Life keeps serving us up the same issues until we learn the lesson.
That’s how it works, amigos. Until we experience that V-8 moment, we continually face the same problems that have always dogged us. And because we are either not paying attention or very stubborn, when we learn the lesson, most of us learn it the hard way.
I had an epiphany last week as I watched my 17-year old vehicle being driven away by its new owner. I literally hit myself in the forehead with my palm as my eyes followed my silver sport utility as it disappeared down the road. It was at that moment that I realized that I had held onto it for too long. And because of my unwillingness to let it go, I paid a price in dollars, stress, and time. At that moment I knew that this had been the case in other areas of my life. That was the reason I kept having the same issue raise its ugly head at me over the years.
There’s no plan or special process to follow to achieve success. All you need to do is be mindful of the things, people, and situations that you may be clinging to. Then, step back, make a plan and let go, confident that you’re severing ties to an attachment that has run its course. It’s simple in theory, but can be challenging to execute.
Instead of articulating a multi-step plan, I’ll touch on key areas where I have fallen prey to holding on for too long at the cost of personal growth and success. Although I’ve learned my lesson and have grown wiser as I move forward, I will be tested again. But, I will face each challenge as they crop up. For now, let’s do this. I offer you the Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Letting Go.
Drum roll, please…
1. Love – Who hasn’t stayed in a relationship too long? Most of us, and definitely me. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m lazy, optimistic that people can change, or just lame. When it comes to love, it’s been all of the above. I’ve made the same mistake of hanging on too long more than once. Now that I’m happily married, hopefully I’ve learned my lesson in this area of my life. In a number of past relationships, deep down I knew things weren’t right, but I forged on, and on, and on. Instead of advancing or ending the relationships, I trudged along, grasping at straws that things would eventually turn out the way I had originally hoped. But in each affair, I let the clock run out and each woman caught me off guard and left me high and dry. That should never have happened, but I just let things be for too long.
In retrospect, and in deference to the women, I should have ended these relationships the moment I came to terms with the fact that nothing was going to change. Even if the abrupt exits hurt at the time, I bounced back and hold no grudges. In fact, the only person I am upset with is yours truly, because I did a disservice to the women and to myself by not moving on at the appropriate time. But, that was then, and it all worked out. All of the ladies are now married and I hope that they are happy. I know that I am.
2. Work – Your job sucks, but you hang in there anyway. Yep, we’ve all done that. It could be the money, not wanting to be looking without having a job, or sheer laziness. In any case, as the pages fall off the calendar, that job you hate can start to work against you. And, many times, it doesn’t end well. My career has been a roller coaster of high highs and low lows, but that’s okay. The highs have made everything worth it and each high was higher than the last one, so I know the next high is going to be off the charts.
I’ve stayed in a few jobs that I despised too long and every time it worked against me. The people who were jerks never changed, conditions went from bad to worse, and eventually these jobs turned into torture with a paycheck. A few came of these situations came to abrupt endings, just like my expired relationships. It doesn’t have to be that way though. When you know it’s not happening at work the way it was promised, start looking. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that you’ll automatically move into a perfect situation, but at least you are investing your energy into making a positive change. In the end, it all works out the way it’s meant to be. Just don’t sit there until you get canned because it’s obvious that you hate your job and don’t want to be there.
3. Home – Moving is a pain in the ass, but not moving is not always a good option. This is another area where we all fall prey into staying in a situation too long. I hung onto a modest studio on the West Side for a few decades because it was cheap and convenient. The good news is that I bought the place for less than the price of my car so I always had cash in my pockets. The bad news is the place was below my standards and as a result I hesitated bringing really hot women home with me because I did not feel comfortable about my digs. When I eventually sold it, it financed my current home, so I’m not complaining. But I probably could have flipped it and traded up or bought a bigger unit when my building went co-op and I had access to the insider price. But I didn’t, and that’s that. I made money and had the luxury of keeping a crash pad in the city. I also learned my lesson about holding on to things that no longer served my needs and station in life.
4. Car – I kept my vehicle for 17 years. Never keep a vehicle for 17 years unless you’re a mechanic. Over the past two years my ride was towed three times, and I was forced to invest over $3,000 in various repairs for a sport utility that I rarely drove. And when I did drive it, I was terrorized by every weird sound I heard coming from under the hood.
When I finally found a buyer via a local dealership reference, the guy showed up at my home with a thick wad of twenty-dollar bills. The day before I had experienced a flat tire and a dead battery, and the check engine light was on. Fortunately, I fixed the flat for $15 and got a jump to restart my battery, which somehow shut off the check engine light. I was shitting when the buyer looked under the car and noticed something dripping slowly onto the asphalt. He bought and sold cars for a living so I’m sure he had people who would take care of that, but it was just another stress point that could have been avoided if I would have sold the car a few years earlier. But, he handed over the cash.
Like I said, this experience flipped the switch for me. After I counted the stack of twenties and the buyer drove off, I realized that I had finally learned my lesson about hanging onto things too long.
This lesson also applies to holding on too tight to our dreams and aspirations. I’m not suggesting that you give up. What I am suggesting is that you let go and let God and Oneness and the Universe do the heavy lifting.
Hopefully, I won’t fall into the same old pattern again. But that’s on me. Somehow I think I have a better handle on the situation now that I know what I was doing wrong and why the same things kept happening over and over again. This lesson also applies to holding on too tight to our dreams and aspirations. I’m not suggesting that you give up. But if you let go and let God and Oneness and the Universe do the heavy lifting, you’ll be surprised at the results. I hope this spurs you guys to rethink your own habitual patterns and helps you break any bad habits before they break you.
The week’s GUY’S GUY OF THE WEEK is all of us. It may have taken me a very long time to sort out my issue, but when the time was right the message rang loud and clear. I know you can do it, too.