The Cycle of Creation and Destruction
Letting go, or releasing, is part of the cycle of creation and destruction. All creation requires destruction. Every decision kills off options; that’s what it means to decide.
If you want to move forward, you must be willing to let go.
Part of the process of writing is editing.
In comedy writing, I create a stronger set by letting go of jokes and lines that I like, but which don’t get laughs.
The decision about what to eat for dinner destroys other options.
Even a small change to your life or business involves destruction of an old way of operating. It requires letting go of how you did it before.
We often understand this concept cognitively. We know that if we don’t let go, we will feel stuck and unable to move forward.
And yet we often feel stuck. Why?
Because we don’t fully let go.
Letting Go Is Not Enough
Letting go requires more than saying you’re letting go. To fully let go, we must embrace something more taboo in our culture than destruction: grief.
If you’re going to fully let go, you must fully mourn your loss.
That can be difficult because many of us don’t like to admit we had a loss.
Here’s the thing: there is always a loss.
Part of the process of letting go is to acknowledge and feel the emotions of the loss.
Acknowledge: What is the loss?
The loss is whatever was destroyed. It doesn’t have to feel like a big loss to be a loss.
It might be the joke you threw out of your stand-up comedy set, the paragraph you deleted from a blog post, the chapter you cut from your book, the restaurant you didn’t choose.
You might make a change in your business by hiring an assistant or creating a team, which leads to a loss of control or autonomy.
Your loss might be a relationship, a community, your status.
It might be a possibility or opportunity that you didn’t pursue, a goal you didn’t reach, a vision that didn’t pan out, or an expectation that didn’t become reality.
In a big life change, we often have many layers of loss.
Moving On (a case study)
This week, after a long journey that began with a plan I devised three years ago, I signed a contract to sell my apartment. I’ve lived here for 13 years — longer than I’ve lived anywhere else, including my childhood home.
The process of selling a home has a lot of moments of letting go.
Beyond letting go of the obvious material things like the possessions I eliminated in my decluttering process last summer of releasing my home itself, I’ve had to release expectations about the value of my home and how long the process would take. I’ve had to release my attachment to the outcome.
The biggest thing I had to release was the vision I had for my life back when I first bought this apartment.
When I bought my apartment, I was turning 30. I expected that I would live in this apartment for maybe 5 years before getting married and moving on.
That’s not how my life played out. I am moving on not because the physical space is too small for me, but because the energy is no longer aligned for me. Because it’s time. Because I have a new vision for my life.
I created this plan three years ago. And even though I have many compelling reasons to move, and I have sat with my emotions at each stage of the process, I realized that there was a piece of me that was still holding onto that original vision.
Deep within, I found the belief that I had failed because I am selling my apartment for a reason other than getting married and moving in with someone.
I had to acknowledge that loss so I could grieve the life I once thought I would create in this home. Otherwise I would continue to be stuck in the energy of failure and blame. (More on how to process this in a separate article).
There is Always A Loss
Many people try to bypass the loss by saying “I no longer wanted that other thing.” This doesn’t work.
When we replace an old vision with a new vision, we experience a loss of the old vision. It doesn’t matter that you no longer want the old vision; it’s still a loss.
When you end a relationship, you experience a loss, even if that relationship was abusive and you wanted out of it.
Even when you are creating something that you perceive to be better, we experience a loss.
We must acknowledge this loss. This is important.
Unless and until we acknowledge the loss that results from our act of creation, the energy of what we lost will continue to be in our field. It will hold us back from realizing our full potential.
That’s what keeps us stuck.