Have you ever finished a project, was just about to share it, then realized, “Hold on—I have to change something?”
That’s this blog.
I just returned from a trip to Hawaii. Included with all the things I love about Hawaii was something self-generated that I didn’t love.
My ITG (Insane Thought Generator) conspired with my ISG (Insane Story Generator) to create a narrative that I didn’t just attach to—I sunk for my teeth into it! For 72 hours that narrative overrode the beauty of one my favorite places on earth.
And that’s when I thought of a recent conversation where someone asked, “What superhero power would you like to have?” (I later learned that’s a common question in job interviews, although it’s one I’ve never encountered. Now you know—and you’ll be prepared!) I thought about the question for a moment before answering: “I wish I had the ability to instantly let go.”
Turns out, my answer is not a common one. A survey posed that question to 2,000 people, and the top three answers were invisibility, being able to fly, and time travel. While all of those are awesome, being able to let go instantly would be gratifying. Imagine all the things we would have time for—and imagine how much more gratifying my trip to Hawaii would have been!
How do I define letting go?
I love the literal definition of “letting go,” which is “to relinquish one’s grip” on a situation. Of course, for it to be a superpower, the grip we need to give up is our thinking about the situation. As Eckhart Tolle noted:
“The biggest thing we need to let go of is our thinking. We over-identify with it.”
Typically, the thing we’re holding onto is our thinking about the past or our thinking about a future, negative forecast. My negative forecasts are almost always connected to fear: fear of what others think, fear I’m doing something wrong, fear I’m not enough, or fear I’m going to lose what I have. A little bit of fear can be helpful as it forces our brain to eliminate unneeded information. However, when we’re gripped with obsessive or negative thinking fear quickly becomes the single biggest inhibitor of #JustGSD.
Here Are Three Things I Do That You Can Do,Too
I became a coach because I get fired up helping people develop techniques to let go of what’s no longer useful—especially fear—and unleash action. I’ve been there; I know how paralyzing living in fear can be. I also know the visceral thrill of getting through those fears and finding limitless, positive possibilities that await on the other side.
Below are three of my favorite techniques I used last week to let go. The next time your ISG ‘recommends’ a story—and you begin reading it—give these a try.
1. Hit the pause button. As simple as this may sound, this first step is usually the most difficult. When I’m able to hit the pause button and pull up, I can let go of the story or situation and simply observe it. When I’m able to become a spectator to my thoughts—even if for just a moment—I’m able to remove the emotional aspect for a more objective point of view.
2. Trust the process. When I focus too much on the outcome—what the outcome will be, when it will happen, etc.—I forget one of the basic tenets of transformative change: do the work, and trust the process. As I write this I’m reminded of something I recently heard that’s incredibly helpful in these situations: “I live by the NATO principle—Not Attached to Outcomes.”
3. Unlock curiosity. One of the other challenges with holding on too tight? It inhibits my curiosity. By its very nature, being curious is an active rather than a reactive state. Being curious last week brought me back into the present moment where I was able to view the situation from multiple angles and perspectives. That, in turn, put me in a position to make more optimal decisions.
Why Everyone Should Develop Their ‘Letting Go’ Superpower
The greatest benefit of letting go is coming back into the present moment to access our strengths—and to return to the two things we actually do have control over: our attitude and our actions.
By letting go, I find—and take advantage of—tailwinds which allow me to uncomplicate the problem and find optimal solutions. I connect with others because I’m less fearful of the situation. I get back into action.
More importantly, life is more interesting! Over the last five years every time I’ve let go I’ve experienced a significant personal or professional expansion. I’ve also become a much better friend to myself in the process.
If you’re looking for other tips to become more fully present, be sure to check out my recent blog Be Curious. And if you’re looking for tips to help you get—and stay—in action for transformative change, be sure to check out my Six Essentials for GSD.