Embracing the Turbulence

The Challenge of Letting Go / CACtackk.05

Last week I wrote about the importance of having HORIZONS in our lives to inspire us to pursue the full potential of our ideas and ourselves. What I failed to point out in that post is how frequently pursuing a new horizon requires letting go of an existing reality. And how hard that letting go can be.

Those of us who've been through various forms of loss — divorce, business failure, family dysfunction, personal disorders (just to name a few of my own) — realize that while the concept of letting go is pretty easy to grasp in principle, it's often much more difficult to embrace in practice. As my 20-year old daughter Julia likes to say, "Just because I GET it, doesn't mean it's easy to do it." In fact, even when a transition comes gift-wrapped as a gain — job promotions, college graduations & new geographies come to mind — there is still a small loss buried in there that makes letting go difficult. Consider the fact that even new parents feel a sense of personal loss as they gain arguably life's greatest gift — a new child.

So how can we go from abstract understanding to literal implementation? One simple technique for helping us progress beyond rationally knowing we need to let go to actually doing it is seeking a higher perspective on our situation.

I was reminded of this fact last night as I traveled home to Ohio from the east coast, and watched an array of lightning storms in the clouds just below our airplane.

These lightning storms, so quiet and beautiful from above, were actually fierce enough that at a slightly lower altitude they had literally grounded most of the commercial aircraft in the NYC to Ohio corridor. By contrast, at 35,000+ feet we felt some turbulence, but our heightened perspective changed our entire experience of this weather phenomenon. And this same notion holds true for managing loss and learning to let go. Yes, there are emotional forces in play that are so overwhelming that if we aren't careful we can literally be grounded by them. But, if instead, we climb just a bit higher, above the physical force of the emotional storm itself, we will be able to see both the horizon and the forces that stand in our way. And from this new vantage point we can actually begin to master the art of letting go — by acknowledging (or maybe even embracing) the turbulence we feel, while keeping an eye on that which has inspired our journey forward in the first place.

So the next time your desire to move ahead is blocked by the difficult act of letting go of something in the present — something you love, or fear, or regret, or have always needed — just remember the power of perspective to lift you to a safer altitude. Then, from that new found perch perhaps you can acknowledge both the power of your feelings, and your power to overcome them.