would get better.
I worked with clients despite knowing our relationship had soured beyond repair. We kept thinking each other’s demands were unreasonable. We couldn’t get through a single discussion without resorting to blame games. But I kept telling myself things would get better.
Any positive event reinforced my faith that things would revert to the way they were earlier. But the negative ones outnumbered them three to one. I would forget positive events in a flash. But each negative event would circle in my head and fuel anger that consumed me. I turned into a ticking time bomb.
Almost all of us assume that if something is not right for us, it will be taken away by magic. That’s why we linger, grasping onto what’s clearly not a match, and go to great lengths to not rock the ship while we wait for the universe to do its thing.
But the ship eventually hits a crazy storm, capsizes, and flings us into the freezing water. And we wonder why the same crap happens to us over and over again.
Life keeps putting us through the same experiences until we learn our lessons.
If we want to stop getting flung in the water, we have to learn to be okay with taking a lifeboat and leaving a sinking ship. We have to be honest with ourselves, particularly when things appear bleak. We have to stop feeling guilty about wanting to let go because letting go is not the same as giving up.
Giving up is when you stop putting effort into goals and relationships that matter to you. Letting go is when you stop putting effort into goals and relationships that hold you back.
If you want to be happier, if you want to discover your true potential, you have to let go of many things you hold close. Like the dreams you chose for others, the idea that they have to live up to your expectations, and vice versa.
You have to stop finding ways around the act of letting go, like seeking closure or revenge, or wanting to prove them wrong.
“Letting go is as effortless as an exhale.” — Brianna West
As West beautifully pointed out, you’re not really letting go of anything. You’re just accepting what’s already gone, which means you’re releasing the idea, not a person or thing. Doesn’t sound so difficult now, does it?
Letting go is not selfish. It’s a healthy practice. It teaches you to value yourself, adapt to situations, and focus on what’s important to you.
This week, take stock of three tiny things that are holding you back and let them go without fanfare. Repeat it the next week and the week after. This will develop your letting-go muscle. You can then let go of bigger things, like people that don’t deserve a place in your life.
In the short term, this might feel tough. But in the long term, you’ll make space for the actions and people that help you become the person you want to be.
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