Knowing When to Let Go

by | Aug 9, 2017 | Blog

Growing up and living around alcoholics, I became a fixer. Doing everything within my power to make sure things worked. I bent over backwards in personal relationships. Work proved to be a never-ending opportunity to jump in and be the hero to save a failing project.

I filed down the rough edges.

I worked extra hard to make sure mistakes weren’t made in order to not be associated with failure.

I held onto friendships and relationships long after their shelf date.

So much around me felt out of control. I grabbed onto anything I could in order to feel like I could rein something in. I took on responsibility that wasn’t mine. All to feel like things would be OK.

I put what I really wanted on the back burner. I spent so much mental and physical effort on trying to make things work that I lost much of myself in the process.

So how did I come back to me and learn to let go?

I now have multiple barometers.

  • Does what I’m doing feel like an obligation?
  • Does it feel like I’m “managing” a situation?
  • Am I’m getting nowhere despite prolonged effort?

I went through this with my decision to leave my program management profession on Wall Street. My efforts for a new role were lackluster. I found lots of excuses as to why a potential role wouldn’t work:

  • It was a repeat of an old job.
  • I wanted something that was interesting.
  • The commute was too long, etc., etc.

After a few months of this I finally got honest with myself and admitted that after 27 years, I didn’t want to go back. It had served me well and it was time for something new.

This also happened after my divorce. I tried to find a way to make the relationship work. Until I stopped overthinking and listened to my intuition, getting to the realization that I couldn’t trust that he wouldn’t drink again (see June blog – ).

In both of these cases, I was trying to make something work that I ultimately didn’t want. I was letting my mind rule my efforts. Full brute-strength. In both cases, I took time to stop thinking about what I wanted and I started to feel into what I wanted. I listened to my heart.

My propensity to manage things and try to make them work is a trait in many of us who’ve lived around alcoholism. I made decisions and put effort into things I “thought” were good at the time.

I’m much more attuned to the signs of where I’m trying to manage, rather than letting life flow. I now dust myself off and move forward. Some of my most valuable lessons have been from the challenges.

Trusting my intuition and listening to my heart serves me well.

Fully stepping away from the relationship with my ex-husband allowed me to focus on rediscovering myself. The self I lost over so many years of trying to manage his drinking.

Less than 2 months after making the decision to not go back to Wall Street, the idea came to me to write my book.

In both cases, I let go of trying to make something work that although familiar, wasn’t in my heart because it wasn’t really what I wanted. Familiar isn’t always good for us.

Because your heart being happy for the major things in your life is what it’s all about.

Take a look around. What are you holding onto where it might be time to let go?

Stephanie B. McAuliffe
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