As soon as she spoke, I could tell she was desperate. “Somehow, I need to let go. This pain is almost killing me. I just have to move on.” She went on to tell me about her incredible love for the business she had built with a close friend who had become a business partner.
However, this close friend who had become a business partner had also betrayed her, and then pushed her out of the business. The lady I was speaking with was shattered at the moment, heart-broken at the loss not only of a business that had come to define her, but also at the loss of this friend and business partner.
As a coach, I wish I was able to wave a magic wand and remove her pain, making the world right for her again. Alas, no such wand exists as far as I can tell. So, I began to share with her that sometimes the best way to be happy is to learn to let go of things you tried hard to hold on to, but that are no longer good for you. When you let go, you actually create space for something better. Some people think that holding on makes us strong, but sometimes, letting go makes you stronger.
Two 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?”
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. We either let go and move on, or we hold on and remain stuck in a moment in time. 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 on, or hanging on and continuing to carry?
5 Keys to Letting Go and Moving On:
1. Identify your Feelings: The first key for Letting Go and Moving On 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 On 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 go 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.
This is the principle of “Closing Accounts”. Here 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 Dis-empowers You: The third key for Letting Go and Moving On is to forget the things that dis-empower 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, dis-empowers their present, and constrains their possibilities.
4. Focus on What Matters: Once we have identified our feelings, extended forgiveness, and forgotten what dis-empowers us, the fourth key for Letting Go and Moving On 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.
Concentrate 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 dis-empowering.
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 On 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.”
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 and years later, we are still burdened.
In some cases, it is necessary to let things go, simply because they are too heavy to continue to carry. So, let them go. Let them go! Don’t allow any weights to be tied to your ankles or to weigh down your shoulders. One of the happiest moments in life is when we find the courage to let go of what we cannot change. It does hurt to let go, but sometimes it hurts more to hold on. One of the most courageous choices you will ever make is to finally let go of what is hurting your heart and soul. To let go, release, forgive, and move on.
There is an ancient text that says something like this, in the book of Genesis 35:19-21: “So Rachel died and was buried… Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb. Israel moved on…”
What a progression:
- We experience a loss – Sometimes we cause the loss, and sometimes, the loss just happens. In this case, a man named Jacob lost his wife here, whom he dearly loved.
- We honour the loss – Jacob set up a pillar over her tomb. He processed the loss, grieved the loss, and honoured it. We process and grieve the loss. We don’t deny the pain of the loss.
- We bury the loss – We let it go. We find the courage to grab the shovel, dig the hole, and bury what was so precious to us.
- We then move on – Notice that Jacob experienced the loss, honoured the loss, and buried the loss.
But the passage says that, “Israel moved on…”
Read it again: Israel moved on. Israel was Jacob’s new name, given to him as a result of him fighting and winning a major battle. Because he experienced the loss, honoured the loss and buried the loss, the new Jacob, known as Israel, now moved on. When you experience a loss, honour the loss, and bury it, the new you also can move on!
Please consider the following:
- What do you need to honour, bury and move on from in order to elevate your life and business?
- If you do move on, what sort of outcomes and impact can you expect to have?
- If you do not move on, what sort of outcomes and impact can you expect to have?
The truth is, we either move on, 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 on, or hanging on and continuing to carry?
Remember this: Accept what is. Let go of what was. And believe in what it will be.