The Cathartic Power of Letting Go
I don’t know about you but I don’t want to die with regrets.
In fact, my drive to thrive and live life as fully as possible, liberated from the shackles of my past, is so powerful that it can be scary.
For many reasons, but nearly all include this inner pull to let go of my past so I can be more fully alive in the present.
I have come too far ever to want to revisit old beliefs, habits, deep-seated fear, anger, resentment, and other debilitating ways of thinking and acting that I know only bring pain. For years they were the source of anguish that I held onto and used as an excuse for why I nearly drank myself to death before getting sober at 22.
Escape with drugs and alcohol was a solution. So were sex, gambling, shopping, and overachievement, until they weren’t.
When I made the decision to get sober I was left with a gaping hole and needed to fill it with something healthy, something loving and kind. Something that would extend my life. Something that would help me heal from the inside out. That something was a spiritual awakening.
Any friends of Bill W. know what I mean. Others with a strong sense of spiritual understanding may as well.
Nearly as scary as a life trapped in a downward spiral of negativity and emotion or addiction and fear is a greater tragedy—a silent killer of our soul—that permeates the body, mind, and spirit of countless millions. That silent, soul-sucking “disease” is regret.
That silent, soul-sucking “disease” is regret.
We all live with a certain amount of regret but if we want to fully become alive, we must learn to let that shot go and embrace the messiness of life and make the most of the cards we’ve been dealt.
Yesterday I had the privilege to participate in an author launch with 19 other authors from the Redwood Writers Club. Each author had five minutes to read a sample of their work.
So many authors were powerful and poignant, sharing heartfelt poems, a memoir of life in the sixties, second-chance romance, children’s books, and so much more. As I listened I thought, how wonderful it is that so many creative souls are brave enough to not only share stories but share them in public. To follow their passion and realize their own dreams of being published authors.
How awesome is that? For a few hours, I got to witness firsthand the power of dreams fulfilled and lives lived, at least for those five minutes, without regret. Of conquering any fear of public speaking and being vulnerable enough to tell their stories in public. To me, each author who spoke epitomized what it means to be brave and not regret the fact that they wish they would have written a book, or whatever.
Because of the energy and feedback I got from my short talk, I feel compelled to share my own notes verbatim from my latest book, Ten Seconds of Boldness: The Essential Guide to Solving Problems and Building Self-Confidence.
I share them because of the impact they had on those brave enough to approach me at the break and share what these words meant to them and why they wanted to buy my book.
For instance, an 80-year-old man named Gary was vulnerable enough to share with me the challenges he had with his estranged daughter of forty years. And though he forgave his own father and himself as best he could ( he didn’t say why and I chose not to ask in public), he was now grappling with how to repair the broken relationship with his daughter. He even asked for my number so we could talk more about it later. I happily obliged.
I don’t share this to brag. I share this because this is the power each and every one of us holds with our life experiences—good, bad, and indifferent. The point is none of us know who we can reach until we are vulnerable enough to talk about our truth and brave enough to let go of most of that crap from our past.
Every single human on the face of this glorious planet has the unique ability to reach others in a way that is purposeful, meaningful, and lasting. We also have the ability to let go of all the pain and anger of our past and to write or tell a new story for the remaining days of our lives. We get to choose.
The story we tell may be a tragedy or it may be a love story or a little bit of both. It will be whatever we decide and choose it to be.
My hope and prayer for the handful of folks that read this are that you do not allow your past to continue to hold you back from the possibility of a better today and tomorrow. That you find the courage within to let go of that bag of crap you’ve been dragging around far too long and instead become courageous enough to write a happy ending to a life lived with no more regrets.
Here are my notes verbatim. I hope you find what you’re looking for and become brave enough to take a chance on yourself.
Author Launch 2/18/23
The Essential Guide to Solving Problems and Building Self-Confidence
I wrote this book because I don’t want to die with regrets. (HOLD IT UP!)
Regret for all the things I wish I would have done but never truly believed I could. Regret that I believed the lies of my inner critics, who incessantly questioned my credibility because I don’t have three or four letters after my name. That decades of experience overcoming challenges of all kinds did not qualify me to discuss the value of courage and confidence. Regret that I was so afraid of failing that I never found the courage to try.
– From Why This Book, Now? Page xxi
I wrote this book because I don’t want to die with regrets.
– Now, here’s an excerpt from pages 79–82…
Bridging the Confidence Gap
“It’s not what you think you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you are not.”- Dennis Waitley
For Father’s Day in 2021, my son treated me to a zipline tour. For two and a half hours we traversed the treetops across seven ziplines and two sky bridges. The only things that separated us from the forest floor two hundred and fifty feet below were a harness with pulleys, a 3/8” cable, and the courage to let go.
It was the most exhilarating and memorable Father’s Day ever!
Though I was anxious on the first two zips, I relaxed by the third. I found my legs, so to speak. Until we approached a hundred-foot-long, wobbly sky bridge made of ropes and planks. I stared at it, then at the ground. My knees began to shake. Unlike the ziplines which meant harnessing up and letting go to enjoy the ride, to continue our adventure meant I had to put one foot in front of the other and cross that rickety bridge seventy-five feet above the hard ground below. I watched as others crossed first and realized it wasn’t impossible. I grabbed the rope rails, and after finding my balance, found it was not as scary as I thought. I took a few steps then skipped the rest of the way across.
When I got to the other side, My son asked, “What was that all about Dad?”
“I decided to have fun ’cause I knew it was safe.”
Your Confidence Gap is Not as Big as You May Think
The bridge between where you are and where you want to be is shorter than you think. In fact, for most people, it’s only six to seven inches: the average space between your two ears.
The goal of this chapter is to inspire you to take the next step forward. To help you bridge your confidence gap.
When I have too many projects, goals, and to-dos going on at the same time I can easily get scattered and lose focus. They all seem important, but whenever I look at them all at once, I get overwhelmed. It’s like an overstuffed garage or closet, or a home office with disorganized drawers, boxes of notes, and yes, even file drawers bursting with old utility bills, notebooks, etc.
Eventually, the clutter of my environment and my mind becomes so great that I feel ineffective. To regain focus, I take time to organize and declutter.
When I finally decide to tackle big projects, organizing or otherwise, I do it one drawer, one closet, and one room at a time. I focus on making progress in one area before moving on to the next.
… I don’t obsess over results. I strive to maintain a healthy balance between work and relaxation, remembering to also take time out to celebrate my accomplishments, small or large…
This process has become a set routine or habit. Just like making my bed in the morning.
Prompt #1: Make Your Bed and Take Out the Trash
It’s important to pay attention to unresolved problems or unfulfilled ambitions you have and how you typically respond to them. Watch for:
Choose one area, skill, attitude, or belief, that’s been bugging you or that you’ve been procrastinating over and make a decision to do something about it as soon as you finish this chapter.
Be bold. Practice the five steps. Decide, commit, and let it go, now.
It can be anything. Making your bed. Taking out the trash. Starting a load of laundry. Anything. The key is not to just think about it, but to actually do it. Decide what it is, then make a plan, write it down, set a date, and get started. That’s how it’s done.
As you apply the skills you learn in the book, it will become readily apparent how easy it is to transfer them to other areas essentially building your confidence one closet or room at a time. The cure to overcoming any and all of the above is: Be bold. Practice the five steps. Decide, commit, and let it go, now.
I have an exclusive offer for those who purchase Ten Seconds of Boldness today that you won’t want to miss—
Sign up for my newsletter and send me an email with a picture of the book and I will send you the edited, unmastered audio file of Chapter Six of the audiobook of TSB (to come out this summer), for free!
Visit shawnlangwell.com and sign up for my email list.
I don’t sell your name and only use it to send any latest musings, advice, or life lessons. If you need more encouragement, shoot me a message: at email@example.com.
If you want to learn more about letting go including how to silence your inner critics, overcome procrastination, get over writer’s block, or increase your self-confidence, you should buy and read my latest book, Ten Seconds of Boldness. It will change your life if you are willing to change.
It must have felt so good to be able to use your own experience to help that father with this hard situation with his daughter. What a gift!
It truly did. Instances like that make what I write about and share so worth the countless hours of recalling, writing, editing, and trying to communicate real experiences in a way that can help others. When people are open enough to share stories like that with me that I may have something valuable to offer in return are why I do what I do. And, if it wasn’t for you I doubt I would even have opportunities like the one I mentioned.