I work hard to be present in my day to day life—to recognize the seen and unseen images, forces, thoughts and opportunities that cross my path. It’s why Dr Marry and I have been able to livestream 185 episodes of Daily Dose in a row—because I am constantly searching for and discovering little kernels of an idea, something that sparks a thought that feeds a conversation. And what’s really lovely is that Dr Marry is starting to think that way, too.
So this week, I was both surprised and not surprised at all to find a series of kernels all aligned along one common theme: being brave and letting go:
- In spin class, during the mindfulness song, the chorus said, “I dare you to…” The instructor asked us to think about what we dared to let go of, what wasn’t serving us anymore?
- I started working with coach Laura Gassner Otting this week. My assignment for the next session is to make a list of the things holding me back, real or perceived.
- I’m working through a new 21-day meditation course with Oprah and Deepak Chopra around Getting Unstuck: Creating a Limitless Life. The only way to get unstuck is to let things go.
- I’m reading Dr Edith Eger’s The Gift. She says “I’m a prisoner and a victim when I minimize or deny my pain—and I’m a prisoner and a victim when I hold on to regret. Regret is a wish to change the past. It’s what we experience when we can’t acknowledge that we’re powerless, that something already happened, that we can’t change a single thing” (92).
- I listened to Brene Brown’s podcast with Dr Eger.
These all got me thinking (and writing) about these two questions, “What is holding me back? What if I just let ___________________ go?”
First and foremost, actually this is it in its entirety: I am holding me back. So here’s my list.
I dare myself to let go of:
- *“You are a real big girl.”
- “Who do you think you are to ________?”
- never having become a movie star
- no longer caring that I didn’t become a movie star
- never having really fit anywhere—who cares?
- trying to contain my rage at injustice, at conservative, small minded thinkers, at inequity
- being my own worst enemy
- applying for a Bush Fellowship anymore and to let go of the devastating loss of being a finalist twice
I dare myself to:
- get truly comfortable with my metaphorical and physical size
- just be quiet
- get even louder
- slow down
- work on patience
- spend more time in gratitude for my physical presence, my long, lean, healthy body, my intellect, my wit
- stop saying, “sort of,” and “kind of” because that’s so damn midwestern and insipid, and I HATE insipid
- forgive myself for sabotaging my own success over and over again
- come in to my true strength and power
- dream much, much bigger than I have ever allowed myself to dream
- manifest my true greatness because it’s absolutely there
- make piles of money because think what I can do with it to lift up others and make a difference in the world???
*I had two big realizations this week on Daily Dose.
- My mother was only 19 years old when she had me. That means that her frontal cortex wasn’t fully developed until I was 6 years old. She was a child when she had a child. My dad was only 23; he was a child, too. To be fair, I was barely 23 when Quinn was born. We were all too young to be having children. Did we make mistakes? Yup. Can Quinn catalog where I messed up? Yup. Can I talk through where my parents messed up? Yup. Did we likely do the best we could? Yup.
- My mother, my biggest cheerleader and my harshest critic, praised me till the cows came home AND told me I was a real big girl. Over and over and over and over again. In her mind, big meant…tall? Not stick thin like she had always been? I’ll be honest, no answer she can give me will ever make any sense because how can “you’re a real big girl” be anything but negative? But, and this is the important sentence here: she has listened to me when I say that that phrase devastated me, and continues to do so today. She has explained that she never meant it the way I internalized it, and she has apologized.
Sitting on the bike, in the semi-dark of spin class, I realized something I’ve intellectually always known but never emotionally understood: My mother has done her part. Now it’s up to me. I have to let it go. I have to let it all go. Actually, I have the privilege of getting to let it all go.
And I had that awful, slow dawning of understanding that I have been holding on to this for the entirety of my life because it has “served” me to cast myself as a victim. When I use an oft-repeated phrase that I heard growing up as the reason why I can’t do this or that; when I allow it to hamper the deep intimacy I have ever had with any man, including my husband; when I give it more credibility than my intellect, my accomplishments, my spirit, heart and dreams, then whatever failures I have had or might have if I take too big a leap can be passed off as the fault of someone else.
And I don’t have to take any responsibility for any of it…because I have been wrecked by something someone else said, often in passing and with no apparent understanding that it was crumbling the way I saw myself and understood others to see me.
Sitting on that bike, sweat running down my chest and back, I said, “Enough.”
And it fell away from me like an old skin I was shedding. All the doubt, the insecurity, the fear that I might actually just be a “real big girl” and nothing else lay at my feet, underneath the moving pedals, limp and lifeless. I observed it from my seat with no emotion and no recognition that that was any part of me. Because it no longer was or is.
I am meant to have a great big life. And the absolute only thing holding me back is my interpretation of the “truth” of a phrase said to me more than once.
What about the glorious, positive reinforcement I often received from my mother and others? Phrases I heard over and over again but gave no credibility to. What about the successes I have had? Successes that prove that, regardless my physical size, I am accomplished in many areas.
As in so many areas of life, I took those for granted and gave them no substance. Somehow, the one or two negative phrases I often heard tipped the scale of my worth until it was so heavy on one side that the other side may as well have been empty.
But on the bike, in that meditation, while reading the book and in filling out my assignment, I took everything off the scale to bring it back to neutral. Now, I am adding the qualities, comments and experiences back to both sides that will serve to keep the balance.
A few kernels I could have easily skipped over showed up this week and dared me to let go of the power I willingly gave to one simple phrase that has allowed me to be a victim my entire life. And I have never felt so free or so massive in ideas, worth and momentum.
Who or what do you need to let go of to be the size and scope you were always meant to be? I double dog dare you to stop living with regret and come into your own power. I’m doing it, and I know you can, too.
Wow, you have spoken to me and my life again. I listened to this piece today, Easter Sunday 2021.
I need desperately to ‘let parts of me go.
Thank you for the inspirational message and the encouragement to follow in your footsteps and change my walk into the future. You assured me that it is NEVER too late to make necessary changes for the better.
Thanks a million!!🤗
Dayna Del Val
Thank you so much Carol. I really appreciate that you read and comment on so many posts. I’m happy that this one resonates for you. Take the first step–that’s definitely the hardest one!