Letting go can be the most difficult task we are faced with in the path of self-development advanced human development. Letting go of old habits, conceptions and practices that have become ingrained in us. Letting go of our very notion of who ‘we’ are. The process of growth involves a continual letting go throughout life, of people, places, situations and selves. We become attached to things that we feel are fixed, unchanging. Yet it is an absolute certainty that nothing is ever certain that everything is in flux.
Letting go can be the most difficult task we are faced with in the path of self-development. Letting go of old habits, conceptions and practices that have become ingrained in us. Letting go of our very notion of who ‘we’ even are. The process of growth involves a continual letting go throughout life, of people, places, situations and selves. We become attached to things that we feel are fixed, unchanging. Yet it is an absolute certainty that nothing is ever certain, that everything is in flux.
One area where attachment can be particularly hard to shake is our career. We spend so much time at work that it forms a huge psychological component to our sense of self. This comes in a variety of forms, not necessarily related to what it is we actually do for work. We might see ourselves as the provider for our family, working to the point of exhaustion because we feel it is central to our sense of identity. We might feel we have a duty to our colleagues as a friend and supporter, showing up for them while forgetting to show up for ourselves. This attachment to a self-conception becomes bound up with our daily pattern, becoming more entrenched the longer we remain in the same position.
Of course, we can also become attached to our specific role. Maybe our family has wanted us to take on a certain job since we were young, crafting an identity for us as a doctor or a lawyer that we have spent years training to step into. We might have had a passion for animation, or design, and worked tirelessly towards our goals before becoming disillusioned and realising that our work has eclipsed our life as an individual human. So many things are contained within our work: societal prestige, familial and self-respect, economic security and our hopes for the future.
‘Letting go’ does not mean laying down all of these things. It does not mean we stop wanting to work hard to provide for our family. It does not mean we jump into a drastic career change or give up on training to achieve our dream job. Instead, it means letting go of the role these things play in our psychological life. We may be and do all of these things, but we are separate from them. If we were forced for whatever reason to stop, our sense of self would not crumble.
Life is not about doing, acquiring, or inhabiting a role. At its core, life is about living. All these accumulations, of personality traits, relationships, expectations and judgements, may serve to obscure that central fact but they do not negate it. Paradoxically, by loosening our grip on the roles we perform, it may be that we come to perform them more effectively, free from the anxiety that constrains our potential.