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Letting Go, and Embracing the Unknown

(This blog post was written by Reena Singh, LMHC. Reena is a therapist at our practice and specializes in working with individuals.)

“There is a time for departure, even when there is no certain place to go.” – Robert Frost

This is one of my favored quotes in writing about uncertainty.  It speaks to one of our greatest fears – which is letting go when the path ahead remains unclear.  If something in our life is no longer serving us in a positive way then it seems natural that we would let it go.  Yet the actual task of letting go constantly gets in the way of what our natural tendency should be.  When we are unsure of our next steps, we are vulnerable to feeling lonely, confused and scared.  Whether we are clinging to a job that we are unhappy in, a partner that we are no longer compatible with or a friendship that takes more than it gives – our unwillingness to surrender these familiar ties is based on our fear of the unknown.

Holding onto what is familiar and certain offers us a false sense of security. In truth, the very nature of our existence is constantly changing and our attempts to find lasting security in anything traps us and limits our growth. Letting go allows us to move forward in our lives and experience meaningful change; it opens us up new experiences, people and situations. It can be exhilarating and exciting, but also challenges us to relinquish our control.

We can ease this tension by first identifying what we must let go of.  Think about your situations and relationships that are no longer enhancing you.  Do you find yourself constantly making excuses for someone or something in your life?  Are there areas in your life that you hope will get better on their own?  Do you find yourself extremely bored and/or under stimulated around certain people or in certain situations? Are there things that you are just “tolerating?”  Are you fonder of your memories than you are of your actual experiences?

If you find these themes playing out in certain areas of your life, then it’s a good indicator that there needs to be a change.  And as with all psychological change, before you can let go, you must understand why you are holding on.

What are the fears you are associating with moving on from your current situation? Think about all the reasons that are holding you back from taking a leap of faith.  Are you fearful of change, being alone, losing someone, starting over, losing control?  Do you feel guilty abandoning something/someone?  Are you too comfortable with familiarity of you situation? Are you anticipating the worst? Are you worried that you won’t know who you are without this affiliation?

Sure, these are legitimate reasons to hold us back, but not one of them is a good enough reason to keep us from experiencing the life that we deserve. Life is not about merely existing in our situations.  We have the power to change our situations so that we can lead a more fulfilling life, but our fear holds us back from doing so.  It numbs us, hardens who are and as a method of self-protection, it leads us to believe that we are limited in making changes.  If we believe in those limits then we will never have to push ourselves to experience life outside of our comfort zones.

The first step to overcoming our fear is to get comfortable with the “not knowing.”   You may not have a clear vision of your life path as you embark upon this journey into the unknown, and that is ok.  As you become more familiar with the uncertainty of your situation, you will also become more familiar with who you are and what you are you capable of.  And though you may anticipate fear being a close companion on this journey, I think you will find that exhilaration will be your constant companion.

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