Photo Credit: Ankush Minda, Unsplash.com

Written by Jeff Newman
June 5, 2020

All through my 62 years, I came to understand that a good portion of my stress, anxiety, and signs of depression were attributed to my unwillingness to let go; to let go of holding onto things, objects, relationships, and businesses–hoping that everything would work out when in reality they wouldn’t.

Which complicated my life personally, emotionally, and financially.

I could remember back in college at the University of Maryland the pain and frustration I lived for three years because I chose to play soccer instead of focusing on my studies and graduating with the fulfillment of the four-year experience. Sure, I reasoned my scholarship paid a good portion to attend school there, but I could also blame my family’s financial circumstances and being the first in the family to ever go to college to stop me from following that path.

I knew then that the school wasn’t right for me and rather than going to a smaller, local school, I stayed on and almost flunked out. My anxiety was through the roof and self-confidence below the radar. I was able to play Semi-Pro soccer in Israel and returned back to the States and graduated.

I was 26-years-old when I started my first company: Newco Data. A one-man operation that grew to a multi-million-dollar organization over the span of 22 years. If you were to be that “Wallflower” looking from the outside in you’d believe that Newco Data was a self-made prophecy. The truth? I should have scaled down the business and listened to my executives, accountants, and consulting company when they told me that I was in trouble.

I just couldn’t let go.

My plethora of life circumstances could’ve been avoided–which may have taken me elsewhere in my journey for peace and harmony. Maybe you have your own “deliverables” that could have changed your course in life? I’m certain you do.

I’ve come to understand that the root cause of me and most human stress is simply my stubborn propensity to hold onto things. In a nutshell, I hold on tight to the hope that things will go exactly as I imagine, and then I complicate my life to no end when they don’t.

So how can I stop holding on?

By realizing that there’s nothing to hold onto in the first place.

Most of the things I desperately try to hold onto–as if they’re real, solid, everlasting fixtures in my life–aren’t really there. Or if they are there in some form, they’re changing, fluid, impermanent, or simply imagined in my mind.

Life gets a lot easier to deal with when I accept this.

Imagine you’re blindfolded and treading water in the center of a large swimming pool, and you’re struggling desperately to grab the edge of the pool that you think is nearby, but really it’s not—it’s far away. Trying to grab that imaginary edge is stressing you out, and tiring you out, as you splash around aimlessly trying to hold onto something that isn’t there.

Now imagine you pause, take a deep breath, and realize that there’s nothing nearby to hold on to. Just water around you. You can continue to struggle with grabbing at something that doesn’t exist . . . or you can accept that there’s only water around you, relax, and float.

One of my coaching exercises is guiding my client through this process of perspective change—and helping them let go through life’s twists and turns.

My truth is, inner peace begins the moment I take a new breath and choose not to allow an uncontrollable event to dominate me in the present. I’m not what happened to me. I’m what I choose to become at this moment.

Let go, breathe, and begin.

Photo Credit: Ankush Minda, Unsplash.com