Letting Go

Dalai Quote

It had once been my nature to cling ferociously to the belief that I was powerful enough to change the thinking of family members, friends, and even entire university committees. I am mighty powerful—but not in that way. I know that my true power comes from honestly and compassionately speaking my truth with integrity, kindness, and compassion and then letting go of the outcome. And it’s especially important to let go of the outcome. Pain has always resulted when I got in there and tried to force that oversized round peg into a very small square hole.

Trusting (rather than hoping) that things will unfold with ease in a way that is best for all involved will help as you prepare to truly let go. You may want to consider replacing the word hope with the word trust. Hope often implies something we wish might happen in the future. Trust can be a more optimistic and affirming way toward creating a specific result. And sometimes, it’s appropriate to really, really hope.

A real lesson in trusting and letting go came when my father was living his last few years of life with Alzheimer’s disease. My dear, rational, calm, clear thinking dad would tell me stories of flying boxcars that took him to work (and back) and he would tell me that wherever he landed, his bed would be right there too! The first time he told me this, I felt like my heart was bleeding tears. I felt desperate to bring him back into my reality. “Dad,” I softly pleaded, “You know that part of your brain that isn’t always connecting quite right? Well, that’s what’s happening now and that story isn’t really true.” I thought I was controlling the situation quite nicely. What an illusion!

When I let go and realized that his reality was his reality and totally different from mine, I began to find peace. I let go—and met him where he was, not where I wanted him to be. On one of our last walks together, I said, “Dad, tell me more about the boxcar with wings.” His face lit up as he described how this unique train took off and landed so smoothly and how much fun it was to ride it. Dad had been a railroad engineer so the added speed created by the airplane wings must have been quite a delight for him! And my delight came when I was able to let go and be with him right where he was. For a while after his death, I spent time wishing I had met him there sooner. Now I know I did the best I could at the time. I know he knows it too.

Anthropologist Ralph Blum said, “Relinquishing control is the ultimate challenge for the spiritual warrior.” We have a choice to cling to thoughts and beliefs that keep us stuck, in pain or in the illusion of control—or, we can let go, and let God handle the details. It’s your choice.

–Excerpt from chapter 18 “Letting Go” in my book: Wellness Wisdom: 31 Ways to Nourish Your Mind, Body, & Spirit

How about you? Are you ready to let go of a thought, belief, or situation that no longer serves you? I’d love to hear from you. And may you feel the peace that comes from letting go . . .


4 thoughts on “Letting Go

  1. Karen King

    I love this chapter on Letting Go from your book.

    The practise of letting go means I am less attached to everything.
    Less concerned, less excited and yet calmer. I notice that I don’t have the adrenaline rush I used to have. Content instead of etastic. Patient instead of anxious. Accepting instead of fixing. Playful instead of wild.

    The new me emerges and I enjoy observing the difference.

    1. Susan Tate Post author

      Thank you, Karen, for sharing your well-articulated thoughts! “Accepting instead of fixing” — oh yes!!!

  2. Joanne

    Susan, I read this with mixed emotions. I still vividly remember your Dad taking the boys, particularly Rob down to the yard in Conway. He can still tell me the number of the engine he was on. He turns 50 today, Mar 1, so you know how much he loved being with your Dad when he still so fondly remembers him. I have a sadness when I imagined your thoughts when he would say he first mentioned the boxcar with wings. I also share your feelings with the letting go and asking more questions, to his delight! Dad had such a hard time when Mother was no longer herself following her stroke. I began to laugh with her at the things she would say. She too would laugh, and before long, Dad laughed with us! This enabled him to share the very best of himself for those long 5 1/2 years. He told me many times how much he enjoyed taking care of her. This from man who never made a sandwich prior to that! Love is kind! Love you!

    1. Susan Tate Post author

      Thank you, Joanne for your loving comments and for the loving memories of my Dad. I feel grateful that I learned to “meet him where he was” rather than attempting to bring him “back” to where I thought he should be. Love IS kind, you are right! Love flowing back to you.

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