“Let go or be dragged.” ~ Zen Proverb
Sometimes you come across something so profound, so striking that it makes you pause and rethink everything. For me, it was these words, “Let go or be dragged.” In doing a little research, the Zen proverb refers to the principle of non-attachment, of being present right here, right now.
Now, I am no Zen Master, nor do I profess to possess any inner Zen (truthfully, I am the person giggling at the back of the yoga class), but this is what this means to me: let go of all the things that no longer serve you (or perhaps never served you) OR be ruined by them.
What we continue to hold onto will pull us in directions we don’t necessarily want to go. Hold on long enough, and that seemingly insignificant thing can drag us down. What are you holding onto that no longer serves you? A false belief? A bad habit? A negative friend? A destructive pattern? An irrational fear? Whatever it is, it’s time to let it go or be dragged.
Sometimes these patterns, these beliefs aren’t even ones we are aware of. And yet they continue to pull on us, forcing us to follow their lead. It would seem that the more we fight them, the more we hold onto them, the greater their power in dragging us.
Exactly what you need to let go of is entirely up to you to determine, but here are a few things to consider:
Perfection — Give yourself permission to be good with good enough. If you think about it, perfection is an impossible standard to strive for and a guaranteed way to get stuck at go. Start with getting it done and out there, and then (and only then) go back and work on revising and (yes) even perfecting it.
Ego — Stop holding yourself back because of the fear of damaging your ego. If you mess up, so what? Mistakes don’t magically attach themselves to you, forever marking you in some tangible way. They happen, you move on. End of story. Now go out there and do what you need to do!
Appearances — Give up the endless pursuit of the metaphorical Joneses and their picture-perfect lives. The truth of the matter is the Joneses are asshole and if you knew what went on behind-the-scenes, you wouldn’t want to be like them anyway. Just show up as yourself and you’ll never go wrong (and anyone who doesn’t like you for you, well…you know what your mother would say on the subject).
Control — Stop struggling against the impossible and simply allow the process to work. I call it “Letting go of the reins” when you just give into the circumstances and let whatever is going to happen happen. Not to be confused with apathy or powerlessness, this acceptance is useful in situations when the outcome is likely to be the same regardless of how much you struggle.
Hang-ups — Release all those inner shoulds and should nots that dictate what you can and can’t do and ask yourself, “Does it REALLY matter? Like in 50 years matter?” If you’re talking about going out of the house in pyjamas, the answer is definitely no (regardless of what other people say on the subject).
Relationships — Step back from people (and situations) that drain you. You know the telltale signs of a toxic friendship by the way you feel after you interact with that person. Just as your habits and beliefs either elevate you or bring you down, relationships can do the same. If it’s a person, say good-bye. If it’s an unavoidable situation, just come prepared to protect your energy from the toxic vibes.
What do you need to let go of before it drags you?