Get What You Really Want

The only way to get what you really want is to let go of what you don’t want. ~ Iyanla Vanzant

Getting what we want in life not only seems possible when we are young, but inevitable. Even in my darkest moments I believed with utter fervor and commitment that if I worked hard enough, did the right things, and followed the right path, I would have a fulfilling and meaningful life. I knew it would not be perfect, but it would be good enough.

Little did I know that I would be trapped by a mindset, passed down for generations, that would keep me bound and guided by forces that I could not see. Driven by a combination of habit, ego, and an immature idea of love and caring, I plowed through the first half of my life as if my days on earth were endless. Though that may sound extreme, it is crystal-clear to me (now that I have really “come of age”), that life is not what it seems when we are young!

When I woke up from a life, that upon reflection seems like a bad dream, I was nearly paralyzed by the awareness that in spite of the fifty years of effort and determination I was no nearer my original destination than I had been thirty years earlier. I felt as though I had wasted my life and that I had given it all away, keeping very little for myself.

My immediate response was to announce to myself and to anyone who would listen, “I’m done doing for everyone else. I’m done living my life for my children, my parents, my husband, my friends, my animals, my job! It’s time for me!” Those who bothered to listen undoubtedly heard the panic in my voice, and heard what I was really saying, “I’m running out of time! I need to pick up the pace!”

It has been almost ten years since my “mid-life crisis”. I still battle some of the same false beliefs that had pre-programmed my life, but the battle is fought with a little more wisdom…and compassion. One of  my most important lessons can be summed up by the quote by Lyanla Vanzant. “The only way to get what you really want is to let go of what you don’t want”.  We cling tenaciously to so many things in life, many of which have no real meaning or purpose in the overall scheme of things. These “things” keep us trapped, bound, and unhappy, whether they are material possessions, jobs, ideas or concepts.

The “letting go” is not always simple, or easy, and it isn’t a once and done kind of thing. In order to find a life of joy and meaning we must let go, over and over again. It is the only way to keep moving forward toward the life we were meant to live. The minute we begin to cling to something that does not bring joy and meaning to our lives, we can be certain that we are going away from our true selves instead of toward them. What drives us then is not passion but fear or insecurity. As we cling tenaciously to what we are doing, we use up the emotional and practical space we need available for something better. Sometimes we heap another layer on top trying to kill the pain and discomfort of living our wrong choices, by dousing ourselves in alcohol, material things, vacations, a new romance and a myriad of other escape tools. By filling our days with placebos, from the hedonistic to quasi-spiritual, we simply muffle our fear and accomplish only temporary escape from a life of true joy and inner peace.

Gradually, day by day, we can let go, one by one of those things that do not make us happy and then fill the space with something that does.  If you do not know what to put in the empty space, consider embracing the silence. Sit with the discomfort until you discover the exciting possibilities that exist just beyond your current awareness, they are ready and waiting and will truly fill the void.

9 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed this story. Letting go has been a practice in my life for some time. It is not always easy but for enter peace it is necessary. Grown children are the hardest but there are times that we even have to do this. To remain in a state of fear where we have no control wastes moments of our precious life. Thank you for your story. I hope that you visit my blog and I will be looking forward to reading more of your valuable insite.

  2. Its amazing how our mindset changes like a light switch was turned on when we reach a certain age but then we still hold tight to the things that got us to the wrong place.

    I enjoyed, Thank you!

  3. Hey Scott! So glad you stopped by! Always welcome your thoughts and insights. D

  4. You got me thinking about the mental energy I give to my fears and worries vs my desires and happy places! Nicely written with a wonderful use of the quote.

  5. Great post, Dorothy! I’ve been going through a metamorphosis of my own where I’m letting go of the stuff that really has no meaning to me.

    Every 20-year-old needs to read this! 🙂

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