When Thriving Means Letting Go by Amy DeRosia

CC Photo by  Hossein Ezzatkhah

CC Photo by Hossein Ezzatkhah

As life moves we need to move with it, not against it. Transition happens whether we’re ready or not. Of course it’s difficult to let go, to stretch, to accommodate, and to be in between here and there yet—discomfort is inevitable whether you remain in a stagnant story that no longer serves you or you decide to choose growth. So choose growth.
— Victoria Erickson


I very much believe in practicing the art of staying and fully living where you are. But no matter how good our attitudes are or how much we fight for something, sometimes we have to start over.  Sometimes our vision, businesses, relationships, or cities fall short. We've done all we can do to make them work. But it wasn't enough.

We often underestimate our capacity for change and hold onto things too long. If we get to the point where we're constantly saying, "I can't do this anymore." After a period of time, we have to honor that truth. Listen to ourselves. Let it go.

Saying "no thank you" to something that is no longer serving us can be one of the bravest, most loving choices we’ll ever make. We know a lot of good will eventually come from this experience, but right now it just hurts.

This is the part of the process we all like to gloss over. Facing the unknown after the "not this" realization can be scary, sad, and frustrating.

At this point, we need to forget about looking for the silver lining. Feel whatever emotions come to the surface. This is an opportunity to be super kind and loving to ourselves. Do activities we enjoy. Spend time with people we care about. Savor small moments in our lives.  Take time to re-envision what we want. Uncover what we learned from the experience. What worked? What didn't work? What will we do different next time? What are we grateful for?

Even if it hurts now or you don't know what's next, trust that you will rebuild in a stronger, more sturdy way because of this. Take small actions every day to move you closer to where you want to be.

As long as you take time to reflect, you will continue to make better guesses about what you want and need. Your skills will continue to improve. You'll get closer to creating the masterpiece, solving the problem, building deeper connections with others, and feeling more at home where you are.

For now, make sure you're taking extremely good care of yourself. Keep creating and experimenting. Realize how brave you are as you dust yourself off and try again.

How to Recover More Quickly from Disappointment by Amy DeRosia

Yes, if we care enough and dare enough, we will experience disappointment. But in those moments when disappointment is washing over us and we’re desperately trying to get our heads and hearts around what is or is not going to be, the death of our expectations can be painful beyond measure.
— Brene Brown

When you're learning something new or out of your comfort zone, eventually you're going to fall down. I had a moment like this recently and was reminded of how terrible it feels-even when you are fully aware of how useful failure is.

The word failure is imperfect. Once we begin to transform it, it ceases to be that any longer. The term is always slipping off the edges of our vision, not simply because it’s hard to see without wincing, but because once we are ready to talk about it, we often call the event something else- a learning experience, a trial, a reinvention- no longer the static concept of failure.
— Sarah Lewis

When we find the courage to put ourselves in situations where we fail more, we continue to grow and learn. But we also need ways to help us get back up after the fall.

In Brenè Brown's most recent book, Rising Strong, she does a great job of talking about what she calls "facedown" moments- failure, disappointment, shame, etc. One practical suggestion to help us learn the lessons from our failure is to write about them.  Using short writing exercises can help us discover new insights about our experiences.

Emotional upheavals touch every part of our lives. You don’t just lose a job, you don’t just get divorced. These things affect all aspects of who we are- our financial situation, our relationships with others, our views of ourselves, our issues of life and death. Writing helps us focus and organize the experience.
— James Pennebaker

She mentions a researcher from the University of Texas at Austin, James Pennebaker, who has studied the benefits of short bursts of writing in the healing process. His work shows that processing your uncomfortable emotions through writing for 15-20 minutes a day can help with symptoms of anxiety, depression, and improve your immune system in as little as 4 days.

Brene suggests two sets of prompts to work through your "facedown" moments. In this first set you want to make sure you don't censor yourself. Write down your actual reaction- not how you think you should respond.

First draft thoughts:

The story I'm making up-

My emotions-

My body-

My thinking-

My beliefs-

My actions-

Once you've got your initial thoughts on paper, you can go a little deeper or as she calls it "rumble" with a second set of questions.

"The Rumble" Process:

1. What more do I need to learn and understand about the situation?

What do I know objectively?
What assumptions am I making?

2. What more do I need to learn and understand about the other people in the story?

What additional information do I need?
What questions or clarifications might help?

3. What more do I need to learn and understand about myself?

What's underneath my response?
What am I really feeling?
What part did I play?

This specific method may be too rigid for you. But I hope you find a daily practice that helps you make brave choices.

P.s. Brené Brown is offering some classes now on her new site, Courage Works, about applying her research to everyday life -including a free class on the Anatomy of Trust.

Aliveness: A Birthday Reflection by Amy DeRosia

This is my Mimi enjoying some cider on her 85th birthday. She's a cutie, huh?

This is my Mimi enjoying some cider on her 85th birthday. She's a cutie, huh?

My favorite age is now.
— Kirsten Dunst

Today is my birthday! I've never felt more empty or more full. But mostly, I am grateful for an alive year.

There have been quite a few years in the past where I didn't feel like much was happening. You can go a long time without trying something new or getting out of your comfort zone. This type of inaction made me feel stuck, restless, and scared of failure.

This has been a year of motion. I've learned how to give and receive more help than I ever thought was possible. There has been a lot of laughter and tears. I've made mistakes and succeeded, had plenty of awkward moments, and learned a lot through experience. I feel more confident but uncomfortable too.

Aliveness is much more rewarding than stagnancy. But it still hasn't been easy. When you try to show up in your life fully, you feel depleted a lot of the time. I'm still figuring out how to manage my stress and take good care of myself.

I'm still learning to let go of who I think I'm supposed to be and allow things evolve naturally. There are so many things to look forward to and incredible people in my life. Thank you for being a part of it. 

My wish for you on my birthday is that you find the courage to go after what you want. I hope we all continue to feel more alive as we get older.