The Art of Letting Go

Aug 12, 2011 2 Comments

by Carol Hohle

I recently read Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. It was a great read, but if I was her editor I would encourage her to rename it, “The Art of Letting Go.”

As a researcher/storyteller, Brown has studied shame, courage, authenticity and vulnerability for more than a decade.  Her findings have led her to be an advocate for wholehearted living and an impassioned speaker about embracing vulnerability, worthiness and imperfection. Her talk on TEDx – see below – is an engaging overview of her Wholeheartedness thesis where she ponders the questions:

How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy?

For me, the “secret sauce” I’ve been discovering about life has everything to do with the art of letting go.  Letting go of assumptions, letting go of the need to control, letting go of worry/doubt/fear.  And, instead, replacing all my energy spent on planning, controlling, doubting etc with a spirit of openness and compassion.

I love that Breen picks up on this theme of letting go!  In fact she even uses the phrase “letting go” in each of the ten chapter titles she calls “guideposts” in her book:

  1. Cultivating authenticity: Letting go of what people think
  2. Cultivating self-compassion: Letting go of perfectionism
  3. Cultivating a resilient spirit: Letting go of a numbing and powerlessness
  4. Cultivating gratitude and joy: Letting go of scarcity and fear of the dark
  5. Cultivating intuition and trusting faith: Letting go of the need for certainty
  6. Cultivating creativity: Letting go of comparison
  7. Cultivating play and rest: Letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth
  8. Cultivating calm and stillness: Letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle
  9. Cultivating meaning work: Letting go of self-doubt and “supposed to”
  10. Cultivating laughter, song, and dance: Letting go of being cool and ‘always in control’

Letting go without a safety net, or foundation that you trust, probably isn’t a wise idea.  And neither Breen nor I advocate a laissez fare attitude about letting go.  Instead we’re advocating a ‘letting go’ practice that nurtures qualities of authenticity, self-compassion and resilience.

Breen’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, is a quick, worthwhile read.  And, if you don’t have the inclination to read the whole book then I definitely recommend this 20-min video – you’ll find all the major themes of her book embraced in this message.

Try the spiritual practice of “letting go.”  I think you’ll find it joy inducing!

Books, Compassion, Resilience

2 Responses to “The Art of Letting Go”

  1. Kendra says:

    Loved the TED talk she gave — I bet I’d love this, too! Thanks for bringing our attention to it.

  2. Hollister says:

    I love her! I’d seen this TED talk before, but didn’t realize she was connected to a book. Sounds like a wonderful read…thanks for the book report :)

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