Letting Go and Packing a Lighter Load for Our Life Journey

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“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” -Lao Tzu

The other night, I caught a glimpse of the movie Wild, the biographical memoir of a woman named Cheryl Strayed who hiked hundreds of miles alone on a journey of self-discovery. One scene portrayed the interaction between Cheryl (played by Reese Witherspoon) and a man named Ed whom she encounters early on her journey, at one of the rest stops. She enters with a bulky hiking pack, which looks to weigh over a hundred pounds, and Ed offers to help her lighten and repack her load.

Cheryl accepts, and they proceed to go through her belongings and weed out the unnecessary, which includes a pack of condoms, camera equipment, and several heavy books. She mentions being uncertain of what she needed until she actually started her journey.

The scene made me think of how often we go through life with a heavier load than we intended. If we aspire for more, our goals and dreams may be tugging at our hearts to move forward, but the resistance pulls us back. And whether we have goals and dreams or not, many of us fill our schedules and spaces with activities and belongings that weigh us down more than we actually realize. We allow the extraneous to get in our way. Sometimes we even get in our own way.

The thing is, if we want something badly enough… we have to let go of the things that hold us back and weigh us down. These include:

  • Distracting activities that pull us away from our dream, like social media, television, and projects that don’t really fire us up
  • Self-defeating thoughts full of doubt, fear, and worry – these thoughts can come out of nowhere, and no one is immune, but we can always be aware of them and work through that inner resistance
  • Poor decisions that lead to negative consequences – these add on layers of worry where they don’t need to be
  • Negative and toxic people – association is key, and if we allow these people to influence us by spending too much time with them and taking what they say to heart, they will drag us down
  • Other things we’re attached to that clutter up our lives, that are no longer serving our highest needs – they can be both tangible or intangible

With each decision to keep holding on, we hold ourselves back from who we’re meant to become. If we want more, we have to become more. So take off your pack and evaluate what you’ve brought with you on the journey. Chances are, it’s too much. I recently reflected on my own pack and realized that some decisions I had made were weighing me down in the form of worry and regret. And while I did wallow in despair for a moment, the pack did not get lighter until I owned my decision and took responsibility and action toward making the best of it. You can do the same with your life – here’s how:

  • Look at the map. Take a long, hard look at where you currently are and where you want to be. Where do you want to go, and where are you on that map?
  • Be realistic about what it takes to get there. Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but if you’re going after a huge dream, you’re going to have to let go of more than if you were going after a small one. And that’s because you have to be willing to give something up (even if temporarily) to get something new. So be real with yourself: what are you willing to give up to get there?
  • Evaluate what you’ve brought along with you. You can lighten your load by unlearning negative habits, disassociating yourself with negative people, simplifying your space, and removing distracting activities from your life. Let go of these with a sense of responsibility, because you cannot let go completely without owning up to your decisions. However, it’s also freeing to know that you have control over letting go and that you can continually choose what’s better for you.
  • Continue on the path, but be aware of what you’re picking up along the way. You are never completely free from the power of influence and from bringing things into your life. These will inevitably happen. But as you continue on the path, you can constantly be mindful of what’s coming in, and re-evaluating whether it needs to stay. It’s all about making better choices.

All of these steps will ultimately shape you into the person you need to be to reach your goal. You will attract your dream to you not only by actively working towards it, but also by becoming the person who deserves it.

If you are feeling weighed down and overwhelmed, I highly recommend our Let It Go Challenge. The challenge is simple- let go of at least one unique thing every day for 21 days (because it takes 21 days to create a new habit). The challenge is free and consists of an email challenge with email check-ins and great reflection questions so you can work on the habit of letting go with more ease and grace.

I’d love to hear from you, because we’re almost a quarter into the year and that’s a great time for some self-reflection. What goals have you set for yourself this year and have you evaluated your pack? What can you let go of?

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