Embracing the Discomfort of Letting Go

I’m travelling back home with my family, after celebrating Christmas with loved ones, for a few days in England. As we speed along the highway, I notice how nearly all of the trees by the side of the road have long lost all of their leaves.

They now stand tall and open, their bare branches stretching out starkly against the grey backdrop of the late afternoon winter sky.

As we drive, I notice that just a few of the trees here and there, still have some clumps of darkened - almost black - leaves in their boughs. Seemingly still holding on, not quite having let go of all their old autumn foliage.

And noticing this as we journey on, brings me to consider the theme of ‘letting go’. Of transitioning from the old to the new: From one season to the next, one year to the next, one phase or circumstance in our lives or work to the next.

For years, I thought that I wasn’t any good at ‘letting go’ of things.

When something felt bad or was no longer working, friends or colleagues would often say to me “just let it go!”. But whatever ‘it’ was, often involved some kind of difficult emotion for me - may be frustration, sorrow or regret - and how was I supposed to “just let go” of that? It felt forced, and I didn’t know how. I figured that I simply was not wired for “just letting go”. 

Until a few years on, through the leadership and coaching work I do in Transformational Presence, I came to realise that 'letting go' is actually all about a transition or a passage from the old and dying to the something new that wants to emerge. It’s a perfectly natural transformation process in which I don’t need to ‘force’ anything.

That’s not to say it’s always easy. It can be uncomfortable and difficult. And sometimes, though not always, it takes time. It is about embracing the discomfort, and transforming the relationship I have with whatever it is I wish to let go of. Transforming my thoughts, beliefs and feelings towards that ‘thing’.

I understand now that everything is either growing or dying - expanding or contracting.

Be it a relationship, a business, a project or an idea. Nothing stays the same. Everything is in constant motion, and part of a larger process unfolding. It's a cliché, but change really is the only constant. 

So it makes no sense to hold on to something that is falling away, breaking open or wants to pass. It is senseless to try and return to how things were. That's backwards energy. 

It's often confusing and painful to experience something dying away. It's sad and may be scary to let it pass. But the power lies in being with the frustration, pain, sadness, fear. Accepting it. Listening to it's message. Letting it show you what you have to learn. And letting the uncomfortable feelings pass through you. Becoming comfortable in the discomfort of transition.

And in being with it, you can then turn your face to the fresh shoots and seedlings of new opportunity and growth that are emerging from the change. From that which is falling away. Allow one door to close, and another door will then open. One you may not yet have seen coming. When something dies away or falls away it leaves space and a fertile environment for something new to emerge.

Embracing the discomfort as a normal part of the process, and engaging and working with your feelings - instead of trying to force a process of ‘letting go’ - enables you to learn and grow.

It frees you up in time, to focus your awareness on cultivating the new that wants to emerge. That's forwards energy. And to me, this feels far more natural. I am wired to live and work this way!

If you are interested in a simple yet powerful Transformational Presence (self-)coaching practice that you can use to work with and transform the way you feel about a specific problem, challenge or difficult situation - helping you to move forward - then click here to download my 7 minute audio recording of an exercise developed by Alan Seale; writer, speaker, international coach and founder of the Center for Transformational Presence. Remember please, it is not a magic bullet, it is a practice! :-)

And if you are interested to know more about practically applying this or any other Transformational Presence framework or program in your personal leadership, and/ or with your team or organisation then do let me know!

Contact Jo

Download exercise (7 minute audio)

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