Letting it go

Letting it go


My eldest brother and my second brother were in the timber business together more than 50 years ago in Singapore. They used to import logs into Singapore from neighbouring countries. Unfortunately, the business went pear-shaped. My second brother blames my eldest brother till today. He has not learned to let go of the past. Because of that, there’s no possibility of reconciliation and new life. I feel sad and angry for both of them.

Let it Go

I like Leunig’s poems and cartoons. Unfortunately, he was axed from his prized position in The Age over an image comparing resistance to mandatory vaccination to the fight for democracy in Tiananmen Square. But I still enjoy his poems and cartoons, in particular ‘Let it Go’. The irony is some Australians can’t let it go!
I like this simple poem, ‘Let it Go’.
Let it go
Let it out
Let it all unravel
Let it free
And it shall be
A path on which to travel.
Do you know that this poem has been turned into a song? Tap on this link and you can hear the song: https://soundcloud.com/quoirchoir/let-it-go-by-michael-leunig-and-suzann-frisk-all-parts
Letting Go is Easier Said Than Done
I am not for a minute suggesting that ‘letting it go’ is easy. But it is possibly one of the best things to happen to you if you can. No matter how difficult it seems in the beginning, it is truly for the best.

Letting go can mean different things to different people. It can include anything, from letting go of a place, a person, a situation, a friendship, a marriage, or something you held close to your heart.
Take an example close to my heart.

Marriages end because of various reasons. We can hold on to the last thread hoping it works, but when it ends – it ends. So, when we hold on to that broken marriage, the memories vividly repeat in our heads. We wonder about the whys constantly, and we find great difficulty in letting go.

We know marriages can end both ways – on a good note or a bad note. Truth is it doesn’t matter because honestly all that matters is it ENDS. It’s heartbreaking, it’s going to take a while to process the hurt and grief but eventually, as you give yourself the freedom to feel things again, you’ll replace that feeling with something better. Then you can begin to process what went wrong. You’ll understand why things didn’t work out. You’ll start questioning why you accepted certain things or just why you didn’t love yourself enough. And all this will make you dig deeper. Even with relapses you’ll get through it. Because when you let go, you protect yourself and you do recognise that previously, you were settling for much less than what you deserved. And that’s why it was time to end it then and let go.

Letting Go of the Past
Again, I know letting go of the past isn’t easy. Why do we refuse to learn how to let go of the past? Why is it so difficult to let go of experiences that have caused us pain and suffering?
Letting go of the past is not easy, particularly if a person has experienced emotional pain that is unresolved.

Become Baggage
For me, the art of Letting Go is about deciding to stop making the same mistakes and choosing to take a different path. It has been said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I agree.
When we hold onto things that weigh us down, that negativity turns into baggage. The more baggage you have, the more it clouds your view and the more you feel like carrying that baggage around is the only way to live. Your baggage-cluttered perspective becomes the viewpoint from which you see the world.
But how can you have a positive outlook when all you see is negativity? The truth is you can’t. That is precisely why we must learn what to hold onto and what to let go of. When that happens, your momentum increases, you feel lighter and, most of all, you know your worth. Learn to let go or it can become baggage we drag into the future.
Of the many books I have read about letting go, I found David Hawkins’s book, “Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender” most helpful. The rest of the article is based on concepts gleaned from his book.

Allow Yourself to Feel
The first step to letting go is to allow yourself to have the feeling without resisting it, venting it, fearing it condemning it or moralizing about it. See that it is just a feeling. Surrender all efforts to modify it in any way. Resisting the feeling perpetuates it. If you resist it, the feeling will grow because you are giving energy to it. If you don’t resist it, the feeling will eventually shift to the next lighter feeling.

Everything’s Okay
All negative feelings are associated with basic fears related to survival, and all feelings are survival programs that the mind runs on. Letting go allows you to unplug from the program. Letting go means to surrender and surrendering means to have no strong emotion about a thing. “It’s okay if it happens, and it’s okay if it doesn’t.” This detachment technique is freedom. Dependence on things outside of you diminishes because it’s not what you need for your happiness.
If you surrender a feeling and it returns or continues, there is more that needs to be surrendered. Suppressed feelings contain a lot of energy and sometimes it takes time to let all that energy go.

The Feeling of Surrender
Signs of surrender are feelings of lightness and happiness. Freedom doesn’t have to be fleeting if you continue the practice of letting go. You’ll realize you are not your feelings, but the observer of them. You are no longer a prisoner to them. Negative emotions are created by the ego which wants to stay plugged into the survival program, and when the ego feels threatened, it attaches to external circumstances and thoughts related to them.

How Do You Know You’ve Let It Go?
When you fully surrender something, it disappears from consciousness. You recognize you’ve released it through people or events reminding you of the change. You don’t even think about it anymore because you are concerned with the new/current issue at hand.

Make It a Practice to Consistently Let Go
Your use of emotions is how you determine when it’s time to let go of something in your life. When you become aware of these emotions that come up regularly, it’s time to let go of that emotion and what it’s attached to, Pride, Anger, Desire, Fear, Grief, Apathy, Guilt and Shame.
Know when something ‘just isn’t working’ anymore and remind yourself what you were like before you started the process.

Learn to Relinquish
I like the word ‘relinquish’. To relinquish is to give up (a task, struggle, etc); abandon, to surrender or renounce (a claim, right, etc) or to release; to let go.
So, to let go is to learn to relinquish. Over the years I have learned to relinquish, to give up the need to control. But you and I know letting go of control is hard. We all like to be in control. We like to control.
In times of uncertainty, people feel safer when they have a sense of control. This often leads to attempts to control outcomes, situations, others’ reactions, or the environment. The more uncertain the situation, the more people cling to attempts to control. The fact is that we cannot control external events and outcomes.
Letting go is scary. Letting go means letting go of control. No one wants to be out of control. But you can’t control everything.
Once we recognise, we cannot control external events, our energies can be directed elsewhere. We can focus on the only thing we do have control over, our responses, our mindset, our attitude, and our outlook.

Following Jesus
Following Jesus is about our willingness to relinquish and let go. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26)

By the time you read this reflection, Lent is over. For me, Lent is about relinquishment. It confronts us with our mortality, our vulnerability, and our comforts. It confronts us with how seriously we will follow Jesus into the future. What are we prepared to give up or let go to follow him?

“Now when Jesus saw a great crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. A scribe then approached and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:18-22)
There is a cost to discipleship. To follow Jesus may mean the willingness to let go of stuff that we hold dear or cling to. Jesus said, “Follow me.” Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.” (Luke 5:27) I am aware that this is not a popular idea nowadays. Discipleship involves letting go and leaving behind. The call to follow Jesus is a call to a new life, a new way of seeing things, and a new way of connecting with others. And this involves letting go of the ‘old’.
The late German pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, coined the phrase ‘cheap grace’ in his famous book The Cost of Discipleship. Bonhoeffer describes cheap grace as a grace that requires no repentance, no sacrifice and ultimately no cross.

I like Leunig’s idea that if we are willing to ‘let it go, let it out, let it all unravel, let it free, it can be a path on which to travel’. If you look at the cartoon you see the ribbon coming out from his head. It represents his thought, of being let go and allowed to be free. They are said to ‘dance around his head’ and pave a road for the protagonist to follow.

A Prayer for Letting Go by Jackie Trottmann
Dear God,
In this moment, I let go of all thoughts and concerns.

When I let go, I am able to receive.
When my hands are formed into tight fists,
I cannot open my hands to receive anything.

When I hang onto tight control,
When I close off my heart and my spirit,
I cannot receive your blessings for me.
I let go to receive your blessings.

Letting go in this moment,
I receive your loving presence around me and within me.
Help me to let go when I am feeling overwhelmed,
so that I may receive your peace.

Help me to let go when I feel fear
so that in fear’s place
I may receive love and courage.

I let go of problems and challenges
to receive your guidance and clarity.

I let go and trust you.
I will not fall.
You will catch me.

I let go and trust in the still,
small voice inside of me.

Help me not to struggle
but to surrender my struggle to you.

I gladly receive this gift of letting go
and letting you lead me and guide me.
Swee Ann Koh