2011: The Year of Letting Go

I tend to get introspective during the Holidays. It’s natural. The end of a year invites reflection both about the time gone by and what’s to come. The truth is that this annual reflection can be a bit daunting, as I tend to spend way too much time in my head anyway. Adding more focused intensity to my day-to-day (over) thought-process is enough to make my head explode (not to mention what it does to those around me!).

The end of 2010 feels different, however. Instead of focusing on and analyzing everything (and, I should note that this focus doesn’t always only include what’s happened in the last year, but can include all kinds of events, people, etc., from years and years before), it has become clear that it’s simply time to let go.

There is so much crap muddled in my head that my ability to simply make the right decisions sometimes gets marginalized. There are a number of people who I believe have wronged me – mostly professionally – and I’ve let their actions weigh heavily on whether or not I can feel proud of the achievements that I have been fortunate enough to be part of. I can’t begin to explain how dramatically (and often) spite has dictated my own actions. And, frankly, spite is not a very good friend. It’s a first cousin of hate, or more simply, as my 5-year old would tell me, “It’s on the dark side.”

Shining the light inward, as well, there are also those (too many, perhaps), whom I have “wronged” in some way. Professionally and personally. The truth is that these people and what I may have done, or have perceived to have done, to them are also a big part of my annual mental burden. And it goes way, way back. I may still beat myself up for personal, hurtful mistakes I made two, three, five years ago. Or 10. Instead of spite driving the feelings, it’s guilt, which toes the line between the light and dark sides. Guilt is rooted in good, I think, as we feel badly for actions and wish that we had done better. That’s good, in a way. But the result is very, very dark.

I know I’m not alone in this. I know many of us have had professional experiences that have left us filled with anger. We’ve all had personal hurts that have left us feeling unable to cope. Or, we’ve hurt someone and we take the bad feelings with us for years and years. Enough with the spite. Enough with the guilt. It’s time to just let go. It’s time to unpack the baggage.

We all have baggage. But, we let that baggage interrupt so much good. We hang on to that baggage so tightly that we can’t even see that we’ve lost all feeling in our fingers. Or worse. In our hearts and souls. As the New Year rings in, I’m not making any resolutions about getting my finances in order or getting in shape. Instead, I think it’s time to take a far more sweeping approach and let go. I forgive myself for any damage that I’ve done. And, I forgive others for whatever damage I perceive they’ve done to me, which…in retrospect…is probably nothing. I’ve done more damage worrying about these old events than the events themselves did.

I came to this realization that it was time to let go in the midst of a particularly intense session on the rowing machine. I find that working out is the best time for reflection. My best ideas come while running, rowing, walking, or hiking. What was amazing about this discovery to let go is that my workout sucked. And, as soon as I thought, “It’s time to let go,” I had the most intense workout that I can remember. It was so loose. Free. Because “letting go” is all about the light side. It’s not related to hate; it’s all about love. Letting go is all about possibility. It’s about seeing opportunity and what is right…where spite and guilt could only see what is wrong.

So, as the year comes to a close – I offer this to those whom I have kept close to me so that I could prove something to you, doing things “in spite of you:” Goodbye. It’s time for you to go. I genuinely wish you the best of luck. And to those who I have done the same: I’m sorry. Genuinely.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year. Enjoy 2011: The Year of Letting Go.

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