Letting Go…and Having More!

Have you ever had to let go of a dream?

False dreams can keep you locked in an emotional prison.

Perhaps you’ve had to accept some personal limitation: that you will never break three hours in a marathon, see your company go public or have another child. It is often hard to let go of something you really wanted or worked hard for. Maybe you even convinced yourself that you failed… or that it was just not meant to be.

Gut-wrenching fear gripped me as I rode the dotcom crash down in 2000. I suddenly found myself upside down on most every asset I owned, from mountain condos to private company stock. My initial fear gave way to sorrow as I sold, restructured and refinanced. I could not escape the truth of new asset values and timeframes.

Months before the crash I had begun to sense that something was not working in my life. Why wasn’t I enjoying the abundance I was creating? Why were my sights always set on getting more?

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was standing on the edge of a deep crevasse of emptiness. Having so much and yet feeling so empty represented a long-standing pattern throughout my adult life. Using position, money, toys and real estate to validate myself had become a futile path to happiness.

Yet this strategy had become my entire way of life. It was not working for me but I had become addicted to it. I knew I was addicted when the more I got, the less of a high it provided. It began to dawn on me that I had spent my life attached to a dream that depended on others to buy into. My accumulation of wealth and power was an unconscious scheme to validate who I was and prove that I had “the right stuff.” No wonder it was difficult to enjoy what I had and so terrifying to let it go.

Fortunately life offers us the magnificent gift of wake-up calls and crises. If not for my financial crash, I might have evolved a little over the years, but nothing dramatic. I might have changed vocational roles, but I’d still be locked in the same mental prison I’d been creating for myself. I would never have realized what I really needed — versus what I thought I wanted. But instead I was forced to look closely at the impact of my choices on others. With this new awareness, I re-prioritized how I spent my time; I simplified my life and opened up to those deeper desires that money cannot buy.

During this process I evolved to a new level of consciousness, one that allowed me to see what was of lasting value and to move toward it. This opening (an opening which I think is available to everyone, now more than ever) allows me to decipher what is real and what is an illusion or dream; what is permanent and what is merely temporary.

Whether on a personal, organizational or social level, it often takes life’s seemingly brutal and sometime subtle wake-up calls to make us see what is not working. Fearlessly stepping forward and letting go of what is not working is the only way we can truly redefine our values. As a friend once told me, breakdowns often precede breakthroughs.

For breakthroughs to occur, we must let go of dreams and face the hard truth of our lives and world. Breakthroughs require us to confront the impermanence in all things. The Buddha taught that resistance to the reality of impermanence is the cause of our suffering. We pray and hope that things won’t change, when in fact nothing our small minds can grasp remains the same. We can then let go to something more meaningful.

The great irony is that in letting go of our attachments we can enjoy what we have. Once I stopped regarding money and “success” as means to validate myself, I could enjoy these things so much more and, paradoxically, have more of them. Moreover, I could lead, love and parent more clearly, from a place of joy and satisfaction!

I discovered a vast new richness in life when I decided to move beyond my old, worn-out dream. I began to experience my life more fully as it unfolded. I became more present. This is a simple concept, but requires on-going practice. Life is unfolding perfectly while we are busy dreaming, attaching to our dreams, projecting, planning for the future, gaming the system, jockeying for position, checking our PDAs and chasing the wants of which we can never get enough.

So many of my clients report similar experiences when they let go of who they thought they were and connect with their true nature. As one said recently, “Having taken a deeper look at my life I have greater insight into the choices I am making as a leader, rather than being driven by fear, anger, and simply wanting more of everything”.

If you take a closer look beneath your own protective layers and illusions, you may find that most of your life is a dream. Most of us carry around a story we make up about who we are.

Letting go of false dreams can lead to new awareness of blessings.

What parts of your life do you need to let go of? What values are you attempting to redefine so you can enjoy what you already have? What personal work is calling to you? What and who awaits you on the other side of your breakthrough?

These times call us to recognize what is real, what is missing in our lives, and what price we have been paying to attempt to fill the emptiness. The times call us to live the adventure and discover the joy that comes with letting go. Through such explorations we naturally develop deep gratitude for the sufficiency of our lives; and quite unexpectedly, we begin to experience the availability, abundance and permanency of what we have always wanted most.

I’d love to hear your stories about how you have shifted what is of value to you!