Learning How to Let Go

The biggest red flag that my mental health is declining is when I find myself stressed, resentful, or worrying about having enough and being enough. I’ve come a long way with this over the years. These fears used to overshadow my life daily. Today they are rare, episodic, and fleeting. They only occur when I make plans based in the false belief that I am in control of anything other than myself.

My fears are intimately connected to what I expect of myself. For most of my life, what I’ve demanded of me was far too high and what I sought from others was ridiculously low. Misfits like me bastardize the expression, “If you want something done right, do it yourself” and turn it into, “If you want to ensure that you’re never let down, keep your expectations at rock bottom and do everything for everyone so that they are never disappointed.” Not exactly manageable…

Maintaining healthy expectations hinges on acceptance of one’s limitations. While I seek to respect them (an often overlooked aspect of self respect), I also want to push them (chronically, and a bit too hard at times). I’m blessed to receive reality checks from those who love me (most notably my amazing wife who grounds me with a glance that so clearly communicates, “WTF are you even thinking?”).

What I’m usually thinking is some variation of, “Let’s change the world by Tuesday!”

It’s not like I don’t know better. I’ve learned over and over again that my Higher Power’s plans are far greater than mine and still I make them. My faith that things will unfold if only I would let them ebbs and flows.

Which is just infuriating.

It’s not like I lack countless experiences that prove my faith is warranted. It’s not as if I haven’t witnessed more than a few miracles. On my good days, the cornerstone of my beliefs is knowing that things will work out well. I may not know when or how, but I know that they will. Moreover, I know that sooner or later, it’ll be better than it’s ever been. So why do I stress and scheme and worry?

Because sometimes I think things are moving too slow, not coming together well enough, or otherwise failing to be what I want them to be. I see so many opportunities and so many possibilities. Sometimes I even manage to believe that they can’t come to fruition without my having a hand in them.

I try to imagine the patience my HP has with me and I can only conceptualize it as both the perfect mother and perfect father multiplied by infinity. I like to believe that I can hear God laugh when I tell Her/Him/It how things need to be. Most days I can receive the message, “Just relax. I’ve got this.”

The more I let go, the more I receive. Yet as my all time favorite Facebook meme admits, “Everything I let go of has claw marks on it.” I remain a work in progress. Today is another opportunity for me to let go of my plans and accept the people, places, and things my HP places in my path.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.