I have a teenage son, which means that I am continually forced to balance my need for control with his need for independence. You’d think I’d be used to this dance by now — he’s my fourth — but as I’ve discovered, each child is a new experience. One day, when this son was still a little boy, I found myself pondering the nature of parenting and decided that parenting is, simply, a long process of letting go. From birth to adulthood and beyond, each step a child takes towards independence and a life of her own is a step away from her parents. For parents, this letting go process is anything but easy. Take it from me.
Learning to let go is, of course, not confined to the process of parenting. There is letting go of control related to others’ behaviors (family members and work colleagues come to mind), of life circumstances that are beyond our control (illness, job loss, natural catastrophe), and of people (relocation, death, divorce). And sometimes we have to let go of old dreams so that we may create new ones.
This week’s journaling prompts are designed to help you explore letting go.
- What does “letting go” mean to you? What do you think of when you hear the words “letting go”? And how do they make you feel? Use a deepening phrase to fully explore your thoughts.
- On a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is someone who goes with the flow and 10 is a control freak, where would you place yourself, why, and do you have negative judgments about where you are on that scale? Explain.
- In what ways is letting go similar to giving up, and in what ways is it different? Freewrite for at least ten minutes about this question.
- What was the most difficult thing, person, idea, or dream you’ve had to let go of? What happened in your life as a result of letting go?
- Is there anything in your life now that you wish to or have to let go of? How are you responding to that wish or requirement? What choices are you making and why?
- What is your greatest fear surrounding letting go of control? Repeat the deepening phrase, “If ________ happens, then …” to explore your fear.
- When you need to let go of something you don’t want to let go of, what do you do to cope? (Coping mechanisms might include journaling, crying, talking to friends, exercise, meditation, and so on.) What do you find most helpful in these situations?
Do you have a writing prompt or a story you’d like to share about letting go? Leave a comment below.