What Can You Let Go Of Today? 

“I’m not the PTA President anymore…?” My client responds with a rising inflection when I ask What can you let go of? 

She serves as the executive director of a global organization. Involved mom of three school-aged children. Worried caretaker for aging parents. Friend and neighbor who always lends a helping hand. And, like many of us in midlife, she’s often overwhelmed, under pressure, and treading water.

We live the first half of our lives tied to outside expectations. We move through childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood with the map handed to us by society. As Chip Conley writes in Learning to Love Midlife, we’re always asking the question: What does the world expect from me? 

Somewhere in the middle years, you wake up and realize: This M.O. is no longer working for me. And instead, you find yourself wondering: How can I serve my family, community, and world AND reclaim my own wants and needs?

One way is to create space in your mind, body, and life by letting go of what isn’t serving you anymore. Get curious about the old mindsets and habits keeping you stuck and overwhelmed (check out “Where Can You Let Go?” below).

Choose something to let go of… and start radically small. For example, I recently turned a corner with laundry. 

Everyday, I washed, dried, and (resentfully) folded a mountain of family garments. Muttered as I placed my 10-year-old’s tidy stack on the rustic, wooden table in his bedroom. Asked him to put away his clothes. Watched him, instead, shuffle hastily through tops and bottoms for school and soccer. Witnessed my mindful efforts become a messy heap. Sucked my teeth as I placed a new pile of order next to the growing disorder. Narrowed my eyes at the swelling blob of socks and hoodies. About once a week (or less), he would finally put things away…by stuffing wrinkled bits haphazardly into random drawers and closet corners.

One day, while pulling a youth-sized t-shirt from the dryer, it hit me—what the heck? Why am I holding onto this expectation around laundry? How much energy—between the chore and the accompanying tension and irritation—is this taking away from what I really want? This was clearly a habit I was ready to let go of. And so I did. 

Let me tell you folks, every time I dump a messy heap of clean clothes on that rustic, wooden table… the corners of my mouth twitch into a smile and I get a wee shimmer of joy. It’s a ridiculously tiny shift that tilts me away from discontent and into delight.

As you get comfortable with Letting Go of little things, practice this Landmark of Wellbeing in a broader sense of the theme: 

Relax your muscles and lengthen your exhale to soothe tension in your body. Release ruminating thoughts to calm your mind. Sprinkle in microdoses of mind-body medicine that reduce stress…and notice how you incrementally have more space to scoop up what you really want.


Where Can You Let Go?

“In order to be who you are, you must let go of who you think you are…99% of your thoughts are a complete waste of time. They do nothing but freak you out.” -Michael Singer

Take out a piece of paper and pen, and jot down notes around the following questions:

What are 99% of your thoughts about? What keeps you up at night? Where do you feel stuck in life? What habits and mindsets are no longer working for you? What expectations are to ready to let go of?

Now, look over your notes and chose one small thing to let go of today. Repeat the practice of letting go of that small thing everyday until your new habit or mindset feels easeful. 

When you’re ready to let go a little more, revisit your notes and choose another small thing to let go of.

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