This blog introduces you to my special brand of BIKE. I show you how to find your Best self, access your Inner strength, tune in to your Killer instincts, and use your Expressive voice. It's inspiring, spiritual, quirky, and it's all in your head. It's about ATTITUDE, not exercise, though that might be a side benefit.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Recovery: Letting go

My New York-based friend Irene Levine writes a blog about friendship to go along with her book and work on the same topic. Yesterday she referred her friends to the goodbye column written by Ellen Goodman over at The Washington Post. In her final column for the newspaper (Goodman's retiring) that ran yesterday, the journalist writes something that caught my eye. She writes about the "Graceful Exit." She writes about letting go.

So we begin the lessons on Recovery this month with "Letting go," because it can be an empowering way to begin the process. And don't fret over this, but let me share with you a secret: Recovery is a lifelong process. That is in no way meant to be a negative. That's definitely a positive. It means you continually get the chance to make a fresh start. We'll never stop making mistakes, missing the mark on something, doing something we wish we wouldn't. We're human. We don't do it all 100 percent. We won't give it all 100 percent. We won't be perfect. Ever. So, it seems to me you're empowered when you realize you always have the opportunity for a fresh start. When you let go, you've gained an immediate sense of liberty. It's liberating to know you get those do-overs--however many you need.

But first you must let go of something.

So let's start with the past. You're hearing a lot of people say something like, "Thank goodness 2009's over. It was a horrible year. I'm ready to let that one go." It's a wonderful exclamation of the freedom I'm talking about today. It means these folks are focusing on moving forward. Letting go. Moving forward. It doesn't mean you forget. To me, it means not holding on to that which holds you back. It's not about pretending nothing ever happened. It's about letting go the grudges, being able to forgive someone of something, accepting what you can't control, being okay with what IS. It's about letting go the FEELINGS that can tie you down.

The great thing about "feelings" that we don't always recognize is that they are fleeting. Holding onto them essentially means you're holding onto an energy that might not even be there tomorrow. Ask yourself this question: Have I ever been worried, for instance, about something I said to someone and they didn't even remember what I said? Have I ever fought with someone, when, not one month later, neither of us could remember what we fought about? That's the kind of stuff you might be ready to let go of in 2010.

Goodman's column quoted something about the "Graceful Exit" from somewhere that I really latched onto when I read it:

"There's a trick to the Graceful Exit. It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, a relationship is over--and to let go. It means leaving what's over without denying its validity or its past importance in our lives.

"It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving on rather than out."

I particularly related to the line about "leaving what's over without denying its validity or its past importance in our lives." That's why I say letting go isn't about forgetting. Our experiences teach us lessons. If we forget events, we may forget the lessons as well, which means we may have to learn them all over again. That might lead to uncomfortable or miserable experiences that we've already had. Keep the lessons, but let go of the hurts, if that's what led to them.

Today, let's agree to resolve to let go of what has been holding us back. If it's a friendship that's gone sour (Visit Irene's blog above to learn more about this topic), if it's a job that isn't working, if it's a bad habit, today resolve to let it go. Take it one day at a time or one step at a time, if that's what it takes, and begin to move forward rather than stay behind.

If there is something in your life that you need to let go of, beginning today, tell us what it is right here and also how it's been holding you back. Sometimes, just the act of writing this stuff down can bring about a clarity you didn't even know you needed.

Let it out and let it go.


Maddie Hunter said...

You couldn't have written a more important blogpost for me to read, Jackie. As a parent of an 18 year-old boy, I am discovering how much letting go I need to master for his benefit...and for mine. I am envisioning a form of a "graceful exit" from how I've been as a parent - where I cease to think I can manage his choices, his plans, his friends. I'm far from graceful but I am taking the right steps. I will read and reread your words that urge me to approach this letting go with grace towards myself too. All my muscle memory seems to prompt me to hold on to how I've been, so bravo to me and to all of us as we choose to react to our lives differently. I can already tell 2010 will be a powerful year of change.

Meredith Resnick - The Writer's [Inner] Journey said...

Letting go is such a simple thing - not always easy but incredibly simple. It's such a basic spiritual tenet, so odd that many of us (me) need to remind ourselves to do it!

Beth Terry said...

Beautiful post, Jackie. And so true. Perhaps if everyone going through a divorce or quitting their job could read your blog, they would be able to move onto new things faster. There's no sense in holding on. We wear ourselves out and keep our eyes closed to the possibilities in front of us!

Happy New Year!

BIKE LADY said...


Your challenges are not new to me. I've been there, done that. It was hard for me to let go when my children moved on also. It's still hard when they do things differently than I envisioned they would. Funny how we try to insert our dreams into theirs. I think it's natural, because it's what we know. Taking this cycle of life one step at a time is wise. We just want the best for our children. The thing is, we can't know what that is, not really. They will figure it out for themselves on their own, in their own time, and you will be able to step back with grace and let them. It will happen because you are wise enough to know this is true.

You can expect 2010 to, indeed, be a powerful year. I know I am. ;-)

BIKE LADY said...

Meredith, isn't it odd how much we need to be reminded of?! Thank goodness, or there would be no need for blogs like ours.

And, Beth, I have been that person who had her eyes closed, too. Letting go is a difficult place to be, but at least now I know if I ever return to it, I know how to get back out.

Dr. Eileen Borris said...

Jackie, your words really touched me. So often when i work with clients they ask me how do I let go - how can I stop being stuck. You answered it so wonderfully and I love the phrase "graceful exit." There is definitely wisdom in knowing when to hold on and when to let go.

Ulrike, Dubai said...

Thank you for your post Jackie. Although I love new beginnings, I can be a bit of an elephant at times and your post pushed me toward letting go of some bad feelings that have been hanging around for way too long...
I will try to let go of them this year!

BIKE LADY said...

Ulrike, maybe you were ready to let them go. Maybe it was time. And if my post helped in any way to push you where you needed to go, I'm happy you could recognize your need. Sometimes, it just takes the right push at the right time. Let us know how it goes.

Rosie said...

Great post, Jackie! Hanging on to bad feelings is like holding onto an old car that doesn't run. It won't take you anywhere, so why keep throwing good energy into it? Time to head out on the highway with a shiny new vehicle!