The Union Path Podcast
"The Art of Embracing Change and Letting Go"
It takes courage to let go. Letting go is hard. Letting go can be really difficult. Letting go can mean going against the grain of expectation, of momentum, of just doing something different than we've always done. That can be really hard. It can be really difficult to act out of character for ourselves. It can be really difficult to change. This is something that we don't really give ourselves a lot of grace around. Oftentimes change is really difficult because change happens in a way that we're not really aware of while the change is happening. That changes often a multi-step process where we have to actually walk through the process to understand what's actually going on, to really be able to see what's actually changing.
So many of us have developed habits around pushing around, persevering around grit around, just digging deeper, pulling ourselves out by the bootstraps. Just continue going on, no matter what. But I think we can see that there's a bit of a fallacy in this or, at the very least, this is an incomplete way to look at our lives, because this is all done with an assumption that whatever direction we're going is the right one, is the best one, is the correct one, and of course, that's not always true. Sometimes we need to change, sometimes we need to turn. Sometimes we need to make a 180 and turn completely around. But it's really difficult to know what to do in the moment when we're actually confronted with opportunities to change, because I think it's really easy to overlook the pressure of momentum, especially if it's something we've been working on or working at or being for a long time. It can be really difficult to change because we have so much momentum pushing us in the direction of whatever we've been. And when we get confronted with necessary change, a lot of times there can be kind of an automatic rejection of that premise.
I think it's really difficult to look at what's happening and really be honest with ourselves, really be honest with the fact that things that we're trying to do aren't working, because a natural reaction, natural inner commentary can say no, they just haven't worked yet. And sometimes that's true. Sometimes it is perseverance that's required, sometimes it is required to keep going. But the core of our action needs to be a sense of trust, needs to be a sense of trusting ourselves, a sense of knowing where we're going or, at the very least, knowing where we want to go. And these can be the most confusing times when we've kind of lost the thread on what we actually want, when our lives kind of feel random, that our plans feel unformed and arbitrary, that we're just bouncing from thing to thing to thing but we don't really feel like we're actually getting anywhere Because we've kind of lost the plot, we've lost our own story about where we're going and why.
And especially if we've built up big calluses and strong habits around perseverance, around resilience, around keeping going, we can simultaneously have underdeveloped our own skills of letting go, because an ideal approach to our own life isn't ever just one thing, it isn't ever just one way of being. Living life in a skillful way is about balance, it's about flexibility, it's about openness, it's about really being able to reckon with the present moment and being able to honor what's actually true, what's actually happening. And sometimes we can reach a point where we just feel kind of burned out and kind of out of gas. But if we don't know any other way than persistence, if we don't know any other way than just putting our head down and continuing to just push and push and push, the clarity, the salvation that letting go could possibly bring us can easily be overlooked, can easily be missed. I think this is a common thing as we're growing up and maturing through life.
I'll speak for myself anyway that as a younger person I would push a whole lot more than I do now. It's kind of one of the benefits of mid-age, of not having quite the energy that I used to, is that I can't persist pushing at something that isn't really giving anything back, doesn't really seem to be going anywhere, that I just can't really fool myself as well as I used to. I can't really delude myself. I can't really keep going with things that don't show any signs of working as long as I used to. Now I look back at a lot of that youthful pushing. A lot of it was definitely educational. I definitely learned a lot, but it's also a pretty big waste of time and energy that if I would have focused on more of what I actually wanted, if I would have focused on more of the known, if I would have been willing at times to let go, I would have actually gone far further, because this habit of pushing can lock us into ruts that can just turn into loops of where we can just push and push and push and not really get anywhere but not really see that the problem is our own pushing, that our own pushing has become a form of resistance to the very change that we're trying to create in our own lives. So, in difficult situations are presented to us or we just feel kind of confused and we don't know what to do.
I think it's important to ask ourselves well, have we tried letting go? Have we tried the opposite of what we've always done? If we have habits around pushing, if we have habits around forcing, if we have habits around control, have we actually tried letting go? Because I think there's a really common fear around surrender, around letting go, that if we stop, everything will go away. That entire life is predicated on our own continuous, strenuous effort, and there are definitely things where that is true. There are definitely things where it does take work, it does take effort, it does take time in order to make things happen, but that isn't universal, especially when it comes to times where we're not really even sure what we want to be doing, when we've kind of lost the thread of our own life. Oftentimes these are going to be really excellent times. You just stop, you just let go, stop pushing so hard.
In my professional history I've worked on a lot of projects that have been ranged from products to services to companies themselves. And one thing that I learned through banging my head against walls over and over and over again is to really be sensitive to whether an idea really has legs, really has merit on its own, can really stand by itself of where. I'm not just trying to sail a sailboat, being the only one blowing in my own sails, but when it comes to launching a product or a business or anything else, there has to be a sense of push and pull. There has to be a sense of what I'm putting out there is actually needed, is actually wanted, and sure, it can be a tremendous amount of work, a tremendous amount of quote, unquote pushing in order to have whatever I'm working on develop whatever critical mass it needs in order to start to spread. There needs to be evidence that there's a market out there, that there are people out there, that there's a need out there that, once presented to them, will start doing a little bit of pulling, that it's not just me foisting my ideas on other people. This is a dialogue, this is a conversation, this is cooperation, this is working to apply something that's actually needed rather than trying to force others to need whatever I'm offering.
And so, a lot of times in this situation where I've got myself into pushing really hard, I needed to let go because I was not really acting with clarity, I was acting out of assumption, I was acting out of habit, I was just continuing to do the same things that weren't really working, over and over and over again, thinking with enough effort I can overwhelm whatever faults there are in my plans, when in hindsight it's much easier to just work a better plan, to actually work a good idea, rather than trying to apply force to flip a bad idea into good. And we can see this in our own lives. We can see this in the patterns of how we live our lives, especially when we want something. It can be so easy to just push and push and push and just attempt to find a way to make whatever we want real. But if we're not actually listening, if we're not actually taking in the evidence that's being presented back to us, then that isn't cooperative, that's coercion, that's control, that's us trying to dominate someone or something else to do what we want. That's really more manipulation than cooperation.
And the funny thing is we can do this with ourselves. We can do this through habits of where we think that hard work and perseverance is the solution for everything. And again, sometimes those things are the solution, but sometimes the opposite is the solution. Sometimes, instead of pushing, we need to try quitting, we need to try letting go. At the very least, if we can set something down, and stop pushing it, stop trying to make it happen, stop applying our frantic effort towards something, we can actually see how important it really is to us, because sometimes we can get carried away with our own momentum. If we've just been doing something for so long we don't know any other way, we're kind of carrying ourselves along with the pushing that we've been doing, and it isn't until we surrender, it isn't until we give up, it isn't until we stop pushing, that not only can we see what something actually is, but we can see what's actually needed. We can see what our part of it actually is. We can step outside of ourselves, step outside of our own assumptions and opinions and actually listen and actually pay attention and actually bring awareness to what we're doing and not feel that we need to just push so hard that, in my opinion, it can be really valuable to explore surrender and giving up with whatever we do If we're not willing to even entertain the idea of giving something up, then that idea has its claws on us.
We're attached, and often that attachment can lead to really unhealthy behavior, the very least can lead to a lot of unconscious behavior. Then, unless we're willing to let something go, we're not really working with it freely. But on some level, freedom, liberation, needs to be at the core of what we do. If we get overly dependent on what we're doing and we lose our freedom, then we lose our perspective as well. We become far more internal. We have far much more tunnel vision. Our perspective is so much more limited. We can't really scan the horizon. We can't really rise above what we're doing and see what's actually going on. Our perspective is much more limited, is much more specific to only our own opinions, our only our own ideas of what things are.
It can be really useful to have those assumptions and opinions challenged from time to time. In another business example, in the businesses and startups that I've been involved with, I've never had one that didn't fundamentally change within 6 to 18 months of doing it, that I would start with an idea of what something was supposed to be, but then, through the effort of trying to bring that forth, of trying to make that real. It would be revealed to me what it's actually supposed to be, that, in business terms, this is usually called a pivot. You start out with one set of ideas, you go out into the world and you present these ideas and then usually you're presented with better ideas, because, of course, you don't know everything. Even more than that, if you're making something for other people, you only know what you would want. Of course, this can be a really good starting place. It's going to be a really good place to begin effort.
What actually matters is what other people want. What actually matters is whom this is for actually want what you're offering. It's much more of a conversation. It's much more of a dialogue. It's much more of a process of figuring each other out. It's much more of a relationship than it is just projecting our own individuality.
If we really want to be of service, if we really want to serve someone else, then we actually have to listen to what they want. It sounds really simple, but this can be so easily overlooked. We can apply this whole idea to ourselves as well. It's important to listen to ourselves. It's important to listen to what we actually want. Once we've listened, it's important to actually honor it.
If we're so caught up in pushing, if we're so caught up in trying, if we're so caught up in our own effort and momentum towards doing the same things we've already done just more and more and more we can miss that dialogue, we can miss that response, we can miss that clarity. It can actually help us be more effective. That actually helps us be better at what we do than whatever we're currently doing. We can miss the needed change because we're so adamant on continuing to just do whatever we've always done. We're not growing, we're not evolving, we're stagnant, we're not actually listening, we're not actually responding to the feedback that we're getting.
We're stubborn, we're obstinate, we're inflexible. Whenever these qualities leak into our life, it makes our life harder. That, of course, there are some things we should be inflexible and rigid about Things like our value system, things like our boundaries, even things like pursuing what we actually want. But then, at the same time, we need to be flexible, especially as we go out into the world. Instead of just trying to force our own vision of how things should be, we need to find the way. We need to find the fit of how to actually make what we want possible. We have to be flexible. Just like in any relationship, there's the individual that we bring into the relationship, and then there's the commonality, the us, that emerges in the relationship as well. We have to be two beings at the same time. We have to be part of an I and we have to be part of a we.
And again, if we've come to a point we don't really know what to do or, at the very least, our way hasn't really worked, it can be important to try surrender, it can be vital to try letting go, and in order to do so, it requires courage that, despite a lot of popular success, folklore, quitting and giving up is actually hard. Quitting and giving up often requires quite a bit of courage. It can be difficult to change, especially when that change wasn't expected, when that change is a result of something that we've learned through our interaction with the world, in a relationship with someone else, with something else. It's kind of like if we've ever been on a weight loss plan and been following a diet, like if we've ever tried this, we know that one of the best assets we can ever have is momentum.
The hardest part is the start. Sure, maybe the first few days are not that challenging because we've built up so much enthusiasm, so much expectation for wanting change. Once we kind of get over that honeymoon period, once the shine is kind of worn off this new plan and we hit the reality of the challenges this plan actually presents to us, plus also the reality of all the ways that we're going to need to change, that can be really hard. That's quite a blowback, that's quite a bit of initial resistance to come up against. If we can persevere through that time and then kind of stack days upon days upon days upon days upon days, things get a lot easier because we form new habits, we don't have to think so much, we don't have to deal with so much discomfort because we've kind of reached a new normal where everything doesn't feel quite as uncomfortable and chaotic and unpredictable because we're doing something new, because we've installed a bit of a new normal. We develop a comfort with that normal over time.
But then, moving a little further, it could be really difficult, once we have a good head of steam going, once we've been at something for a while, to really come to grips with the times when that plan doesn't actually work, to come to grips with the fact that not only we're not achieving our weight loss goals, but we feel awful, we're just slogging through every day. I just kind of feel like a pile of wet garbage most of the time. That can be a really difficult thing to honor. That can be a really difficult thing to even see, because we have so much hope, we have so much invested in this plan working and we've gotten to where we are through pushing and persevering, through our discomfort. It can be really difficult to then have to reconcile plans that don't actually seem to work. It's just so hard to build up that momentum in the first place that change is hard. Doing something different is hard. Building new habits is hard. Being different is hard. Doing something different is hard.
Once we kind of have our legs underneath us a little bit and have a little bit of momentum going in whatever new direction we've chosen, it can be really difficult to then have to say, actually I think I need to change again, actually I need to do something different. We can see this in other aspects of our life as well. If we've taken on a brand new job that we had a bunch of hope about, then we get a year in, two years in and realize that this actually isn't good, this actually doesn't really have a future, this isn't actually where I want to go and I don't really see a way forward that I actually want here. We can see this in relationships as well. Or if we get into things with a lot of hope, a lot of expectation, our emotions are involved, but then after a while and we realize that this isn't really for us, this isn't really what we want, it can be really difficult to then change again. It can be really difficult to face the double disappointment of Not only is this plan not all of we thought it was cracked up to be, this plan isn't really working but, even worse, all the hope that we had, all the expectation that we had Now it's been dashed as well.
It'd be really difficult to walk through life. We lose our hope, be really difficult to confront situations that we hoped would be a certain way, that we hoped would bring a certain thing, and Actually be able to reconcile and face the truth that they don't. Those are very difficult changes to make. It'll also be very difficult to just be going through life doing a whole bunch of things and realizing we're not actually sure if we want to be doing any of these things. We're not actually sure if we want any of the outcomes or rewards that any of these things Seem to promise. We're just doing things because that's what we've always done, or doing things because we expected we would get what we want. But now having to confront the fact that either that what we're doing won't actually deliver what we want or we don't actually want what we thought we did, that can be really difficult.
Truth can be really challenging, especially when we confront it in unexpected and inconvenient ways. But at a base level, at a fundamental level, truth is all we have. Truth is all that's real and sure. We can try to keep going. We can try to pretend that things aren't the way they are. We can continue with the false hope that maybe, maybe, try one thousand and one will work, when tries one through one thousand seem to just at best Keep me a standing still and actually pretty often mean taking steps backwards. But confronted with these realities, that can be really difficult.
And when we're confronted with situations in our life, especially if we've invested a lot ourselves into those situations, to even entertain, stopping, entertain, quitting, entertain, letting go, I can be really difficult. The very least, that's very easy fodder for our own fear, from fear to creep in and convince us that if we don't keep up our current effort, at the current rate that we're supplying that effort, everything will fall apart. Of course we all have Responsibilities, will have things we need to get done. We can't just willy-nilly jump in and out of situations whenever we'd like. Duties and responsibilities are real. And also we won't really help ourselves by thinking the solution to our problems is to all of a sudden act irresponsibly. It's all of a sudden just get really hyper, succeeded and self-obsessed and just do whatever we want all the time, not paying attention to the effect on other people, especially the people we care about. That obviously isn't an ideal or good solution to anything, but there are times there are more times than we would guess when faced with these sorts of situations, where the best answer is to let go, the best answer is to surrender, because us stopping, us surrendering, would allow us to break our own momentum, to actually be able to stop and see what's going on, actually look around, actually reevaluate.
Okay, when I started this, I got in with a certain set of expectations and ideas. But from where I am now? What do I want now? What do I want to do next? Give myself the freedom and the flexibility to reevaluate, reevaluate plans that I've made when it seems like new plans are needed, when it seems like I've lost touch with what's really going on. I've gotten out of sync with my own life. We're just adopting attitude that, when we don't know what to do, when the solution isn't obvious, a lot of times, if not most of the time, the best course of action is to pause. That we can create so many problems for ourselves.
We can perpetuate so much difficulty in our life by acting before we have clarity, by doing things before we have a clear intention, before we really understand why we're doing things, really understand what we're trying to get, really understand what we want, really understand what's important to us, really understand where we're going, what we're trying to get to, what kind of life are we really trying to live really matters to us. It's really easy to get locked in with certain momentum based on our own plans and expectations, but when those things have gotten out of sync with our life actually is, with our life actually feels, with the vision that we have of what direction we want our life to go, what we actually want to live and experience, it's important to bring our life back into alignment with ourselves, re-evaluate choices that we've made, reevaluate commitments that we've made, reevaluate plans and courses of action and expectations based on what we know now. And if we're confused, oftentimes the best way to get clarity is to stop, because we were so involved in frantic action. A lot of times all we can really think about is our action and we lose sight of the bigger picture. We lose sight of the whole, we lose sight of what's really going on and we just start compounding errors and mistakes and assumptions because we're not really seeing the truth. Our sight, our vision, is too narrow because it's focused on just maintaining our own activity, our own effort. We're not really bringing our awareness and our critical faculties to what we're actually doing, why we're doing what we're doing, asking what is this in service of? Is this what I actually want? Is this actually good? Does this work the way I think it does? Does this work for me the way I think it does? Does this work for others the way I think it does?
A lot of times, when we're off track, what's missing is some amount of clarity and awareness, and it's difficult to attain the clarity and awareness that we need from the inside of our own activity and effort. We need to stop to be able to see things from different perspective. We need to reevaluate what actually matters to us. We need to reevaluate what we're actually doing. We need to jump up a few layers. We need to take a view from over the top of what we're doing rather than only seeing from inside of what we're doing. And again, this takes courage.
This can be really hard, but when we feel out of sync with our own life, when we feel like our life doesn't really fit us anymore, when we feel like there's aspects of our life that aren't really us, they just don't really feel like they fit, they just aren't working. It can be really difficult, but it also can be really important to let go Break the dependence that we have on whatever we're doing, because the best decisions are made out of liberation and freedom. The best decisions are made out of a level of optionality, and some of the most difficult and uncomfortable experiences in our life are the ones that we don't feel like we have any say in, the ones that we feel captured by, the ones that we feel like we can't change, and one of the ways we can install and instill freedom in our own life is choosing to let go. Choosing to remove our own attachments to what we're doing, choosing to remove our own resistance to change. Then allow the clarity to come.
Know that by stopping, by surrendering, we create the space for new awareness, for new clarity, and that often that's precisely what the change that we want needs. That, more than needing us to do something different, it needs us to create the space. With the change to come in. It needs us to be able to create the space to be able to see things differently. That often times we can't do anything different until we can see differently what we've been doing.
But it's not so much our action that needs adjustment, it's our perspective, it's our awareness, awareness, are knowing that we need to grow, we need to realize some things that we haven't realized yet. We didn't know, some things that we don't currently know. In order for this to happen, we have to create the space for it to happen. It's like any creative process All creativity needs a container, it needs a space to live in and that by withdrawing but letting go, by surrendering, we can create a gap, we can create a void, we can create a space for which change can come in and occupy, because oftentimes it's the vacuum of surrender that creates the space for the change to enter. And just by letting go we can learn a lot. By letting go we can have our perspective expanded, we can really see what we've been doing, because we've created some space, we've created some availability of awareness to be able to see what we've been doing, be able to see what's really been happening, what the effects have really been, what the payoffs have really been, what our piece of it is, what other people's piece of it is, what's actually happening.
Because stillness is often a prerequisite for awareness. And the more awareness, the more truth, the more knowing we can bring to what we're doing, the better. The more awareness, the more knowing we bring to our life, the better our life will fit us. The more awareness, the more knowing we bring to our life, the more obvious the changes we need to make will be. And if our life needs to change, we can find that change by first learning to be still, first learning to pause, first learning to surrender, first learning to let go, first learning to create the space for that change that we need to enter. Take care, and all the best.
Transcribed by https://podium.page