A few years ago I encountered the term ‘throwness’ as coined by Martin Heideger. It was interesting to learn that ultimately, we are ‘thrown’ into this world and that we may not choose where we are thrown in terms of the social context, religion, and economic conditions. The point of ‘throwness’ is that as we strive to find our place in the world, we learn the rules and often roles that will ensure our survival wherever we are thrown.
A part of me found some comfort in this concept as it allowed me to make sense of how, in the quest for survival in the world, we latch onto certain roles, practices, and behaviours that are defined by our context. The roles we adopt ultimately become part of who we define ourselves as, and sometimes may become somewhat heavy, but we hold onto it at all costs because we erroneously start believing that it defines us and affirms our very existence.
It felt appropriate to reflect on all the roles I had embodied in my life because with a recent relocation to another city, I had difficulty in figuring out what it means in the different relationships and connections in my life. All of a sudden, even though I had consciously sought the change and the possibility of redefinition, I felt a sense of loss. I realised how the different roles I played acted like this comforting wrap that I wore and provided me a sense of meaning and belonging. I felt somewhat vulnerable in a space of not knowing what will emerge in this new phase of my journey. Even though I was so ready for the change, I still wanted to cling on and recall those roles that I know I needed to let go of. After all, the narrative playing in my head was that this is what I have known in my life and this is what made me a valuable person in the world. I found myself struggling to accept the expressions of discontent within myself as well as from other quarters with the process of transition. Yet, I continued to counsel myself to sit with it and just let it be, no matter how uncomfortable.
As I am still in the middle of this process, I am clear that I have to make peace with letting go of age-old patterns and roles and to be patient with myself as I start adjusting to a new version of myself. It was also Einstein that said that we have to learn the rules of life, but that the learning of the rules is meant to inform how we play the game of life on our own terms.
My process is continuing, but what I can say about the process of letting go and allowing personal redefinition is as follows:
(a) Accept that it is a process of discomfort
Letting go was never meant to be easy. Identify what’s causing unease – become aware (no matter how uncomfortable) of what it is within you that you should let go. Make the choice, a firm decision to move beyond awareness to actually letting go.
(b) Explore new possibilities
The point of letting go is about allowing something new to enter into your life. Think about what ‘benefit’ or ‘satisfaction’ you gain for allowing yourself to stretch. What will be the underlying drivers that can support this? Whether it is people or support in terms of process. Acknowledge this and share it with others who you trust and who will support you.
(c) Don’t overthink, and just act.
Most of us tend to overthink making a change. Act before your willpower lessens. Find ways to reinforce and support the process, get cheerleaders and even other resources. Be kind to yourself, and applaud your determination until you have let go and your new reality is in place.