The next step in our 5-step, emotional fitness routine is the act and art of "letting go."
In my living room, I have a framed photo that is one of my all-time favorites of my youngest son, Austin. He was about 13- or 14-years old and attending a scholastic summer retreat called Super Camp. They had taken each kid up a tall post, had them balance on the top and, when they were ready, leap away from the post to catch a trapeze-type handle dangling in mid-air. There was no way to reach it without your feet first leaving the relative safety of the post. The photographer caught my son in mid-air: feet off the post, hands reaching for the handle, fully suspended in faith... completely "letting go." He has the most determined and confident look on his face and was the only student that day to successfully complete the task on the first try. Every time I dust that picture, I realize I'm simultaneously smiling and holding my breath just a little -and am always reminded of the courage, freedom, and art of letting go in life.
Along those same lines, I also remember a coach once saying to me that I would have to let go of the current "rope" or "lifeline" I was mentally holding on to professionally and free fall for a second, in order to jump far enough to grab the new "lifeline" which was waiting for me just beyond where I could reach while holding on to the old one.
As humans, we tend to form strong attachments to the way we are currently doing, seeing, or interpreting things. We also hold onto resentments, perceived wrongs, and ancient hurts. We hold on to old material and outdated ideas. We hold onto routines that no longer serve us.
When we strengthen our ability to step outside ourselves and notice what we are strongly attached to and contemplate "letting go" of those things that no longer work for or serve us well, we free up the space and energy for the newer, lighter, and greater ones. It's like cleaning out a closet of old, outdated, ill-fitting clothes. Afterward, when we stand back and look at the closet and realize that everything in it we would actually wear tomorrow, actually looks good on us and we actually like... it's a great feeling! Lighter, more accurate and current, spacious, freeing.
As a dental or medical professional, think about letting go and forgiving old issues with teammates at the office, in your family, or with old friends. As a speaker, trainer, or consultant, consider letting go and getting rid of some of your old material, products, or even signature stories you've told for years. As human being and participant in a greater community, contemplate letting go of old definitions of political parties, organizations, and the way it's always been done. By doing this, we open up room for fresh ideas, expanded ways of thinking, healing, possibility, innovation, new growth, and a bigger view. We make room for a bigger game.