Letting Go

Oct 1, 2022 | Encouragement

Sometimes I feel like a trapeze artist who has the potential to do beautiful, athletic somersaults in the air but can’t let go of the trapeze. My partner is waiting for me, calling me, but I just keep swinging back and forth, going nowhere.

A common theme in all motivational speeches and psychology is letting go of those things that are holding us back. It seems like a no-brainer that should be easy. It’s like the man who went to the doctor, raised his arm in the air and said, “Doc, it hurts when I do this.” The doctor said, “Don’t do that anymore.”

There are some deep truths in that silly little story. The patient knew what was causing his pain. I don’t always see the cause of my pain that clearly. How about you?

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What we are, compared to what we could be, is like comparing the waves on top of the ocean to the ocean’s mighty depths.”

Our problem is that we spend too much time on the top of the ocean being tossed around by the waves of life. We’ll never discover what’s holding us back until we go beneath the surface of our life and do the inner work to know ourself. One of the things holding many of us back is our resistance to doing that inner work. Our minds are wild and unruly places where we don’t want to go in the middle of the night. We prefer to remain on the surface, responding to life instead of living it with all of its triumphs and tragedies.

Maybe we need a 12-step program to free ourselves from what Richard Rohr calls our addiction to “Stinking Thinking.” In his beautiful book, Breathing Under Water, Rohr expands the traditional 12-step program for alcoholics to the many other addictions that are keeping us from experiencing the fullness of our lives. According to Rohr, we’re all addicted to our thinking. As we go through these 12 steps, we go beneath the surface of our life and confront our demons. As he says, “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.”

Here I am at age 80, going through my own 12-step program and letting go of those things that have held me back in my life and made me miserable. That misery, for me, is the doorway to happiness.

I hope it doesn’t take you that long.

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