You’re Exhausted and Unhappy. It’s Time to Let Go.
“We don’t let go of anything until we have exhausted all the possible ways that we might keep holding on to it.” - William Bridges
We spend much of our early adulthood obsessed with our "little self," the ego-defined way we show up in the world. As a good ego should, the little self separates us from others and creates a narrative that both defines and confines us.
For many of us, it's in midlife that our little self starts feeling like it's deconstructing. Brené Brown calls this the "midlife unraveling." Life's circumstances feel like a bully in a dark alley. But, being loyal to our ego, the little self joylessly, resiliently persists.
If we're fortunate and if we're awake and aware enough, a "bigger self" starts to emerge. It's big, not because it's trying to compete with the ego, but because it's connected to something far more expansive than ourselves. Some might call it our soul trying to unite with a universal spirit. By any definition, it's playing a big, deep game, not a small, shallow one.
Ultimately, this bigger self knows why we are here on earth and what we are intended to do. Yet, with its fixed attitudes and pretensions of being at the center of life, the ego stands in the way. So, in our confusing midlife transitions, we often begin to see (and feel) the tug-of-war between the smaller and the bigger self.
At this time—when we feel vulnerable and liminal—we need to do the opposite of what we've historically done. Typically, when things get harder, we hold on tighter. That gives us a semblance of control and safety. But, there are certain times in life when we're just supposed to loosen our grip—supported by friends, therapy, coaches, or whatever other forms of emotional insurance we have available to us—so that the bigger self has the space to emerge and become victorious relative to the smaller self.
Of course, this isn't easy. And it's also why someone comes to MEA. They're tired of the tug-of-war. While there's no guarantee that your life will look the same once you let go, surrendering is courageous and an act of profound faith. It may be the scariest thing….and the most liberating thing you ever do. As I said at the start of this post, "You're exhausted and unhappy. It's time to let go of that way of doing and being."