Responding to last week’s journaling prompts, The Importance of Ritual, Lynn wrote: “I’ve released my rituals, and if they were mine, they’ll either come back to me or be replaced by something better for this time in my life.” As I read her words, I felt suddenly lighter, as though a load had been lifted from my shoulders, and I realized that rituals—comforting and important as they are—can become attachments, adding weight to our daily lives. To let go of attachment to anything can bring a great sense of relief.
Letting go means surrendering to what is, rather than holding onto how we think things are supposed to be—recognizing and relaxing into the reality of a situation rather than straining against its boundaries.
Yet there’s much to be said for holding on and pushing forward in spite of obstacles. The American Way and The American Dream are both built on the principle of not giving up. Personally, I don’t see letting go to be the same as giving up, or surrender—in this context—to defeat. To me, letting go is more like a pause in the action, a clearing of the mind and heart so you can rethink and regroup and renew. But I know there are plenty of people who might disagree, who believe we should never let go or release, even momentarily, something that is important to us; after all, without pushing forward through obstacles, how do we achieve anything? On which side of this argument do you find yourself?
This week’s journaling prompts will help you explore your feelings about letting go and giving up and how to find the line between the two.
- Is letting go of an idea or action the same as giving it up? Why or why not? Where do the differences, if any, lie between these two ideas?
- Divide a page into two columns. Label the left column “Surrender,” and then brainstorm a list of ideas, events, memories, and emotions that you associate with surrender. When you are done, label the right column “Defeat,” and then brainstorm a list of associations. What are the similarities and differences between the two lists? What are the emotional or conceptual differences, if any, and what do they mean to you? If you were to draw a cartoon representing each word, what would the cartoon look like? (Draw the cartoon, if you wish, before describing it.)
- What is your emotional response to the popular saying, “Let go and let God”? If you were to express this differently, in your own words, what would you say?
- Write down any responsibilities, commitments, To-Do’s, and things you want to do that are weighing on you. Now, one at a time, focus on each item in your list and say aloud, “I release/let go of ________.” What is your emotional response to saying this, and what does it mean to you? Write about each item separately.
- Freewrite for ten minutes, beginning with, “To surrender means…”
- Growing up, what were you taught—overtly or through example and attitude—about the idea of letting go and/or surrendering an effort or idea? Who taught you this? Was it parents, siblings, extended family, school, religion, and/or surrounding social culture? Of these, which had the greatest influence on your attitudes toward this subject?
- Thinking about all that you’ve written and discovered so far, if there was one thing you could change about your attitudes and/or behavior, what would it be, and how do you think that change would affect your life?
Now, I’m releasing this topic into your hands. What do you think, or what have you discovered about yourself through writing about Surrender and Release?
Image Credit: Leo Grübler