One of the greatest challenges that we face as human beings is learning to let go. We tend to hang onto all of the negative experiences that accumulate during our lifetime, storing the pain deep in our subconscious and carrying it every single day in our posture and behaviour. But letting go is essential for healthy growth and for truly effective personal development.
Many years ago I heard a brilliant speech by a celebrated mountain climber. He said that when you’re halfway up a mountain, clinging to an ice face with the freezing wind whipping around you and feeling extremely vulnerable, there are some very important rules to follow:
First, don’t look down! He said looking back is a complete waste of time, a distraction from what needs to be done. Where you come from is irrelevant. Life is shaped by you’re heading.
Second, ignore what other people are doing. There may be other teams on the mountain, competing to reach the top. Ignore them. Focus on what you’re doing. That’s where you can make the greatest difference to your own life.
Third, look up. Look at where you’re going. Focus on your goal. The reason that you’re hanging on to the side of a mountain is because it will take you to where you want to go. Concentrate on the destination. Aim for the peak.
Fourth, in order to move on, you have to let go. Your instinct tells you to hang on with every fibre of your being but the only way forwards is to release that manic grip and reach for the next handhold. One hand, one foot, one step at a time. Moving on. Going up. Aiming for the goal.
I thought the entire speech was somehow directed at me personally. I could see so clearly how much I’d been clinging to the past, to the pain, to the mistakes, to the regrets. It was time to turn all my attention to the future and learn to let go of the past.
It was a turning point in my life. It might not feel entirely natural because we’ve learned to hold onto the pain and the past as if they were some kind of personal, private possessions. They aren’t. They’re the dead weight you carry on your back. Let go of the burden of the past and start to move so much more easily into a different, brighter, better future.
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