A Coaching Power Tool By Daria Kral, Life and Relationship Coach, GERMANY
Holding on is believing that there’s only a past; letting go is knowing that there’s a future. – Daphne Rose Kingma
To let go is something that is not natural for most of us. It takes courage to have a conscious awareness and acknowledge that we are holding on to something that is not serving us anymore. It is hard to let go and part of it is that we might feel we have failed or lost something. It is also possible that we have worked so hard that letting go feels like losing. There is also the aspect of convenience and the possibility that the thing we should let go of served a different purpose.
Working with clients and having this experience myself, it is often that we need to learn to follow a certain goal or direction in life which gives us satisfaction and purpose. It is commonly believed that “there is just one way to get there”, “I can’t make any mistakes”, or “if I don’t get there fast enough, I do something wrong”, are statements that prevent us from letting go.
There are many things that we are holding on to which keep us from moving forward and create the life we want and deserve. It is a process we need to go through to be able to let go. It’s a play between the known and unknown, which can be easily translated into success vs. sensation of failure, even though it is not necessarily true.
To be clear when I talk about “Holding on vs. Letting go” I don’t mean that letting go is always the same as giving up or quitting on something for no particular reason. I talk about the detachment from situations, people, and other things that might not serve us any longer, as previously mentioned.
Holding On vs. Letting Go Explanation
Definition of “Hold On” by merriam-webster.com
maintain a condition or position; to maintain a grasp on something; to await something (such as a telephone connection) desired or requested broadly; to maintain possession of or adherence to.
“Holding on to sth” might be convenient, safe, comfortable, and so on. Perhaps it is there to maintain a position in a company, an expectation of oneself or others, a relationship, the past, or a place. It can be as well as something like resentment or grudge. Whatever it is, we perceive it as something we “know” and what we know we often believe has a greater level of control, which gives us safety. Even though it makes us unhappy. Therefore there is this famous saying “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know”. The truth is, we are not always able to control a situation or an outcome of something as we would like to. We are afraid of what could happen if we let go and continue an unfamiliar path. We may not know or be blind to something else that is possible. It does not matter if there is another potential opportunity, possibility, or situation that appears to be better, more profitable, or bringing happiness. We frequently do not choose this path because it brings us in a position of not knowing, new, and different pathways. If a new path is not working out, we easily feel anger, disappointment, frustration, or even unworthiness. For a lot of people, it would be a great relief that a situation, position, relationship, or place stays the same with maybe minimal changes, but the reality is that “nothing lasts forever” in the very same way.
People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown they prefer familiar suffering.- Thich Nhat Hanh
Definition of “Let Go” by merriam-webster.com
to relax or release one’s hold; to abandon self-restraint; to dismiss from employment; to set free (from a state of being held in check).
What makes it so important to understand the concept of “letting go”?
It gives us freedom, it opens doors and shows possibilities we didn’t know existed. We can not hold on to something and stay open to other different opportunities. So, “letting go” is permitting ourselves to be freed from a situation that is not serving us anymore. As mentioned previously, nothing lasts forever in the very same way. We live in a world with constant change and transformation. Even a stone changes its shape just not as fast as a tree or a human being. For example, a stable and happy relationship of 10 years is not the same as it was 5 years ago, not even 6 months ago. Challenges, difficulties, and change are continual companions in our life if we want it or not. It is often that the pain or suffering needs to be so big that our fear of letting go is in comparison not as painful as staying in the current situation. Letting go includes a process of growth and transformation and that happens only if we learn that everything is persistently altering and nothing lasts forever in the very same way. It is about detaching ourselves from the outcome of an object or situation and giving life the chance to unfold in front of us. We start to train and cultivate our minds to face changes, lay the foundation for our hearts to be able to let go of anything that has no benefit to our life anymore.
Change happens when the pain of holding on becomes greater than the fear of letting go. – Spencer Johnson
As coaches, we support the client to identify and recognize what they are holding on to and what isn’t serving them. Together we discover what is the present reality and situation. What is the reason that the client wants to change something in their life? What are they looking for? Why do they look for ____? What kept them from achieving that by themselves?
- What is it that you are holding on to?
- What do you like about what you are hanging on to?
- What are you REALLY afraid of?
What are the underlying limiting beliefs and what is the client telling themselves?
- What makes you believe that?
- How does that make you feel?
- How does what you are hanging on fulfilling you?
Once the client finds out what have been the benefits or beliefs of holding on to something, we go to uncover what letting go of that “something” would look like. What story do they tell themselves and how can they let go of that story?
- What’s about this story you are holding on to?
- How does that affect your life?
- What might you lose by letting go?
- What will you gain by letting go?
- What needs to be resolved to let go?
- What makes it so hard/difficult to let go?
It is usually more convenient to play the blame game, rather than to take responsibility and ownership of our own life.
- What can you do about it?
- What is your part in this situation?
- What is now possible?
Identifying what the client can learn from this or past situations in the current moment:
- How will letting go help you grow as a person?
- What are you learning about yourself?
- What are you learning from the past?
- What is now different from then?
The client needs to distinguish what their motive, purpose, or intention is for the future. What is it that will drive them to move forward?
- What life do you imagine for yourself?
- What is the goal, intent, or motive you want to set for yourself?
- What commitment do you want to set for yourself?
We need to give the client time to process, it can be challenging and uncomfortable. They are living in their comfort zone. We need to be gentle, cautious, and give enough space to express, but still, be able to challenge the client so that they see for themselves what else is possible and explore further.
The client might not know that there are different choices or options to a situation or event and does not allow themselves to see them, because where they are now is probably not fulfilling but safe, convenient, and “in control”. But it takes away the chance to grow to another level. “Letting go” permits the client to see things from a different perspective or lens, finding a new purpose, and engaging in more transformative growth.
Some additional tools can be used to support the client let go during or outside the session:
- Breathing exercise
- Emotional freedom technique (EFT)
- Wheel of life assessment
We as coaches have our own beliefs and patterns. We need to be able to differentiate on what is required in the session and what to let go of.
We are also just human beings and live a life full of challenges, some sort of stress, and opportunities to grow and transform. But as coaches, we have the obligation to be in the “here and now” with our clients to be the support that they need and pay us for. So, before going into a session, we need to be prepared and I don’t just mean the material. What I mean is being mindful and present to ourselves at this moment. Arranging some time where we can go inside of ourselves and become aware of “how do I feel right now”?
- Is there something that I need to let go of before starting the session?
- What can support me in letting go and being fully present for the client?
- What tools can I use to make the process easier for me and potentially for the client?
- Am I holding onto the daily stress or do I give myself some time for self-care?
Holding on to anything that is not serving us in any way is restricting our potential to unfold and ignite. We need to learn to accept that nothing lasts forever in the same way. To let go is a process, it can be painful and uncomfortable, but it is liberating and creates a sense of choice where we can see and decide for other opportunities and possibilities. There is not just one way and it is ok to make mistakes on the path of growth. Letting go is an act of self-love. It will take time, but it is a step in the right direction.