8 steps that help you to figure out whether you should let go.

Some of us think holding on makes us strong. But sometimes it is letting go.- Hermann Hesse

My thoughts about “letting go” start with a little time travel. With a trip to my childhood.

I remember the time quite well, the colourful time of balloons. They decorated lovely birthday parties. Often filled my kid’s mind with joy during boring visits to trade fairs or electronics retailers.

And best of all, they could even … fly (not to mention the funny voices possible after breathing in their “air”)!

These balloons were tied gently to my wrist when I was a little girl, so I could not – childishly clumsy – let go by mistake and burst onto tragic tears. But the few times that this did happen, held something magical. The balloon, so plump and lightweight, full of air and the unknown; I watched as it climbed up to heaven. I saw the balloon win the fight. Yes, win. And eventually disappear to where it had been drawn to: the vast sky.

I watched it for a long time. Dreamily. Until it disappeared from sight. What does the balloon see during its journey? A question that gave my child-self, a treasure trove of colourful pictures. These pictures ranged from, “My pet rabbit Lisa now holds him in her paw” through, “There is a cloud that shelters all the lost balloons” to “The balloon is flying around the whole world …”.

And I wanted to prevent that trip with a string and a knot.
Prevent it.
Hold it.
Prevent the balloon from following its own path. Preferring to keep it with me, not to let it go where it dreamed, so desperately wanted to fly to.

My own field trial (I admit, its a few years ago) lead to the following conclusions: There are two possibilities in a balloon’s life.

  1. At first I seem to win. I take the balloon to my children’s room, where it sticks to the ceiling for a few days. Watching the playing child. Silently. Completely silent. Heaven seems inaccessible. The window stays closed. Then it dies, slowly, loses its air, loses its grip. It falls to the ground. The colourful balloon ends as rubbish. A new balloon will come soon! So plump and lightweight, full of air and the unknown.
  2. It wins the battle, frees itself from the child’s hand and flies away. Flying high!

The balloon stands – in the following – for something that does not feel good in our lives. For something that does not seem to be in the right place. For something that we are holding on to, and we are not sure if it is really good for us. For something that is crying out for a different direction.

Is there such a balloon in your life? 

The balloon image can stand, for example, for the following (and much much more …):

  • People in our life, that do not feel good, who in worst cases even hurt us.

    When people don’t feel right, or when they seriously hurt you, then you should think about letting them go. Maybe the following questions will help you:
    how much positivity did this person-balloon bring you in the last 6 months? And how much negativity? Which is there more of the positive or the negative? Letting go of a person-balloon often feels difficult. Nevertheless, sometimes it is simply best to let it go. You’ll feel it inside when it’s time to let go. You are brave. Let go! Create space for something new.

  • Worry, about something that may possibly occur in the future.

    Oh, anxious crystal-ball gazing. You feel worried, because something could happen, theoretically, sometime. Maybe the following question might help you:
    What is the likelihood of it actually occurring? Let the worries go. They do not help you at all. They trigger your fears. Create space for your dreams. Focus on goals, this is much more effective than swimming in worries. 

  • Jobs, that trap us and do not make us happy.

     Yes, it is important to make money. No question about it. However, we must ask ourselves whether the hours, days and weeks that we spent at work, being in a bad mood, feeling demotivated, not seeing the sense but experiencing stress, are in the right proportion to the time not spent at work.
    What alternatives are there for you? What does life offer you instead? What prevents you from letting it go, your job-balloon? What about looking for a new job-balloon? Looking for a job that suits you. And that you suit to. There are many colourful job-balloons out there. I am sure there is also the right one for you out there.

  • Perfection.

    Let it go.
    You do not need it.
    It’s that simple. 

  • Hobbies that do not beam you with joy.

    “I need to go to basketball more often” or “I have not been to my yoga class for a long time …”. Do you know these phrases? If so, then I ask you: why have you not been to your yoga class or basketball for such a long time? No time? Or …. (are they simply other words for “no time”?) you do not feel like going there? Both are totally ok! If you have had no motivation for what seems like ages, then resign your membership. It’s that simple. It does not seem to be the right hobby for you. Let it go. Pick up a new hobby. One that brings you joy, motivates and drives you. Most “I should do something more often” sentences are a good indication to: let it go.

  • Life plans that we once forged and now pursue proudly, without questioning or adapting while we change.

     We do change. All the time. Our needs develop and we need to experience them and get to know them. At 18, did you really already know what truly drives and motivates you? Is your former life plan still valid and attractive to you today? Maybe you already live it and you are super happy with it. If so, congratulations! Hold it firmly, your life(plan)-balloon. It’s a golden treasure. But what if not? What if it is not you sitting at the wheel of your life bus, but someone else? Ask yourself: Is this life that I’m striving for seriously desirable to me? How many of my personal needs are being met by my life plan? If it does not feel good for you: Let it go. Create a new plan. Create a life that makes you happy. 

  • Doing things to please others.

    Start with yourself first. Please yourself. That makes you independent, free, honest and kind. As a result, you automatically appeal to others. Because you’re your authentic self. Is there anything better than being your authentic self? 

  • Controlling. Yourself and others.

    See perfection. Let go. Quickly. Let it go. Fly.

May I again remind you of the two possibilities in a balloon’s life?

  1. First, you seem to win. So you hold it tight, your balloon, which is calling for change. One day it sticks to the ceiling, watching you, maybe it even bothers you there. But it stays. Eventually it loses its air. You start losing your air as well. Noisily or silently. The window stays closed. The balloon loses its grip. You lose yours as well. It falls to the ground. Where are you?
  2. The balloon convinces you to let it go. It flies away. And you fly your way. Flying high!

To make it clear: Letting go of a balloon does not mean giving up! Giving up is rooted in fear. Releasing is rooted in trust. Trust that the future it brings suits us better than what we are letting go. Letting go makes room for something new. Giving up, creates a place inhabited by fear. So there is no room for something new.

Have you let go something lately? How did you feel afterwards? 

Yours Nele

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