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Every time another email came in from a lawyer, I’d read it and kind of shake my head. Really? Seriously? This is…this is so…crazy. Then I’d read it, again. Sometimes there were outright lies, other times just a manipulation of facts.
Someone was throwing down some nonsense, in the name of…competition? Or something? I wasn’t really sure. My lawyer and I would hop on the phone and discuss what was basically becoming some kind of weird, hostile takeover kind of situation–an attempt to shut down my business.
I’d talk about it with friends. We’d sip wine and they would look at so-and-so’s website and roll their eyes and say, “Kate, what is she even…after? I mean, you guys are doing different stuff. What’s this about?”
“I couldn’t tell you,” I’d say, pouring myself another glass.
Some nights, fear would hit. My head might spin with all of the potential outcomes. If this happened, then this…and if this happened, then this…
* * *
Until the day when I just decided that it was time for letting things go .
That day would be something of a first, for me, because typically I have the hardest time ” letting things go ,” but on this day letting go landed because I was under zero illusions that continuing to ruminate any longer was going to change anything. People do what they do. Let the lawyers handle it.
Letting things go looked like this: the next time I was on the phone with my lawyer, I said to him, “Just do whatever you think is best. You’re the legal expert. You tell me what you think the best approach is, and that’s what we’ll do.”
And then, I got back to my own work. I worked on my book. I got back to it with revising the curriculum for my life coach training program. I held a few coaching calls. I sipped a bit more wine, with friends.
Letting things go = life gets good.
Worrying about why people do what they do or what they might do, next, takes your focus away from your work, from innovating on and iterating into the next direction of your life or business. And especially in business, you’re not competing with anyone “out there.” You’re only ever competing with last year’s version of yourself.
I’m not talking about trying to somehow be “above it all,” or adopting some enlightened perspective that really just adds up to avoidance. Fear is real, and anxiety is real, and those have certainly come up. But after trying to figure this out and failing because it was inherently un-figure-out-able, at a certain point I just decided to throw up my hands. Let the lawyers work it out.
And in the meantime? I’d get back to doing the work, my work. You do you, boo.
There’s probably something in everyone’s life that they ruminate on, more than they’d like–a conversation they rehash, someone’s behavior, something that really needles them. I’ve got no easy answers when it comes to letting things go–which is to say that I don’t think it’s a simple, 1-2-3 approach that you can access, at all times.
I think only this: when you can, as often as you can, keep coming back to what you’re really about. You’re probably not really “about” that old conflict, or their behavior, or what so-and-so said (or immortalized in a legal complaint). You’re not “about” those things.
You’re about you, and your life. There’s nothing that anyone else can really take away from you. Even your peace of mind is under your own jurisdiction. Letting things go isn’t easy, but it’s definitely the path to freedom.
Most people I’ve met who are doing some kind of self-help work will hit on something that for them, really resonates. Then they declare, “I tried so many other things—and THIS is what REALLY works!”
They think they’ve found the Holy Grail of self-help. They become evangelists for it. Sometimes, a shadow self emerges that starts to denigrate other forms of personal work, scoffing at it as being somehow behind-the-times or incomplete (many coaches have this attitude towards therapy).
And hey, I’ve done this, too. We all have. It’s sheer arrogance and Ego that has anyone think they’ve found The Thing that is the Best Thing that should be what Everyone Does…and Ego is always driven by an insecure need to reassert its specialness.
It’s only through time and wisdom that we come to learn that there is no Holy Grail of self-help. There is no Holy Grail of anything.
All paths lead to one, and each process was a stepping-stone to another. The years spent doing therapy, while you might not have had your official “breakthrough” at that time, probably gave you foundational ways of looking at yourself through a different lens, or receiving compassion differently than you ever did from your family of origin. And the time spent meditating with that group probably gave you tools for assessing your body or accessing your inner world. And the time spent doing somatic release probably helped you to, well, release some pent up stuff that was stuck—
and if you have your big A-ha while doing work that’s cognitive-behavioral, that doesn’t mean that cognitive-behavioral work is better.
Wherever you have the a-ha, it doesn’t mean that that work is “better.”
It means that all those roads fed together in the intricate dance of who you are as a human being, and nourished the different parts of you in different ways, and one day, all of it came together to be incredibly resonant for you.
As soon as you get caught up in having “found the answer” and evangelizing for it, you’ve officially become caught in dogma.
Dogma always enters your life pretending that you are its master, when really, it has just laid down the slickest little rule book for how you have to live your life.
No one flourishes under the influence of dogma. Dogma becomes stale, eventually, and the tracks that were set for growth end up leading nowhere.
Ditch your dogma. Whatever it is that you think is sacred, knock it off its pedestal a bit, and see it in the greater scheme of all things. There is no one coach, methodology, book, guru, teacher, workshop that is “The One.”
Everything is playing its part in the dance of your life.
Sometimes when I meet my own stuck places, I find that the mantra that comforts me the most when I’m still right here in the messy, yet-to-be-transformed place but I wish I was over there in the nice, happy, transformed place, is this: “When something is ready to transform, it transforms.”
This is about acceptance. We have all of these choices coming at us, moment to moment to moment as for how we’re going to hold something. I’ve wrung my hands any number of times, thinking, “If I know better, then why aren’t I doing better? Why aren’t I doing things differently?”
Answer: When we know better but don’t do better, it’s because we don’t really truly know better, yet. When something is ready to transform, it simply does. It’s that basic and elemental. Things that are still resistant to transforming aren’t yet ready.
Can we all just have some love and acceptance now, for the places in our hearts that are still not ready to transform, that are still waiting? Will we risk loving ourselves anyway?
I loved this from Pema Chodron (from the classic, When Things Fall Apart):
“Perhaps nothing ever really attacks us except our own confusion. Perhaps there is no solid obstacle except our own need to protect ourselves from being touched. Maybe the only enemy is that we don’t like the way reality is now and therefore wish it would go away fast. But what we find as practitioners is that nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. If we run a hundred miles an hour to the other end of the continent to get away from an obstacle, we find the very same problem waiting for us when we arrive. It just keeps returning with new names, forms, and manifestations until we learn whatever it has to teach us about where we are separating ourselves from reality, how we are pulling back instead of opening up, closing down instead of allowing ourselves to experience fully whatever we encounter, without hesitating or retreating into ourselves.”
Transformation is a process.
To whatever degree we can open up some spaciousness for ourselves around our process, the better we’ll be able to get a wider picture, a clearer view, and a more informed perspective.
Often we think the thing to do is clamp down and work harder on “getting it right.” I know that I go there, thinking that I can grit my teeth and work harder to self-help myself out of a tough time. We’ve all done this.
But that’s contracting. That’s running a hundred miles an hour to the other end of the continent to hope that we won’t have to go through the messy middle part.
Let’s open something up, here. Let’s claim the places where we still haven’t transformed something, where we still want to hide, and just sit in that. “Hi, my name’s __________. I still want to hide in the areas of ________, __________, ________.”
When I claim those places, I notice that it feels much the way I feel after finally making an apology. Sure, I might feel embarrassed about something I’ve done, but it is such a relief to just apologize, to do my best to clean up my part and create connection.
Take out a sheet of paper, a journal (or feel free to use the comments). Write out the areas where you still want to let yourself hide. Then ask yourself: “If I know that nothing ever goes away until it has taught me what it needs me to know, what is this messy stuff that I wish I could avoid actually teaching me?”
Are you willing to have some love and acceptance in your heart for the places that are not yet willing to transform?