In writing this column over the years, I have often used the term “let it go”. But what does that even mean? According to a number of sources, the term “letting go” refers to the literal and figurative act of “refraining or resisting the ‘doing’ of something”; or, “to relinquish an emotional grip” that we might have on something or someone. Personally, I prefer the latter definition, as most often when we use the term “letting go” it is an emotional process more so than an actual action.
Throughout our lives, as most of us well know, we are forced to learn to let things go all the time. Whether is it by choice or coercion, we must learn to release the emotional grip we have on relationships, occupations, patterns of behavior, status symbols, etcetera. And whether we like it or not, this is good for us. Because, it lends itself to personal growth, and, eventually, it also will lead to peace.
…Or will it? It seems to me that letting go does not actually bring us peace until we also learn to let those very same things be. And “letting be” cannot happen without letting go, for the two are not quite the same. As defined above, letting go involves releasing the emotional grip we have on whoever or whatever it is that we have become attached to, thus setting it free. Whereas letting it be is to learn to accept what is and sit with how things are once we have let something go.
To “let it be” is to leave things alone, whether we want to or not. It is to resist the temptation to engage with, meddle, or interrupt whatever is going on within us and around us. It is to sit with the emotions that arise, no matter how unpleasant, so that these feelings may be processed and healed. To let be is to ride the waves of our innermost experiences just as they are, whether we are content with them or not. It is tending to these emotional experiences without suppressing, repressing, numbing, or turning to something else as a distraction. It is to take a very honest and raw look at what is left after our letting go, and to be still. It is sitting with one’s self, and all that we feel and experience and giving them time.
After letting go, to let it be is to find a way to accept “all that is” in that moment. To have faith. And, eventually, to move inward, onward, and forward.