Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Telling the truth Tuesday - Letting go

My world was very scary as a child. I had parents who fought constantly, from slight bickering to loud shouting matches. The result was that I had no solid foundation of unconditional love and support from which to form a healthy self-esteem. What that created was a child who tried to anticipate each and every thing anyone around her would say, do, feel, think, and how they might react. The child thought if she could control everything and everyone around her, then she'd be safe.

When you carry those behaviors into adulthood, it makes for a very unhappy existence. One of my most favorite slogans from the 12-step programs is Let Go and Let God. When I first heard it, I didn't have a clue what it meant. It literally took years for me to understand what letting go means and even more years to be able to do it. Letting go means you are only responsible for your own thoughts, feelings and behaviors. What anyone else thinks, feels and does is none of your business and certainly not in your control. We can only change ourselves.

I've needed to remind myself of this crucial life principle. I can't change the health issues of those around me. I can't fix them. I can't change how they deal with these issues. I have to let go of those needs in me and accept that this is their journey and it will evolve as it needs to for them. I can only stand by in love and support and share my experience, wisdom and strength as needed. I may wish things to turn out a certain way, but I have no control over whether that happens. I can only take steps to make it so.

Today I am choosing to let go of my desire to control people and things around me. What might you let go of?



Vicki Rocho said...

Great reminder! I struggle with this. Not wanting to disappoint a single soul is exhausting. I can at least acknowledge now that I have very little control over others. Even if I do everything right, others still might get angry or want more. Like everything else, I'm workin' on it!

Glynis said...

I have some emotional baggage to let go very soon.
Glad you are finding strength to let go too. ♥

Janna Qualman said...

This is a hugely important post, Karen. Thank you for sharing this. If we'd all that the advice of that--Let Go and Let God--and your words, too, we'd be so much better off.

Karen Walker said...

Vicki, I think most everyone struggles with this. And yes, even if we do everything "right", we can't please everyone.
Glynis, sending you prayers and hugs as you move through the journey of letting go.
Janna, thank you so much. You are so right, we'd all be better off if we could let go and let God more and more.

arlee bird said...

You are so correct with what you are saying here, Karen. It's enough of a challenge to tend to ourselves without trying to control everyone elses thoughts and feelings. We never really know for sure what other people are actually thinking and feeling even from what they say and how they behave. I have found this out after two divorces. When it comes to others, you do what you can and that's about all you can do. The rest is up to them.
Wonderful post that I hope reaches some people who need it.

Tossing It Out

Karen Walker said...

Lee, thanks for these heartfelt words.

Jules said...

WOW, this post spoke to me. I too suffer from low self esteem but mask it with a bigger than life wonder woman complex, all the while sitting in the dark shivering.

I concur with your resolution. For me it is not the accepting of others but rather learning what of myself to let go of.

Beautiful post Karen.
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Let Go and Let God is a great book - was reading it part of the program?

Cyndi said...

Detachment was one of the most difficult concepts for me to grasp and was even more difficult to practice...still is sometimes. Like everything else, it gets easier the more often I do it, but I do have to be conscious of my thoughts and actions and actively remind myself to detach regularly. It doesn't happen naturally yet. I hope it does someday. What might I let go of now? I still get caught up in trying to "fix" my husband's moods. He doesn't ask me to and they rarely have anything to do with me. Like you I was brought up to be on alert for even the slightest indication of a change in my parents' moods and jump in to swing things back to safety. So, even though my husband is nothing like my parents my immediate response is to tense up when he is angry or even mildly irritated and try to do something about it. This never works and usually is actually quite annoying.

Jen Chandler said...

I'm always happy when I stop by here. I really need to let go of how much I care what others think of me. I've got a lot better at this (a LOT) but I still have a long way to go. We should never let other dictate what we do with our lives, our decisions, what we think of ourselves.

Your blog is always an encouragement!

The Old Silly said...

You're doing a fine job of 'letting go' it seems. Me? I'm letting go of anxiety over what might have been, always working on being satisfied in the here and now and the way it is. Doesn't mean I don't set goals and strive to achieve, but if what I want to happen doesn't happen, something else has happened, and learn to live with and love that, hmm?

Anonymous said...

I lurked.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Well, you can only control you. And for some of us, that's enough.

Helen Ginger said...

Every time I read a post by you, it seems like you are growing, or perhaps evolving is a better word. You have great insight into yourself.

Karen Walker said...

Jules, so glad the post spoke you. Thanks.
Diane, I don't know that book. Let Go and Let Got was a slogan used in the 12-step program.
Cyndi, oh yes, I relate. Other people's moods is one of the hardest things for me to accept and not try to change.
Jen, thanks for the compliment. Hope you're feeling okay these days.
Old Silly, yes, yes, yes. Sounds good.
Alex, yes, it is enough to control ourselves. It's all we have control over anyway.
Helen, thank you. I am always working on learning more about myself and trying to do better. It's nice to see that others can see the growth.

Summer Ross said...

I come from a background similar to yours parent wise. Add in some alcohol and other things though...however I usually have to tell myself to let go of my anger. I get upset and emotional and its hard to take a breath and let it go. so I constantly work at letting the small things go with minimal disruptions.

Ann said...

Letting go is hard. It feels like losing control when in actual fact it is freeing. I tell myself this over and over and yet, I grip steadfastly to control. HeyHo! I wish you success in your pursuit of freeing your spirit.

Sharon Lippincott said...

This reminder couldn't have come at a more timely moment. Thank you!

Karen Walker said...

Summer, I empathize. Yes, anger is a hard one to let go of - good luck with that.
Ann, yes, you are so right. It is freeing. But that's hard to remember when we're in the midst of controlling the world.
Sharon, so glad. YOu're welcome.

Crystal Clear Proofing said...

Being fortunate in possessing proprioception and being one who is very involved in self-improvement and self-empowerment, I think "Let Go, Let God" is the most common and steadfast *method* for attaining inner peace. It's also one of the simplest, if we are willing to literally *let go* of the pretention that WE know best and that we can *do this* ourselves.

Attempting to undertake any kind of healing or moving forward in our growth alone is an empty journey — and, for the most part, an unsuccessful one. Realizing that you do not have to venture out blindly...that simply by letting go of our need to control, and accepting the fact that help is always there for us, takes a huge burden off our shoulders, making room for positive steps forward... in our search for and eventual attainment of HAPPY.

Although not a *destination* to be reached and then you're done, you've *made it!* — the quest and attainment of HAPPY is tricky. Happiness requires cultivation and care...as opposed to misery and unhappiness, which grow like weeds. I believe the HAPPY quest is a lifelong venture, and the more we *practice,* the easier it gets. I don't like being a sponge for others' emotions. I don't like being in "the pit," so I'm willing to let go. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to not only be as happy as I'll allow myself, but to override that and accept the happiness that is offered me by the Universe, a Higher Power...what or whomever you've turned things over to.

With Blessings and HAPPY,


Karen Walker said...

Oh, Crystal, exquisitely put. Wish you were writing things like this on a regular basis. Such wisdom here. Thanks.

Gail said...

I am a fixer, too. I am trying to let go of that and be a listener only.

Karen Walker said...

Hi Gail,
Welcome. Oh, I know what being a fixer is like. Learning to listen only is such a great skill. Good luck with that.

KK Brees said...

Letting go is liberating. So is forgiving. I used to think that forgiving let somebody off the hook, so to speak. I didn't realize the only person on the hook was me.

Jemi Fraser said...

Letting go is one of the hardest things to do in life. One line I often say to kids is "you can't change someone else's behaviour, but you can change how you react to it". It's not easy - but it is doable.