Is It Time to Let Go?

Is it time to let go?

That’s a weighty statement and one that can be applied to so many things in life. It can apply to our habits, likes, desires, life plans, relationships, as well as dislikes, pent-up emotions, and grudges with others (and ourselves).

Do we sometimes wear blinders?

Are we so sure of our long-term best-laid plans that we can’t see our peripheral; other options or, more importantly, new opportunities that evolve from the original journey?

I am like many of you. I have plenty of flaws, hang-ups, and biases about my life and the world. I am self-deprecating, self-critical, and unsure of things. I take responsibility for everything that happens to me to a hurtful extent. I know this. My mind races, doubts, and tangles in the minutia of life extending from perfection to frustration.

It is partially due to a sense of control. A mindset that I am in the driver’s seat.

When I was younger I went with the flow of circumstances. Looking back it was a carefree mentality that came very naturally. When we are in our teens, twenties, and a little into our thirties we tend to allow circumstances to dictate a lot of how we behave and decide on things. We find ourselves on the fast track to education, career, and relationships. Living situations, jobs, and friendships come and go with lightspeed. If we don’t quickly adapt then we feel like we are standing still.

A funny thing happened at 40

Now, 40 isn’t some magical number where we start seeing a decline in our lives. Sure, you could easily start a downward trend if you’re not careful. You can lose muscle mass and strength letting your health decline, abandon friendships, neglect relationships, and refuse to be open for more learning and education. It’s easy to do once you’ve established a home life, roots, and good job, and have a little money in the bank.

Here I’m talking about the tendency for us to become set in our ways. Our ego sets in and props us up on a “mature” pedestal. A boundary is made signifying our promotion to loftier pursuits, the resistance against menial tasks, and the belief that we deserve better.

We don’t mean to think this way, but we feel we’ve put in our time in the trenches. We’ve done the dirty work and it is now our time to reap the rewards and benefits of our hard-earned labor–the hustle from our twenties and thirties.

We mentally become our own boss. Our egos propel us toward to position of authority in society. In our subconscious we transform our approach to life. We move from searchers/explorers that ride the wave of life, free for whatever gets thrown at us to authoritarian “experts” here to “educate” others with our vast silos of knowledge.

(Of course we are not experts in anything, really, as there is always something to learn, but our egos push us toward this authoritative stance)

Do we need to let go?

Have the blinders been on long enough? Have they hindered our ability to seek out new things right in front of us? Has our ego gotten such a tight grip on our perspective of life that anything outside of its comfort is too painful to experience?

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.”

Charles Kingsley

Why does the “rule book” resist an open mind at an older age? Why does our ego supplant itself so powerfully that we must make serious paradigm shifts that can feel like they may upend our lives?

These simple choices, circumstances that were once either brushed off or immediately dealt with are now major issues requiring heaps of analysis, consultation, and motivation. We feel the crushing weight of decision, change, and open-mindedness which can potentially paralyze us straight into inaction, frustration, and sometimes anger.

This conundrum applies to virtually anything: career choices, relationships, politics, health, weekly scheduling, family plans, etc.

Taking off the blinders

We must first take off our biased, muting, suffocating blinders and begin to open our eyes. The first act of deciding to do this is a tough one. We have been “approved” by life that we know what the heck we are doing; we know how to think and act. Who is anyone to tell us otherwise?

This act isn’t one for throwing away past experiences, education, and/or mental capacity by any means. It only a step toward an opportunity to expand on those attributes. To enhance those skills and potentially to utilize them in new and more effective ways.

This is the first step. Again, I am guilty as any. I am no Luddite, but I have noticed myself slipping into this negative mindset. The “set in my ways” mentality is rearing its ugly face in my daily speech, beliefs, and actions.

(This excludes things in life you are passionate about or lifelong principles such as integrity, honesty, hard work ethic, etc.)

Stripping away the ego and becoming the student

The second step is to once again become the student. With an open mind the ego has no room to live. To put ourselves in the role of learner we can then start the process of moving forward in a deliberate, purposeful way all the while chipping away at our self-destructive ego.

The term lifelong learner has gained traction over the last decade or so. It’s really the difference between the fixed mindset (lacking flexibility in approaching challenges) and the growth mindset (having mental elasticity regarding challenges). Somehow our once growth mindset slowly became cemented and plastered into the dried and weighted fixed mindset mixture. We’ll need some serious tools to chip away at the years of grout that has formed around our heads.

Stripping away ego isn’t easy. It takes total awareness, an open mind, and an active willingness to be an active participant in decision-making. We must become awake each day, hour, and minute of our day. We can no longer set our days on autopilot, our default setting and fall back on the “way we’ve always done it.”

We must decide a change is needed, rip off the blinders, strip away the ego and put our new plan into action. Then, and only then can we expect some shift in our perspective and subsequently our outcomes for a better, more open life.

“It’s a good idea to obey all the rules when you’re young just so you’ll have the strength to break them when you’re old.”

Mark Twain

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2 thoughts on “Is It Time to Let Go?

  1. I think I’m lucky in a sense that I’d always been at the bottom, having restarted my career three times and counting, so as I approach 40, I still very much feel like I have a lot to learn, and I’ll never be in a position to rest on my laurels. The downside is that I’m less established than my peers, but hey, the magic’s in the work, am I right? Thanks for this post, Brad!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes! We are similar in the respect of starting over several times. As long as we can keep the lifelong learner mentality front and center we stave off the feeling of “falling behind” our peers. It makes for a richer experience.

      Liked by 1 person

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