Letting go: Freeing your mind in the face of the unknown!

I understand now; I can’t always control external events, but I can control how I deal with them.

This was the conclusion a manager came to at the end of a coaching session a few years ago which aimed to help him to —finally— let go.

Have you been wondering lately of how to let go?

Have you already set aside some time, like this manager client, to embark on an inward journey and face unexpected challenges in order to do so?
If so, you have made the right choice, it is a journey well worth embarking on, both from a personal and professional perspective!
Not yet? It is never too late to start calling yourself into question and begin the adventure!

1st step of the journey: Preparation (reconnect with yourself)

A successful journey requires preparation.

Your best travel companion is yourself!

But first, you need to take a break: your best allies are isolation and switching off (especially from devices).

Block some time in your schedule.
To be fully aware of yourself and the present moment, you could isolate yourself and do some deep-breathing exercises (abdominal breathing) for 3 to 5 minutes. Focus on your breathing to empty your mind.

Do you feel more relaxed and ready?

To start with, ask yourself the simple question: "what does ‘letting go’ mean for me?"

The answer will be different for everyone.

Forget about the definition in the dictionary and magazines!

Be careful not to make (narrow) assumptions such as “letting go” means adopting an “I don’t care” approach, etc.

Trust your instincts!

What images initially spring to mind?

If letting go was a colour and/or smell, what would they be?

What emotions do you feel (fear, happiness, anger, sadness, etc.)?

In what areas of your life (professional and personal) do you think it would be appropriate to let go?

What are you aiming to achieve (inner peace, taking a step back from difficult situations, being less controlling over yourself and/or others, etc.)?

What would you gain from not letting go?

2nd step: Pack your bags

Now you need to choose the things that will be useful on your journey.

What about courage and humility?

You will definitely need courage to face the unknown.

Humility will enable you to take a step back from yourself and situations.

3rd step: Leave your comfort zone

Up until now, did you feel comfortable taking actions and being in control?

If you are a manager, this could mean you tend to control your employees’ work schedule (especially in the current context of remote working) or the result of their work (micromanagement).

But now, you have decided to leave this comfort zone.

Answer the following questions objectively:

"In situations when I have not let go in the past, what were the consequences for me and my colleagues/friends/family?"

"What would be the positive and negative consequences in the medium and long term for me and my colleagues/friends/family if I continue in this way?"

If you cannot find any motivation here for leaving your comfort zone, you might as well stay put! You cannot teach a blind man to see, as they say…

However, if you are curious to go further, let begin the journey!

4th step: Listen to your feelings

This is it! You are on the road to the unknown and about to discover the world of letting go.

How do you feel?
Your feelings can manifest themselves physically and can help to you change. Listen to them!
Do you have butterflies, a lump in your throat, are feeling lightheaded, etc.?

Maybe you feel scared ?

Or excited by the challenge of leaving a world of obligations and narrow beliefs, that you (and/or others) have been inflicting on yourselves (“be perfect”, “be strong”, “please others”, etc.)!

You might feel guilty ?

This is also normal. Don’t be afraid to admit your feelings.

After all, this might be the moment to integrate new, more positive beliefs (like “I cannot please everyone”, “I can say no if it really doesn’t suit me”, or “I can trust my employees”, etc.).

5th step: Face your inner struggle

This can be an intense and tough inner journey. It is not easy to let go!

It would be so much easier to “go back” to where you feel “safe”… What on earth were you thinking?

It is natural to have a moment of doubt and want to resist when changes are taking place within and around you.

You will certainly notice that people see you differently too.

Maybe you don’t see the familiar signs of recognition?
Let yourself go, you will soon see.
Safe? Comfortable? Yet another firm belief…

After all, in view of your new experience, is the future more certain when you are in a “safe” place?
Who is depending on you? And others?

6th step: Freedom for you and others

You have overcome your inner struggle. You have forced yourself to let go. Go back on how you got here and assess the new freedom you have found and offered others.

You have left your toxic thoughts behind you and your relationship with certain people has probably changed.

How much autonomy, trust and recognition will you give them

What will you give them?

7th step: What you have learnt

You’ve made it! Well done!!!!!

You have gone a long way and managed to overcome the challenge—maybe in part—of letting go.

Now it’s time to celebrate what you have learnt now that you are back – a changed person – in your new “home”.

What have you learnt: About yourself? About others?

What do you still need to integrate?

Do you need some external help?

What do you think of the unknown?

How do you see external events and your approach to them now?

Like our manager, accepting that you cannot control everything and facing uncertainty with the calm of someone who has already been on this journey is a magical source of energy to face the unknown on the road to wellbeing. As the saying goes: “A wise manager starts with themselves”.
So, when are you going to start your journey?

Note from the author: article loosely based on “The Hero’s Journey” by Joseph Campbell.