As I have taken some time to reflect recently on everything that has transpired in my life, I’ve come to the conclusion that life is a journey of letting go. We spend the first couple of decades of our lives absorbing stories, beliefs, values, and expectations from our environment and everyone around us. Unconsciously and unknowingly, we make these our own. We hold onto them and allow them to define who we are. We actually use them to define who we are. Layer upon layer, these stories, beliefs, values and expectations form the chapters in the story of our lives.
Then, as the days repeat themselves and these stories, beliefs, values and expectations become the roller coaster of our life, we begin to wonder why life is the way that it is. We struggle to see the connection between the stories, beliefs, values and expectations that we absorbed in our early years and the career path we’re on, the relationships that we have, the health that we have. It’s all connected.
But how do we change something that defines us? How do we change something through which we have come to define ourselves through? That is, the stories, beliefs, values, and expectations through which we see the world and through which our lives are based on and defined.
As we begin to question our lives and everything that we have we don’t make the connection because ‘it’s just who we are’ and ‘it’s just how life is’. We submit ourselves to the stories, beliefs, values and expectations we absorbed when we were younger and unconsciously carry out our lives according to them.
We struggle because really and truly, these stories, beliefs, values and expectations are not our own. They are not who we are. They belong to the others who unconsciously and unknowingly passed them on to us. These stories, beliefs, values and expectations that have been passed on to us do give us one very important thing; that is experience. Through experience, we can learn about ourselves, what we appreciate and what we do not. Through experience, we can learn to make choices that can change the course of our lives.
However, the difficulty lies in the fact that our experiences end up validating the stories, beliefs, and values that were thrust upon us. They are like quicksand; we want to escape but continually find ourselves sinking. Our TRUE selves want to be expressed, free from the burden of the stories, beliefs, values, and expectations that were passed down to us through our upbringing: our formative years.
From this difficulty arises struggle. We struggle to name our own struggle. And so, we look for reasons WHY things are the way that they are and we start to point our fingers at other people, at circumstances, at past events. We do this to find reasons as to why we struggle. We begin to blame these other people, these other circumstances, these past events for why we experience and struggle with life the way that we do. We do find something in looking outside of ourselves for answers. We find anger, we find hate, we find resentment, we find frustration. If these people, if these circumstances, if these past events weren’t there, we’d be okay—we’d find peace. We begin to believe that our current struggles are as a direct result of these people, these circumstances and the past events that all serve to traumatize our lives.
If we escape this quicksand we almost always find another pit of quicksand and we begin sinking again. We react to these events in life by pushing people away, both directly and indirectly. We push everyone away. We just need to find peace for ourselves. We just need to heal. We believe that having some time and space will allow us to heal. But, having pushed everyone away, we find no peace. We find depths of despair we had never thought could be so dark. We feel alone. We feel scared. We are afraid for our lives.
Until one day comes, one moment presents itself, and we wake up. We don’t want to be removed from others. We want to bring others closer. We realize the lives we’ve been leading are as a result of the stories, beliefs, values and expectations that were passed down to us. They are not us. And so, we begin to shed these stories, beliefs, values and expectations. The pit of quicksand we’d been sinking in disappears because it had only existed in the context of the stories, beliefs, values and expectations that were not our own.
We find freedom. The freedom to express ourselves. The freedom to BE ourselves. We stop running. For the first time we feel a love, a deep love, a love we have never felt before. We’re ready. We’re ready to rewrite the stories, beliefs, values and expectations that represent and reflect our true self.
And so, we let go. And what a strange feeling it is. To let go of the stories, beliefs, values, and expectations that were never our own but had struggled to believe they were our own. We had struggled to make them our own. Letting go feels so strange. For years and decades of our life, they have been who we are. So, without them, who are we?
The old stories, beliefs, values, and expectations framed our lives. We had a sense of what life’s parameters were. Without them, there are no parameters. In the instant we let go of the old stories, beliefs, values, and expectations, the strangeness of the feeling is as a result of removing these parameters within which we believed we must exist. And so, life expands.
And so, life is a journey of letting go. It’s a journey of continual letting go. And in such a place, life expands and anything is possible. What will you do within this new expansiveness you find yourself in?