LETTING GO VERSUS GIVING UP
“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond winning.”
“But whatever happened to persistence, perseverance. Tenacity, or just plain CARING a lot? How do you stop caring??!?”
Today’s blog is inspired by yesterday’s affirmation and the above response we got from it.
It’s a question, a concept, sometimes a conundrum. It’s one I find myself facing all the time.
If I let go does that mean I am giving up? Giving in? Throwing in the towel? Being lazy? Acting from fear, paranoia, exhaustion or malaise?
What exactly does letting go mean?
What is the real difference between letting go and “tenacity, plain caring” – as our reader points out?
After years of trying to let go, failing at times, wondering what were my motives, my goals, my incentives, I have reached a few conclusions.
I think we must start with consistently misquoted phrase,
“God Helps Those Who Help Themselves.”
Despite popular opinion, this sentiment does not derive from The Bible. It might come from ancient Greek proverb, some attribute it to Benjamin Franklin. Truth is it doesn’t really matter, the meaning stays the same, no one is going to drop anything in your lap.
Good things can happen to you, but you have to get up off your butt and work for them. It’s not enough to believe you will be a rollicking success but devote your days, to staying home and watching old episodes of Extreme Home Makeover, thinking that someone will sweep in and give you a complete home makeover, just because you want one.
Another favorite quote – which can be traced to the poet Robert Lowell, is
“Fate loves the fearless.”
I prefer it because it ratchets up the stakes a few notches. It takes on fear, one of the greatest obstacles people have in going out there and trying to make it happen for themselves.
So going back to the question, what is the difference between letting go and going the course?
I think it can be reduced to a very simple concept, “persistence, perseverance and caring are actions.” They are positive actions. We keep on working towards a goal no matter what kind of obstacles we may come up against.
We dream, we set a course and we try and stick to it. To quote the late Randy Paucsh,
“The walls aren’t there to keep us out, but to show us how badly we want in.”
You get very little in life without working for it.
So not throwing in the proverbial towel when things don’t go our way is crucial to achieving anything. Life is full of complications. Moving forward is essential. It’s action. Life is about forward momentum.
If we want to clean up our act, be productive in the workplace, have connected, life-sustaining relationships with others, including ourselves we must trundle forth despite many set-backs.
Perseverance is not letting them get you down. It’s belief in yourself and your abilities. It’s one of the most important traits we can have.
Letting go is not an action it’s a mind-set. It’s not like holding on to a rope and then dropping it. It’s more like releasing an inner tension. It’s holding on to concept of how things should be as opposed to how they are. It’s thinking you can control everything in this moment. In fact its not living in the moment, it’s living in the future. The future of either “what if’s” or if onlys.”
At its core, letting go is having faith. Having faith that you don’t have to pull and push and cajole and scream for the universe to hear you.
It’s trust. It’s trusting that if you do the right thing, think the right thoughts, do your work well, take care of others, give back, care, always care, caring is essential, things will work out OK.
They will work out the way they are supposed to. Which is not always the way we want. But that is part of letting go. Sometimes we have to let people go. We have to let them find their way. Sometimes loving them and caring about them does not work, they can’t let it in. They, themselves have to get to the point where they can accept it. Again, it does not mean we stop caring, sometimes we have to walk away, stop forcing the issue. In those moments letting go is an action. It’s not a declaration of defeat. Though it sometimes feels that way. It’s just a release. It’s saying I will let you go. I will let you figure things out for yourself. I will be here, caring if you decide to come back, if you decide to fix the places I cannot fix for you.
Sometimes that means while you care, you could wind up caring more for someone else. In letting go, we sometimes find what we were holding on to, was not at all what we wanted, be it a person, a job or a way of being in the world.
In those cases letting go is an action of freedom. We are allowing ourselves the freedom to find something else, or for something else to find us.
It’s not one size fits all; as everyone is dealing with different issues. Different relationships, different dreams.
But in the end it boils down to gratitude and trust; Grateful for the moment. Trusting in the future. That is the very essence of letting go.