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Rev. Sandra Schubert

Letting Go
by Sandra Lee Schubert

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar” --Thich Nhat Hanh.

People stay in dead end jobs, loveless marriages never leaving the boundaries of their hometowns. Why is it so hard to let go of things that no longer work? The devil you know is better then the one you don’t know. People are willing to live a mediocre life for the safety it provides. But what if you were guaranteed a positive outcome how would you live your life differently? What kind of choices would you make knowing each one would turn out OK? If you can imagine this different life then envision another a life where you are still free to make choices but are unsure of the outcome. Except now you accept the consequences of your choices knowing they could be either bad or good. In this life you feel fear but take chances anyway. Every day we make a choice. You want to lose weight but eat ice cream. You buy a new sweater knowing the money could go towards paying off a painful debt. Today’s choices may seem wrong but tomorrow is the opportunity for new ones. Choosing means letting go of the other possibility and what it could bring. ION’s president, James O’Dea in the September-November edition of Shift magazine says this about choice, “Each step has consequences that will secure the status quo, create a new roadmap, or possibly transform old ways in a manner that defies our rational understanding.”

The harder you fight to hold on to specific assumptions, the more likely there's gold in letting go of them. --John Seely Brown, Fast Company

Assumptions: We have assumptions about everything. We live and die by them. My friends and I have had heated conversations about the current political arena. Who hasn’t? We stand strong in our various viewpoints. What surprised me most was one friend. He did not know some really basic facts about the candidate he was opposed to. When asked, he said he didn’t care to know anything. Yet, he had made some profound judgments about this person with the slimmest of knowledge gleaned from only hearing just one point of view. Challenge your assumptions. We go through life and never reevaluate what we believe. The great spiritual leaders ask us to leave the life we are living behind and enter into a new one. Our modern leaders such as Gandhi or Mother Theresa did just that and devoted themselves to living a new and much more expansive existence. They were able to increase the circumference of what they previously knew to include the world and in doing so changed the lives of many, many people. Give up your old ways and take on new experiences. Reconsider your values and find out if they support you morally and soulfully.

Some think it's holding on that makes one strong; sometimes it's letting go. --Sylvia Robinson

Letting Go:

I have been thinking a lot about letting go. In fact it has been forced upon me. In the past months I have broken many of my treasured and sentimental possessions. My wallet was stolen, money, ID and photos all gone into the hands of stranger. Projects I had hoped to initiate evaporated overnight. I asked a trusted friend and medium what was going on. He told me I wanted to change my life. But my frustration was in my own inability to make these changes. I was literally breaking my ties with the past in dramatic fashion. This string of little losses has added up to a big rethink about how I am living my life. Loss tears something loose. It breaks us open in excruciating ways. Yet it allows for new things to rush in. How do we let go? First, acknowledge the pain of letting go. Loss of any kind can hurt and there is no getting around it. Allow time to adjust to the change. In most situations we cannot control losses. I cannot will my wallet back into my hands. But how we react to change is in our control. My small losses pointed to larger issues of loss in my life. Take inventory. What is holding you back? Are there areas in your life that you want to change but may be resisting? List the pros and cons of each change. Acknowledge any feelings you may have around letting go. Though some losses are thrust upon us letting go can be something we choose to do.

Choice: What kind of life do you want to live? Every minute we make small choices. Reconsider how you interact with people on a daily basis. Instead of ignoring the person who hands you the newspaper each day say hello and thank you. When faced with the choice between potato chips or salad consider what has the most value for your life. Again O’Dea says this, “We can increase our inner strength to make critical choices for ourselves and for the planet by refraining from cluttering up our lives with too much superficial choice.” When there is a strong value system in place it becomes easier to let go of things that don’t support your higher ideals. In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin outlined a very specific formula for creating a value system of life changes that anyone can emulate. He listed 13 virtues from #1. Temperance - eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation to #13. Humility - Imitate Jesus and Socrates. Franklin creates a chart for each day of the week listing by initials the 13 virtues he has outlined for himself. Each day he would do a careful examination of his life and puts a mark next to the virtue when he has found fault with himself. He then committed one week to a mastery of each virtue, repeating the process at least fours time in a year. He would add or subtract to this list as needed. This formula allowed Benjamin Franklin to work consistently on his life not in an obsessive way but in a constructed manner. From this careful examination of his life Franklin was able to establish a value system for how he lived his life. Thus allowing him to make choices and to let go of behaviors and things that did not support this system. The result for Franklin and for us is a life full of wonderful inventions and creativity.

What comes after letting go? Loss affords us the opportunity for new choices. We can mourn the past and celebrate the future. Letting go is the gateway to new experiences. Medical breakthroughs, new thoughts, ideals and art could not be made if we all hung on to our past behavior and beliefs. Dare to live your life just a tenth larger then you are living it now. Be brave enough to let go of a bad habit, an old resentment or your old self. We can honor that which brought us to this point and still create a new future. Celebrate possibility and let go into a new world.

Choice & Consequence by James O’Dea - This article appears in the September - November issue of Shift: At The Frontiers of Consciousness, published quarterly by the Institute of Noetic Sciences.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (Dover Thrift Editions)
by Benjamin Franklin is available online at Amazon.com

© Copyright 2004 Rev. Sandra Lee Schubert.  All Rights Reserved. 

Rev. Sandra Lee Schubert
Sandra Lee Schubert
s a creative vagabond, a poet, writer and dabbler in the arts. She co-facilitates the Wild Angels Poets and Writers group at the historic Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine.  She is also the creator of the e-course Writing for Life: Creating a Story of Your Own.  Visit her blog: www.writing4life.com



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