In one of my recent yoga classes, the teacher chose ‘letting go’ as topic or red thread in our class. She encouraged us to let go of any expectations or reactions that might come up when practising challenging poses. As we went through the 90 minutes of strengthening and stretching, she asked us what in our life we could let go of that does not serve us anymore.
This made me think of my podcast show, Downsize with Style, and how often in the past couple of years ‘letting go’ was the major theme in this podcast. I spoke about it in de-cluttering episodes, and many of my interview partners mentioned it in our discussion. It seems to be a topic that is omnipresent and in many peoples’ minds but – at the same time – hard to deal with. Why is it so hard for us to let go? Why do we cling to thoughts, actions, things, habits as long as we can, even if we suffer for doing so?
My yoga teacher quoted Confucius, who had said: Letting go is hard but holding on can be even harder. I googled quotes on ‘Letting Go’ and was surprised how many people talk or talked about the act of letting go. On Goodreads, I found over 600 quotes; Brainy Quote, the world’s largest quotation site according to their webpage, listed several pages of ‘Letting Go’ quotes from “history’s most prominent figures” to authors, athletes, politicians, and celebrities. I even found one from one of my favourite German writers, Hermann Hesse, who had said: “Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.”
I have taken this photo at GAIA in the Hinterland of Byron Bay. This yoga and wellness retreat is a magic place to unwind, re-energise and become clear about things to let go.
Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.
Letting go is hard but holding on can be even harder.
Since this yoga class, I have been thinking about what things and habits I could let go in my life. This is a really hard path. Deep inside me, I feel more than I know what to let go because it does not serve me any longer. But we humans are masters in suppressing these feelings because we do not want to face the truth. I give you one example from my business: In September 2014, I started a podcast show. I had self-published a book for empty nesters planning to downsize to apartments earlier that year and was very enthusiastic about delivering my content in other forms. We all know that people learn and consume information differently, and podcasts are a great tool for auditory learners. I started from scratch and began to record weekly episodes. After about six weeks, I got the first downloads, and the number of listeners has grown weekly since then. I invested a lot of time finding interview partners, writing scripts, recording interviews and preparing the final post to go live. I tried to find a like-minded co-host but unfortunately was not successful. So I kept going on my own. At the end of last year, I noticed that it became harder and harder to come up with fresh content, to find new interview partners. I had also not managed to get new clients through this show and monetise my investment in some way. Early 2016, I changed the frequency from weekly to bi-weekly. I kept on going, dragging along, knowing deep inside that I would have to let go of this project sooner or later. It was very hard, as I felt it was ‘my baby’, and there were people all over the world listening to it. However, coming back to the quotes, I knew I needed to let go of it to see what other opportunities arise. So after 73 episodes, I put my podcast on hiatus for the time being. It was a hard decision, but now that I have done this step, I feel that I have freed up time for other things that I enjoy much more, writing, for example.
With this post, I would like to encourage you to think about things, beliefs and habits that you have been holding on to for a while, or maybe years, and what this does to you.
Does holding on to mental and physical clutter prevent you from starting a new chapter of your life and living with less?
Do your beliefs hold you back from stepping out of your comfort zone and experiencing something new?
Do you let your habits reign and suffocate your creativity? I have always done it this way, so there is no point in trying something else; sounds familiar?
Do you have trouble letting go of bad habits, such as consuming too much alcohol and junk food, nicotine or TV?
Do bad habits take up large junks of your free time and prevent you from writing the book you always wanted to write?
What is it that you can’t let go? Maybe, take some time away from your day-to-day bubble and to reflect on these questions. And, hopefully, you will make a decision that will free up your mind and opens doors to new opportunities.
What are your plans for the second half of the year? Make a vision board for your personal or business goals and display it at a place where you see it daily. I started working with this technique last year, and I achieved all my goals for 2015; my vision board for 2016 reminds me daily of what I am working towards this year. Some of my 2016 goals have already been ticked off the list.
If you are interested in learning the versatile mood board technique in a hands-on creativity workshop, please register your interest by contacting me. Tip: the mood board technique can also be used to brainstorm and map out a book.