January 14, 2018

You’re Sinking because you’re Trying Too Hard: Thoughts on Letting it Go & Letting it Be.

“The Master allows things to happen. She shapes events as they come.
She steps out of the way and lets the Tao speak for itself.” ~ The Daodejing


When I was a kid, I could float on my back but I couldn’t swim.

Floating on water was relaxing and easy for me—unlike swimming.

I remember a lifeguard telling me that I was sinking because I was trying too hard. He said that the harder I kick or paddle, the faster I sink, but I float when I relax and let my body be.

This memory comes to my mind whenever I think of letting go. When I force things to happen, I strip them of love and authenticity. However, when I let things be, I align myself with the universe’s desires, which suit me better than my own egocentric impulses.

The moment I let it be, I know in my heart that I’m letting go and surrendering to life.

We can easily get caught up in words and ponder whether we should let things go or let them be. But it’s similar to my past swimming experience—life takes effort but, at the same time, it doesn’t. When we let things be—meaning when we stop kicking and paddling—we float.

Though letting go takes work in the present moment, the fact is, it will naturally happen on its own, sooner or later.

How can we let things be? Here are a few things to keep in mind that will help us float:

Understand what “let it be” means. 

It’s imperative to comprehend the crux of letting things be so we don’t practice it for all the wrong reasons. When we let things be, it doesn’t mean that we’re cutting anything loose or that these objects, ideas, or people even need to change. What does change is our relationship to them. They no longer tie us down. We let things take shape the way they should, without interference on our part.

Know what needs to be dropped.

Oftentimes, we take the notion of letting things be to the extreme. To let things be doesn’t mean we become idle, stop pursuing what makes us happy, or stop taking action when it is most needed. It doesn’t mean we sit back and watch life do everything for us—like washing the dishes, sending out our CV, or apologizing to those we have wronged. Life won’t do this for us. Letting things be means we keep on living without expecting certain results or forcing particular outcomes. It means that when something is clearly not serving us any longer or bringing us any sort of benefit, we muster the courage to move on to the next chapter.

Figure out why we refuse to let things be.

We commonly get too comfortable in the known—also called being stuck in our “comfort zone.” We refuse to accept what’s new or different because it threatens the current relationship we have with an idea, a thing, or a person. So we fixate harder on what we know so we don’t lose it. This fear of loss and uncertainty keeps us holding on to the most unfathomable things in our life. To let things be, we must accept that we can’t control, force, or pretend—to do so goes against the natural law of life, which compels us to trust in it.

Stop paddling.

Trying to accept things as they are can feel like a burden. If we don’t get what we want the first time, or the second or the third, it usually means we’re doing something wrong in how we pursue the objects of our desire. We must change our methods and try something else for a change. Have you ever succeeded in attaining something through force? Even if you did, did it last long? Did it make you happy in the long run? When we try to attain things by letting them be, not forcing them, we give ourselves the chance to step back, pause, and observe life at work.

Change your perception.

If we wish to let things be, we must be content with what we have right now, regardless of how unfavorable it may seem. Practice gratitude every day. Put aside what you can’t attain and focus on what’s here. Be grateful for breathing, being alive, and the fact that you have been given another day—another chance—to enjoy this blessing called life. Remember what Wayne Dyer said: “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Happy floating!



Author: Elyane Youssef
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman

Read 17 Comments and Reply

Read 17 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Elyane Youssef  |  Contribution: 882,940