Letting Go and Moving Forward

Frog travelling and letting go

Learning the Five Keys

In Zen tradition, there is a well-known tale that shares the idea of letting go.  There are many versions of this story, but here is the gist:

Frog travelling and letting goTwo travelers reached a town where there was a young woman waiting to step out of her sedan chair. The rains had made deep puddles and so she couldn’t step across without spoiling her silken robes. She just stood there, looking very angry and impatient, upset that the rain might ruin her day. She was scolding her attendants, quite upset that they had not done a better job of meeting her needs. They had nowhere to place the packages they held for her, so they couldn’t help her across the large puddle themselves. The younger traveler noticed the woman and all her drama, said nothing, and walked by. The older traveler quickly picked her up and put her on his back, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other side. She didn’t thank the older traveler, but just shoved him out of the way and kept on going. As they continued on their way, the young traveler was brooding and preoccupied. After several hours, unable to hold his silence, he spoke out.

“That woman back there was very selfish and rude, but you picked her up on your back and carried her! Then she didn’t even thank you!”

“I set the woman down hours ago,” the older traveler replied. “Why are you still carrying her?”

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This story perfectly illustrates the fact that we either set things down, or we continue to carry them.  Setting things down means a brief process of carrying in order to get to the other side, while continuing to carry means that many miles later, we are still burdened.

We either move forward, or we continue to carry.  It could be an event, a relationship, a job, or a heartbreak.  In the end, we all need to ask this:  Are you letting go and moving forward, or hanging on and continuing to carry?

5 Keys to Letting Go and Moving Forward

1. Identify your Feelings

The first key for Letting Go and Moving Forward is to identify your Feelings.  Not everything affects us in an emotionally negative way, and so it is critical to thoroughly identify the events, relationships, and heartbreaks which have impacted you in an emotionally harmful way.  When it comes to life, relationships, and events, we either identify the issues, or we suppress the issues.  Suppressing leads to regressing; while identifying leads to progressing.

This is the principle of “Clarified Emotion”.  Emotion that’s not clarified and illuminated often lies in a state of negativity, draining our positive energy and inspiration.  Find a safe place to identify your feelings, to clearly express and articulate the happenings which have impacted you in an emotionally hurtful way.  It is difficult to live an empowered life without clarified emotions.  Without identifying our feelings, we experience emotional blockage, and this is unhealthy.

2.  Extend Forgiveness

The second key for Letting Go and Moving Forward is to extend Forgiveness.  Forgiveness does NOT mean that the negative emotions suddenly go away, or that the pain instantly dissolves, or even that the relationship and trust goes back to normal.  Forgiveness is essentially a transactional event where we choose to release another and wipe the slate clean.  Forgiving someone may cost you your pride, but not forgiving them will cost you your freedom.  To forgive someone else is to set a prisoner free, and to joyfully discover that the prisoner was you.

I call this the principle of “Closing Accounts”.  In this, we make a clear list of those who have hurt or wounded us, and the events.  We then identify exactly how they hurt us, and understand that by forgiving them, we help ourselves.  And in the end, we make the decision to forgive.  We close the account and move on.  Without extending forgiveness, we experience bitterness, and this hurts us far more than the person we do not forgive.

3.  Forget What Disempowers You

The third key for Letting Go and Moving Forward is to forget the things that disempower us.  Once we have made the choice to forgive, one of the healthiest things we can do is make the choice to forget.  This is NOT about forgetting the event or the person, actually not at all.  To forget what they did only gives them a chance to do it again, if we haven’t learned from what occurred and incorporated those learnings into our experience.  We don’t forget the person or event, but there is no value in constantly dwelling in the past.  When we dwell in the past too much, it becomes part of our personal story that we move forward with, and if that story is only filled with negative events, people, and relationships, it is easy to see how this can hold us back from moving forward.

This is the principle of “Closure”.  In our story above, the older traveler made peace with the actions of the young woman, while the younger traveler continued to nurse what happened, and to rehearse it, and to effectively continue to carry her.  It is difficult for even the most talented among us to move forward if our personal story is mainly about the negative happenings, people and occurrences of our past.  Find closure.

Without forgetting and healthy closure, we experience bondage.  People who are trapped by the past live with a negative story that defines their future, disempowers their present, and constrains their possibilities.

4.  Focus on What Matters

Once we have identified our feelings, extended forgiveness, and forgotten what disempowers us, the fourth key for Letting Go and Moving Forward is to focus on what matters.  We cannot change the past, nor can we control the future, but in the present we can focus on that what matters.

Focus on the power of focus!  What you focus on, you move towards, and ultimately, become.  If I do not like my present outcomes, I need to adjust my focus, because I will move towards what I focus on.  Tony Robbins said that, “One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power.  Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.”  This is so true, and to emphasize this, Bruce Lee said that, “The successful warrior is the average person, with laser-like focus.”  Average people with above-average focus produce exceptional results.  This is the principle of “Clear Vision”.  A clear vision harnesses your potential, and helps you tap into the laser power of focus.  You will surprise yourself when you focus like a laser.

So, what are you focused on?  What is your vision statement for today?  For this week?  For this month?  What is your clear vision for this year, and the next one?  Spending time to ponder and reflect on those things is a far more effective use of your time than dwelling on the past and fixating on its failures.  Without focus, things are blurry, and blurriness is disempowering.

5.  Go Forward with Growth

Once we have identified our feelings, extended forgiveness, forgotten what disempowers us, and focused on what matters, the fifth key for Letting Go and Moving Forward is go forward with your vision.  Zig Ziglar said that, “Lack of direction, not time, is the problem.  We all have twenty-four hour days.”

This is the principle of “Consistent Personal Growth”.  W. Edwards Deming established the Total Quality Movement, first in Japan and then in the rest of the world.  Deming’s contribution is historically so important that U.S. New & World Report called him one of the “nine hidden turning points in history” (along with the birth control pill and the Apostle Paul).  After over 50 years of research, Deming pointed out that in every process there is a beginning and an end.  When you focus on the first 15% of that process and get it correct, you insure at least 85% of your desired outcome.  By focusing on the first 15% of anything, the remaining 85% will typically effortlessly flow.  “Getting the process correct”, when it comes to you and I, is all about ongoing training, education, personal growth, and personal development.  Michelangelo said that, “If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.”

See, when we stop growing, we start dying.  Will Rogers said that, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”  Thus, going forward is all about making choices and developing habits so that we consistently continue to grow and move forward as people.  It is all about daily choices and daily habits which flow from an overall life focus of growth and personal development.  Aristotle said that, “We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”  Perhaps Joe Girard summed it up best when he said that, “The elevator to success is out of order.  You’ll have to use the stairs… one step at a time.”

This is also about having a coach and mentors.  I really believe that a single conversation across the table from a wise person is worth years of research and study.  Without going forward, we experience boredom, and bored people are typically not the ones who are empowered and serve, contribute, and add value.

The story of the two travelers perfectly illustrates the fact that we either set things down, or we continue to carry them.  Setting things down means a brief process of carrying in order to get to the other side, while continuing to carry means that many miles later, we are still burdened.

We either move forward, or we continue to carry.  It could be an event, a relationship, a job, or a heartbreak.  In the end, we all need to ask this:  Are you letting go and moving forward, or hanging on and continuing to carry?

 

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About Abe Brown

Abe Brown, MBA is the Coach’s Coach, and is the CEO of Momentum Coaching, and the President of the Certified Coaches Federation. Momentum Coaching has experienced triple digit growth for several years running, and the Certified Coaches Federation has trained and certified over 12,000 Life and Executive Coaches in the last 10 years. Abe does Leadership, Business, and Executive Coaching, and works with profit-based, and non-profit organizations around strategic planning, cultivating fully engaged employees, and facilitating coaching and training programs. He has also worked with several small, medium, and large businesses to accelerate revenue growth and maximize engagement.

17 Comments

  1. Jazz Yoga on October 29, 2016 at 7:18 am

    I always share that story with my students. Great analogy. Thank you for sharing

  2. Lorraine Cauchi on October 29, 2016 at 9:26 am

    This is one of the BEST! articles I have ever read on forgivenes. Maybe it was the timing, but I found myself almost holding my breath the first time Inread it through. It”s now bookmarked and saved as a daily read for me. Abe Brown, you changed a life today. Thank you. Lorraine Cauchi RN. Certified Personal Trainer.

    • Abe Brown on November 2, 2016 at 7:04 am

      Thanks so much Lorraine! Much appreciated!

  3. Jim Hillegas on October 29, 2016 at 10:40 am

    Your message wraps up the simple truths of living in reality consciously…. bliss becomes the gift. Thanks Abe

    • Abe Brown on November 2, 2016 at 7:04 am

      Thanks for your insight Jim!
      Abe

  4. Rose McHale on October 30, 2016 at 9:40 am

    This came to me at a great time. I am retired from a “job”. Now I would like to enter into a career of coaching. This well written article gives good orderly direction.

    Thank you!

    • Abe Brown on November 2, 2016 at 7:05 am

      Wow that’s great news Rose! Thanks so much!
      Abe

  5. Roberta on October 30, 2016 at 10:55 am

    Abe,
    Thank you for sharing this story. It is a very clear and focus way to looking at what we do hold on to…and the pathway to choosing a more healthy, positive and powerful way to own it, release it and move forward with purpose. I will be taking the time to personally use this method…plus sharing with my clients and friends.
    ~Roberta

  6. jen on October 30, 2016 at 11:38 am

    a well timed read. thank you

    • Abe Brown on November 2, 2016 at 7:05 am

      Thanks so much Jen!
      Abe

  7. Penny bilquist on October 30, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    Do you have any retreats or weekends for just general public?

    • Marsha Staton on November 1, 2016 at 9:34 am

      Yes, we do, Penny. Please contact our office at 1-866-455-2155 for more info.

  8. Evelyn Walsh on October 31, 2016 at 10:01 am

    Fabulous read! Thank you.

    • Abe Brown on November 2, 2016 at 7:05 am

      Thanks Evelyn!
      Abe

  9. Gwendolyn on October 31, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    Nice read

  10. Jennifer Clarke-Singh on December 10, 2016 at 9:42 am

    Hi Abe
    Thank you for this excellent read. I would like your permission to use this in one of our bible studies. Our faith group is on a journey to be Christlike but letting go of offense seems to be a common struggle .

  11. Charles on December 13, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    As a minister, I encounter many people who struggle with forgiveness. I have adapted these ideas to use in messages on forgiveness–with credit to the author.

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