Letting go of control and creating space for things beyond what we currently imagine possible is a hard thing to do. Why? Because it means leaving behind what we know and what is safe, even if it makes us miserable. And it means leaving behind what is familiar for something you can’t even clearly see yet. It comes up over and over again for my clients: Do I choose to go on as I am now, for logical reasons like money or time? Or take a risk by leaving my job, my relationship, living with my family or [fill in the blank]? Let me just include that I also see this when people are confronted with having to give up a way of being. It is not just about giving up concrete things like a relationship or job, it can be about giving up the way you act in a relationship or the way you handle anger. When people are asking this kind of question, to do what is logical/familiar/safe or to take a risk, it is usually because there is a level of discontent (at best), but underneath that, I suspect there is a deeper part of them that knows they need to take a leap. **I should put it out there that someone who is often avoidant and has a pattern of running away might an exception to this.
I also hear about and witness people having powerful experiences as a result of taking the leap. I know of many stories where people have left a job without any prospects because they were so unhappy. They chose their happiness over security and, just in time, when they were going to run out of money, another, better opportunity was presented. It is not just their happiness that they chose, it was the inner wisdom that was coming through being miserable that they chose to honor. That internal feedback is so important. Sometimes that feedback comes in the form of unpleasant emotion because pain or discomfort is a powerful motivator. This week, I want to share a section of David Richo’s book where he illustrates this very concept:
“A dramatic example of this occurs in the Odyssey when Ulysses, after leaving the island of Calypso, is shipwrecked. He has lost his crew and his fleet and is alone in the sea holding onto a single plank. Hope seems lost when suddenly Leucothea, a sea goddess, appears and tells him that the only way to survive is to let go. His logical mind tells him that the tried-and-true method of maintaining flotation is holding onto the plank. Yet his intuition, represented by the goddess, tells him to let go and thus invent a new and bold response to a here and now crisis. He chooses (as he does throughout the Odyssey) to listen to the female part of himself and to trust audacious intuition. He lets go of the plank and more: his garments. He treads water without physical supports. Then the goddess gives him a magical push that propels him effortlessly to his next destination. Notice two features of the story are significant: Ulysses had just left the arms of Calypso, rejecting her offer of divinity and preferring to return to his wife, Penelope. He chose not to be allured by the temptation of a quick and easy advance in consciousness but rather to continue his journey home gradually. This was the first choice he made that prepared him for the miraculous rescue to follow. His second preparation for empowerment was his hopelessness. No intuitions came to him while he was safe at sea. Marvels occur when there is room for them” (p. 200).
I especially love the last part: ‘no intuitions came to him while he was safe at sea’. In the moment where we are uncomfortable because we are dissatisfied with what is happening, we forget that the pain (feeling hopeless, unsatisfied, miserable) is simply information. We don’t need to take it super personal. Feel it, it is real. But no need to make it dramatic. Sometimes I see my clients in the midst of this kind of process where their hopelessness is building and I want to ease their discomfort, but, in fact, the discomfort is an important part of the process and if I took it away, it wouldn’t be able to do the work it is there to do. My hope is that in sharing this story, that it might catch you at that very moment where you are getting information about needing to take a leap or needing to let go so there is room for the miraculous so that this can be a gentle reminder to let the process unfold. Let go, it is OK. The new way, the next steps will appear. And, they will probably be even more awesome than what you were designing in your mind or what you were living before.
*This post is written in response to a section in David Richo's book "When Love Meets Fear: Becoming Defense-Less and Resource-Full".