Letting Go, Moving on

February 29th, 2012

Whether you are scarred by love, jaded by religion or beaten by circumstance, there comes a time to say “Enough!” and move on. You aren’t serving yourself or changing anyone else by holding on to anger. Rights and wrongs are beside the point now. It’s time to let go, let the past be what it was and move on. You can’t change what happened, but you CAN change what you are making it mean. You can change the story you tell yourself.

One of my favorite children’s stories is Grandpa’s Slippers. Grandma thinks it’s time to throw out Grandpa’s tattered old slippers, but every time she throws then out, he finds them because he loves his old slippers. Grandma is right of course. The time has come for a new pair of slippers. But on the other hand, Grandpa has to make his own choices about when to move on.

It’s a bit the same with this article. Forgive me ferreting through the closet of your personal story. If, for whatever reason, you’re not inclined to move on then by all means stop reading. But, on the other hand, if you are ready to claim your most powerful and exciting future then please DO read on. Consider me the meddling grandma.

Your old story is like Grandpa’s slippers. It doesn’t fit you anymore, doesn’t fit the person you want to become. Like the old slippers, your story is coming apart at the seams because it’s not YOU. Its several sizes too small for the life you deserve and know you want. The slippers represent a version of your life that has become comfortable, maybe even comfortably numb. But it’s not the truth.

Beware of ancient drama slopping around in truth’s slippers. They may be keeping the soles of your feet warm with the familiar glow of self righteousness, but they aren’t feeding the soul of who you are. Your old story is at best a half truth and you may even have the wrong half, the half that is holding you back. It’s time to exchange the half truth of “poor me” for a new truth called “my potential.”

As the Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron says, “The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new.”

Who would you be without your old slippers? As long as you choose to walk with the gait of a victim, everything that happens to you will feed this story. You will search in closets, under beds and in the trash for any excuse to reignite the drama. Your walls go up, your heart closes and you recreate the sagas of your past hurts like painted bodies in a crime scene. Life will continue to happen TO you as long as you tell this tired old story.

Close the book on the victim story and remember that you are a fearless pioneer on a daring adventure to find love and beauty in and around you. Everything is an opportunity, well before you ascribe it with any meaning. Allow life to happen THROUGH you, and WITH you, rather than to you. It’s time to claim your power, and leave yesterday’s disappointment in a vault marked “things I’ve grown through but they don’t define me ANY more.”

If you’re not ready to read this, then forgive me. Take it in the spirit it is intended. I offer this with compassion and in the interests of every person realizing your full potential as a human being.

We don’t do a service to anyone when we allow each other to wallow in self pity. Nor do we do each other a service when we perpetuate wounded truths. Wounded truths are the half truths that speak of past disappointment but don’t catch the other half of the truth that you have power to make choices about how you respond. Wounded truths are often spoken with tilted head and muffled tone. We ask for peoples least rather than inviting their greatest.

Take a little power walk in your new slippers and see how they feel. Use language that speaks of power and potential rather than paralysis and pity. If we were inviting fullness from each other, we would talk about survivors of crime rather than victims of crime. We would emphasize recovery rather than addiction. We would describe people as managing chronic illness rather than “having” diseases. The disease doesn’t define the person, nor does the crime.

This is not about denial. We do well to avoid the other extreme of blame as well. Allow people to feel their pain and not deny the past. But at some time, and somewhere in between victim mentality and blame lies a healthy form of present focused personal responsibility.

The happy ending in Grandpa’s Slippers is that Grandpa eventually lets go of his old slippers, buys a new pair and voila, it turns out that he loves the new slippers even more.

I shouldn’t make any promises, but I can’t help feeling that the same is true for all of us. The new story may take some getting used to, but once you do let go and move on, your life will flourish in leaps and bounds; from responsibility to power, and from choice to freedom. You might even thank Grandma for breaking the victim’s cycle and prompting you to make new choices.

Oh, and this process of claiming your power has no end point. It’s a lifelong journey of growth. No sooner has Grandpa slipped his feet into his new, comfy loafers, than Grandma turns her attention to his tatty old cardigan. Claim power in one area of your life, create a habit of forward focused momentum, and then turn your attention to the next. And don’t forget to enjoy the journey. Its fun making life-affirming choices, and exciting.

As Paulo Coelho wrote in The Alchemist,

As he mused about these things, he realized that he had to choose between thinking of himself as the poor victim of a thief and as an adventurer in quest of his treasure.

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  1. Nandoism says:

    Absolutely transformational story! I would love to talk to you–a little more in detail,
    about a program I’m doing in April on my own blog called “25 Days to a Better You” and
    I’d love to have you speak on this a little more because it’s in alignment with my program!
    I would love for my readers to meet you! I hope we can discuss. 

    Nando 

  2. naomi says:

    The journey is the most important part to me. Now knowing where I am going but feeling like it is to a good place. Lovely blog as ever. Thought provoking. Thank you

  3. Nipho says:

    Thank you for this blog, amazing stuff. I hope I change my mind and let go of things that hold me back. I wasn’t gonna read this but I did, there’s a purpose for this. Thank you again.

  4. sarah waldin says:

    I love this article. I cannot get enough of this reminder. It seems to me that living the human life in a wholehearted way is the lesson of letting go. 
    I write about this a bit myself. I love reading about what others have to say on the topic. Essential wisdom that we all share … but forget (?) often. These reminders help us get back on track.  

  5. Lubna says:

    Thank you – I love that your articles always have a simple mantra embedded in them – the one(s) I found this time is I celebrate my “Power and Potential” – and in a weaker moment I will z-stamp on the head of “Paralysis and Pity”.
    So true as well about the new slippers being much nicer – if we’re willing to see it, there is more joy, more beauty more love – bigger, bolder, better right ahead of us. V best Lubna 

  6. libby says:

    Love the old slippers analogy! Who of us hasn’t had a pair of those under the bed..?! Beautifully written wisdom, as always….

  7. Jessica says:

    The following quote is one I don’t want to forget:
    “Wounded truths are the half truths that speak of past disappointment but don’t catch the other half of the truth that you have power to make choices about how you respond.”
    Well said! It applies to so many of our lives’ situations.

  8. Julie says:

    This is beautiful. Thank you for this article. I think we all need to reminded of this from time to time, even those of us who haven’t been a serious victim of something terrible, but of circumstance and self pity :)
    xo  Julie 

  9. Great article! I am going to share this on Facebook and personally with friends and family. I know this is such an issue with so many people — myself included. Thank you for writing this and making such great points!
    Diana  www.thoughtsbydiana.com 

  10. Karyn says:

    Followed the link from Diana’s FB page.  Loved the article. Thanks, will be sharing with my tribe.

  11. Letting go and moving on is really difficult especially if the person feels that they were victims of a circumstances they cant accept.  They feel that they were betrayed, their life destroyed by lies.  Instead of standing up from the fall, they continue to lie down and never make an effort to stand up again.  then they live a miserable life. They blame others for their misfortunes, heartaches, bitterness.

    Yet, in reality, by not letting go and moving on and continuing to feel VICTIMIZED, they are  the ones DESTROYING their own life.

    This is a very nice post, very inspirational. 

  12. Heulwen Renshaw says:

    I’ve been avoiding reading this before, possibly due to weakness, knowing that I didn’t really want to move on. I think now that ‘I’m all out of love’ as the song goes, and a one-sided love affair will never amount to anything, no matter how hard your heart is telling you not to give up.  But wisdom is winning over. Although it was the best thing that ever happened at that certain time in my life, and I’m not bitter about it.
    Thank you for this article, I needed that jolt down to reality.

      

  13. Baby knowledge says:

    This mindset and attitude of positive thinking, of looking forwards and progressing is something that I feel a lot of modern day parents would benefit from. I realise that this article is focusing more on overcoming a trauma but in terms of everday life, particularly as a new parent, people will quickly judge you for your choices, for your baby’s/child’s behaviour and will put you in a ‘box’. (she is too too strict, she is lazy, she doesn’t know what she is doing, that dad isn’t very hands on etc). So rather than being categorised, rather than wearing those comfortable slippers and doing what everyone else expects of you or bringing up your child in a way that pleases others. I say do what you think is best for your individual child. You will know your child’s strengths, weaknesses and more importantly how to motivate and encourage him. Trust yourself. Don’t sweat the small stuff as they say and keep moving forwards,  trust yourself and do what you feel is best for your individual child. If you think abouthumour child first, your parenting decisions will always be right. 

  14. Should say think about your child first ….

  15. Goodpal says:

    Letting go involves leaving the comfort zone of familiarity which is the real issue. But this is what we have to do in order to grow and not stagnate. Dose of motivation packed in this article will surely help readers take a step forward.

    Thanks for the wonderful piece. 

  16. Ian this article was a great reminder that any one of us can rise above our circumstances in life and choose to be other than a victim. I think that refusal to be a victim was absolutely a driving force for me to move forwards through devastating tragedy in my life. Thank you

  17. Alilifediva says:

    Love this article !!  perfect time to read it …lots of change happening in my life….letting GO is what I need to do!

  18. Nina Fox says:

    Paulo Coelho  was a visionary and just loved “The Alchemist” 
    Beautifully articulated article and excellent cognitive reframing, Ian.  You do have a gift with language and words.  Powerfully written.
    “somewhere in between victim mentality and blame lies a healthy form of present focused personal responsibility”
     I would suggest that  taking healthy responsibility for the present is on the flip side of the coin from blame and victim.  Not somewhere in between.
    Thank You for all your work, insight and experience of you.

  19. Josh says:

    This answered all my questions, doubts and fears. I was really afraid of losing that person I love even though it hurts whenever that person is around, this may be the painful relationship I’ve been to, but thanks to this blog, I will surely learn and start letting go of that person. I can’t say that had a painful relationship, I know that person is just hiding the pain whenever we’re together, but I know, atleast now I am enlightened by the words written and said in this Inspiring story/Blog.Thank You and keep on sharing Inspiring thoughts like this one.

  20. Elaine Harrison Wilson says:

    Wonderful piece!!  Poignant.  Thanks. 
     

  21. Rowena says:

    Thank you for this, the timing is perfect. well written

  22. Anonymous says:

    Excellent presentation of this topic and so appropriate for me at the moment working with PTSD clients.   It applies to a variety of situations too, so I will keep it on file as a reference piece.  Thank you.  I enjoy the way you write, it is colourful whilst factual.   Great article. Thanks

  23. Christy B says:

    The part about closing the book on the victim story is so true. I would much rather be known as a survivor! Thank-you for such a great article.

  24. Nando, is it more than coincidence that your number of days to a better you is close to the reported 21 days it takes to form good habits? Good luck on your blog!
    Naomi, there is an idea from Neil Gaiman that says, if our goal is a mountain, just make sure your decisions are taking you closer to the mountain, and not away from it. The journey to there is just as important as the direction we’re headed.
    Nipho, there is so much good stuff out there, and Ian writing is the most deconstructive and helpful I’ve seen on the internet.
    Ian, I was just writing about letting go on my blog. It’s truly a fundamental step towards getting and staying happy, no? Letting go begins with accepting that whatever it is that we’re so worried about (most of us), that thing isn’t as important as we think. Realize… we are going to die, and all this bad stuff, and the good, too, will pass. Enjoy it. Now.
    Great article,
    Cheers

  25. Love the article – It is so true. We cannot move forward in life – when we arel still living in the past.  Fear is our greatest barrier in life – but at the same time it is our greatest motivator for wanting a better life filled with an abundance of blessings, love and joy. 
    Darlene

  26. Annie B says:

    What perfect timing for this post! I loved the content, we have to decide to break the cycle and do something new, and become the new and better version that was buried by our “usual”.
    Thanks for sharing…
     

  27. Cija Black says:

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today.  Funny how that works.  Thank you. :)

  28. isabel says:

    Perfect timing:-)

  29. Dimitie says:

    Thank you for this! It’s definitely what I needed to hear at this time.

  30. saskllkay says:

    Well written and inspirational! A big thank you for making me think!!!

  31. david says:

    Love your insightful stories. Very encouraging. Been too comfortable with my shameful slippers

  32. weisseis says:

    Ich kann nicht alles lesen, Du erzählst ein reale Geschichte. Das Vergangene ist die Zukunft.

  33. Dia Draper says:

    Stumbled upon you and this post through Twitter and really enjoyed reading this!  It’s definitely something I work on and the slippers is such a great metaphor.  The part I often get tripped up on is the reckoning of circumstances.  I believe it’s true that when we stand in our victim story we look high and low for experiences to confirm that story.  So, if we have done this in our lives (as I have!), we have a lot of “evidence” of the way things are.  This is the trappy part for me.  Because in order to break the cycle and let go, as you suggest, we have to learn to expect something different… and yet we look around and see the same.  I play with putting on new glasses through which to see it all, and also with the knowledge that there is always the opportunity for something to be different.  I also meditate on what I really know to be true about myself.  I love the idea of a power walk in the new slippers… and will definitely play with that!  The victim story almost feels like a habit that is so easy to slip right back into.  I’ll keep directing my attention to it, and will let go again, every time I feel it slip back into those cozy old (and frankly, disgusting) slippers!  Thank you for the post!

  34. ian says:

    thx for your comment- love the connection about tripping in old slippers. They may feel comfy, but its a trap.

  35. Pauline says:

    Great thoughts! Exactly what i needed to hear at this moment. I love the reference to The Alchemist; I write about the story’s transforming power on my blog. It made your advice that much more relevant. Thank you!

  36. DLJ says:

    Love this post, especially the Buddhist quote. That is very timely for me, at this time in my life. I feel I am clinging to an recent old me that existed just a few years ago. Today, I am struggling, to a certain extent to find that new shoe that will fit my “life shoe” based on who I am in this moment. I know deep inside, but the challenge is having the courage to grab hold of this new shoe in this moment. This website has been helpful http://www.LettingGoCafe.com. Thanks again for your post. It was timely.
     

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  38. Lynda says:

    So very well said! 

  39. Marissa says:

    Inspiring story. Such an important message, and a powerful reminder that we can treats form our realities.

  40. Gamma says:

    Alles Bemühen führt zu Gott, wenn Gott will, das ich zurückkehre zum Geschehenen dann will ich ihm folgen. Friede und Gottes Segen.

  41. andee says:

    great job!..love your ideas of how to let go and live lifes full journey of acceptance and reality…keep up the good work!!..

  42. Helen says:

    I needed this this morning as I have spent the weekend in a little heap of self pity.  So now I feel better  and almost smile as I think ‘what now? as it has been a while since my new slippers, and new cardy in fact my wardrobe is being replaced. So now I will have to wait and see … what Grandma has in for me now! Thanks very much _/\_

  43. Linda says:

    I could prob mirror what Helen said January 7, 12:42am . I went through a Major melt-down 2 nites ago . There was no lite through the dark. I HAD to call my  1 and ONLY support person on the face of this planet.  I know about all of these things that you say , I try to apply them to my life . I still have Demon forces pulling @ my mind almost constantly .I cannot control it. The crux of things for me is isolation & estrangment ,from my son inturn my only 2 grandchildren. I am the type of person that wears her heart on her sleeve , therefore easily hurt.  I have continually tried to apply things to my life that you speak of, but my severe depression is hampering my efforts. I take meds, see Doc , not as reg.as needed .  Believe me I am not hanging on to any “comfort” of the old slippers because its driving me “mad”. I can’t seem to control what my mind thinks . 
                                                                                      Thanks for reading, I enjoyed your post !    

  44. Gamma says:

    Liebe Linda, ich kenne das. Über 60 Jahre Depression. Unsägliche Schmerzen, ja das ist schwer zu ertragen. Gott segne Dich.

    Dear Linda, I know that over 60 years of depression. Unspeakable pain, yes it is hard to bear. God bless you. 

  45. ND says:

    Thanks for the article, it really touched the inner core of my heart and start a new way in the long voyage of life. Now I am going to shut down my computer and start a new me. Life is beautiful, but world is illusion.

  46. baby knowledge says:

    Hi, I left a comment on this beautiful post last year with as link back to my website. Could I please ask you to delete the link. I am glad to have left a comment and hope I added value to your article.  This in no way reflects on the quality of your site or my personal view of the quality of this site, we are simply deleting all links from before certain date to help us to be more in line with Google requirements. I hope you are able to help.  Many thanks Angela