Taking a Leap: The Challenge of Letting Go

The sky is immense, spreading around me in all directions. I know this land in my bones, the familiar angle of the sun as it brushes the roofs at the end of the day and the wind whirling dust or snow depending on the season.

I think about leaving here over 2 decades ago and what gets stirred in me when I visit. Memories. Belonging. Changes. Who I was back then. Dreams. Hopes. Fears. Who I am now.

I am considering what it means to let go. For every change I have had in my life, what it means is letting go of something.

I had to leave behind those vast prairie skies to live in the mountains and by the ocean.

I hear people miserable in their work, knowing that for their own well being they have to make a change.  They can’t leave they tell me. A mortgage. A benefits plan. A pension. Wherever will they get the wages they have now?

How do you make the leap?

In the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, to save his father Indy passes several trials and then comes across a chasm too wide to cross by the regular means (that multi-use whip). What he understands is he is required to take a leap of faith.

What is true of every hero on the journey is a point where there is a risk. What the risk involves is letting go of where they are to allow them to get where they want to be.

In Indy’s case, it was the path with its steady ground. 

For those who are wanting to have a life they love, it will require a leap of faith. And leaving behind the safety and comfort that may have taken a long time to build.

I am not talking about the idea of taking risks that put your life in jeopardy or to throw away all that you have accumulated.

What I remember about Indiana Jones is that he studied the legends and folklore, the clues and maps. His decision to step into the abyss was from a deep understanding of the journey.

When I think of finding work that matters, risk is involved. Like Indy, the idea is to be calculated about it. You don’t know exactly what is going to happen but you are clear about what you want.

What always is true is that something is left behind. And that means letting go.

This is a journey we all encounter. We let go of ideas of how we should be, and then how we want to be, and what we wish could be. 

Some ideas are easier to let go of than others.

What is also true is that letting go is not about telling yourself that you need to let go and then it happens. The process is complex, extending beyond an intellectual level to emotional, spiritual and psychological.

What you may encounter along the way is:

Tapping into a belief

Core beliefs especially those limiting ones appear during times of change. For example, you may be considering quitting your job and then fears about financial security arise. As you explore this, you may find there is a core belief about poverty. The challenge here is to work with the fear, not to let it take over.

Thinking you have let go but then maybe not. 

In the process of letting go, you will find many layers. During a conversation with someone, you may talk about how logical it is for you to quit your job – you may have outgrown the position or you know you are capable of so much more. Then you notice that emotionally, you are grieving the idea that you were in a job that never was what it was supposed to be; now that you are quitting, that dream has died.

You expect yourself to be in a place you are not.

As you navigate a decision, perhaps, to move on with your life, you are expecting to be excited about new possibilities but you also find yourself feeling entirely different. With letting go, it is imperative to be kind and gentle with yourself.

Resistance to letting go. 

You may find yourself not wanting to let go; there is familiarity in the past. Standing on the precipice like Indiana Jones is unsettling. When I am caught in resistance, I remember this quote:

A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.—J. A. Shedd.