I own a Jeep Liberty, nick named “Libby”. It was purchased 10 years ago. It has been driven over 210,000 kilometres. As I look at its worn exterior, it reminds me of the places it has been. Libby has transported the kids and mom and dad to and from high school, university, skiing, snowboarding, and the cottage, and to trips to the U.S. and within Canada. It has been a loyal, trustworthy friend. Through the rain, snow, sleet and scorching sun and humidity, it never complained but just ensured its passengers were safe, comfortable and reached their final destination.

Recently my daughter Joanna moved to Ottawa to attend university as she pursues a Master’s degree in psychology and counselling. My wife Linda has a smaller SUV, called a VW Tiguan 4-Motion. Unfortunately, all of Joanna’s possessions would not fit in the back of the tiny Tiguan, so I looked to old faithful.  We packed Libby tightly. As we prepared to leave Oakville, I placed my hand on the engine and quietly said, "I just need one more trip Libby, and then we are done". My son Richard and I and Libby with all of her rattles, shakes, vibrations and scars, rolled on to the 401 and with determination she made her way to Ottawa and back with a rest in Cobourg. No problems. As I backed Libby into the garage after providing a detailed cleaning, I realized it was going to be very difficult to let Libby go. So she still sits there, quietly waiting for me to decide her future fate. For some reason, I’m just having trouble saying good bye, somewhat afraid that her replacement may not live up to my expectations.

Letting go! Isn’t that a common issue for all of us? 


Lawrence Wilson, MD, provides a few interesting comments on this topic:

Learning to let go of old habits, ideas, people who are not serving your best interests, and much more is not an easy task for anyone.  The main reason is one must leave one’s comfort zone or familiar situations, habits and thinking patterns.  This is stressful, often in the extreme.  Therefore, most people simply do not do it.  They make excuse after excuse as to why they should not change, rather than embrace change.  This is the main block in most people’s way when it comes to letting go of anything in one’s life.

Letting go can be as simple as recycling or giving away old clothing.  It can be as radical as changing one’s entire lifestyle.  Whichever it is, it is always going to be somewhat painful.  I mention this because the feeling of loss that accompanies any type of letting go is perfectly normal, and should not be confused.  If one expects no pain, then when the pain of separation and letting go and abandonment hit, many people turn away rather than move forward boldly.  This is the main reason that most people do not make the most of their lives.

Letting go is also frightening for other reasons.  One is that the future is always unknown.  The past, miserable as it might have been, is known and thus one can more easily navigate through it, knowing at least what to expect, even if it is not great.  The future, however, is completely unknown and this is very unnerving for most people.  This is the second important stumbling block that prevents most people from moving forward in their lives.

The third block is that the future is unpredictable.  This is related to the second block, but is somewhat different.  It means that no matter how well you plan ahead, the future is inherently difficult to prepare for, unlike past attitudes, relationships and habits with which one is more familiar.  This, also, stops some people from moving on because they don’t even know what they need to prepare for their futures.

The fourth block is that few people realize that when one truly lets go and forges ahead, one will have few if any reference points to evaluate their next move.  This may seem trite, but is extremely important.  Because of this fact, a wonderful counselor I once spoke with told me that if an opportunity that arose for me seemed comfortable, then it probably was not truly my future.  Whereas, if an opportunity arose that seemed quite nebulous, with few reference points, it was actually more likely to be related to my true future.

This may seem counterintuitive, but the counselor explained that it is an important reason why most people have difficulty really letting go of their past and embracing their future. 

Another block to movement or moving on in your life is thinking you will lose some essential part of your identity, personality, friendships, family relations or other parts of yourself that you value.  Know that if you truly embrace your future, this will not occur.  In fact, when you move ahead and let go of your past, more, not less of your personality and gifts will manifest.

Change is inevitable. Realizing our future potential, as individuals, teams, and corporations is dependent on how well we embrace change, and the future by letting go of the past. Easily said, but not easily practiced. But if we can, how much better life will be.