Perfecting the Ability to Let Go

Posted on December 1st, 2011
Posted in Articles

“None but a fool worries about what he cannot influence.” – Samuel Johnson, 18th century critic and author, often referred to as the most-quoted author after William Shakespeare (1709-1784)

Don’t we all have something we’d like to forget? Is there not some event or behavior that occurred in our past that we’ve not only carried in dread and shame for far too long, especially those for which we were partly or wholly responsible as a result of our addiction? The answer to this question is almost undoubtedly yes. We each carry a burden from the past. Unfortunately, many of us shoulder that burden for far longer than we should. In fact, some of us have an exceedingly difficult time being able to let go of the past.

If we want to truly heal, however, we have to learn how to let go. This isn’t an art. It takes work. And by perfecting the ability to let go, we’re doing one of the best things possible for our continued recovery.

But how do we perfect the ability to let go? What tricks or tips are there that we can utilize to do so? Is this something that just comes naturally to some people and not others? In other words, if it’s too difficult for us to even consider, does this mean that we are doomed to carry the burden of the past around with us forever?

Fear not. We can all learn how to let go. We just need to take it slowly, not get too concerned that we’re not making progress fast enough, and to keep on working at it.

Easier said than done, right? Okay, acknowledge that this may be tough sledding for some of us, at least in our initial attempts to let go. That’s perfectly understandable and most of us have been there many times before. After all, we’re each unique individuals with myriad experiences, good and bad, that have brought us to where we are today. If we were all the same, there’d probably be a single solution or path to follow. Such is not the case, so it is up to us to discover, by trial and error, if you will, what works the best for us.

Take the basic premise that we cannot influence the past. Once we recognize that fact and really let it sink in we will begin to understand that the past is just that – dead and gone. Why should we worry over what has already been done? There’s no point to it, really. Still, how many of us continue to agonize and beat ourselves up over mistakes and failure in the past.

Another area where many of us get into trouble is taking on the responsibility for worrying about problems and issues that are out of our control in the present. If we cannot save the world from hunger, maybe that issue is too big for us to tackle single-handedly. In recovery, we can, however, help out a fellow individual who may need assistance. That’s about as good a deal as we can manage for tackling the larger issues: Do what we can close to home, close to our own experience, something that we can truly handle.

There is also something to be said about not succumbing to gloom over what may seem like impossibilities to us at the present time. Maybe we’re newly sober and cannot fathom what it takes to be in recovery for the rest of our lives. We may become disheartened if we concentrate too much on many years hence and how difficult recovery will be for us, given our current situation. After all, we’re just fresh into recovery. It’s all too new, too unfamiliar, too uncomfortable, perhaps. Better to give ourselves time to acclimate ourselves to this new sobriety, this new way of life that we have chosen.

There are others who can help us, chiefly our sponsor and fellow 12-step group members. Each of them has been where we are today. They’ve made it through and can, if nothing else, offer us the kind of support and encouragement we won’t find anywhere else. They can be an inspiration, show us there is light at the end of the tunnel, lead by example.

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