As we age, it becomes apparent that we must create new lives. Will we change careers, begin retirement, travel, downsize or stay where we are?
Whatever the changes, they are often associated with the fear of making those choices. We begin to worry about money, our family, our health, where we should live, should we settle down or roam the world.
When we were raising our families, those decisions seemed to be made for us – we must keep a job and take care of the children, with all of the responsibility that entails. There was very little free time, and it usually consisted of weekends or a once-a-year family vacation and then we went back to the routine.
Now, in our 60s and beyond, we have to make a conscious decision about the things we want in our lives.
Our job in this time of our lives is not to hurry to make something happen. Now we have the opportunity to allow the soft flowing of events to become clear to us and then follow the path that has the most meaning in our lives.
It can be very easy to remain in our old patterns, letting familiar circumstances drive our daily lives. If we look more closely, however, we would realize that we are entering a brand new chapter, and that is a tremendous gift. This is our opportunity, maybe for the first time, to do something just for ourselves.
As this realization sinks in, many of us try to employ the same principles of getting things done – we take action. What is really ironic about this concept though, is that the harder we try to make anything happen, the less likely it is to turn out in a way that is pleasing to us.
Letting go is much easier said than done. Our entire lives we are taught that we must work and struggle in order to get things accomplished. We are continuously told that hard work is the only way to achieve the results we desire.
Always trying to control external circumstances is exhausting, and, in the end, it is never really possible. We cannot control anything outside of our own self, so that is where we must concentrate our efforts.
That is why so many spiritual teachers advocate practices like meditation, mindfulness, yoga, prayer and journaling. Anything that allows our conscious mind to relax and release resistance will provide benefits in all areas of our lives.
Just like any other skill, we must learn to develop techniques that work for us. This is not a one-size-fits-all solution, so we must do what feels right for us on a personal level.
Much like everything else in life, it is very easy to approach this area as something else to manage or control. Trying to unlearn my controlling habits is the most difficult thing I will ever do in my life.
Even now, after many years of practicing the aspects of letting go, I find myself slipping back into my old habits. It is important for me to do something each day, even for just a few minutes, to reclaim my balance and continue forward.
What works best for me is to keep it simple, and find those things that bring me joy. Sometimes, I find peace when writing in my journal or going for a walk. Other days it is playing with my grandchildren or planning a trip to some faraway place.
It really doesn’t matter what means you choose to free yourself from the burden of those old habits. All that matters is that you find ways to release the anxiety and tension so that you can learn to experience the peace that comes from just being in the world.
When that peace comes, events will unfold that we never could have planned, bringing to us those very things we thought we had to chase after. It is ultimately more satisfying to have everything we desire come to us in the perfect way and at the perfect time than to try to manipulate or coerce it.
For me, appreciation is a key factor in everything I do. I am grateful for what I already have in my life and look forward to whatever new surprise is on the horizon. I always trust that something wonderful is about to happen, and my only job is to relax and enjoy it.
How do you relax and let go? Do you do anything differently now that you are older? Have you had any experiences with how something occurred after releasing control? Share your stories and join the conversation!
I have found it very unsettling to no longer have the child caring structure to my life. I was used to taking care of kids, husband, house, job, etc. My life revolved around my kids’ needs. Now, I am divorced after 44 years and I don’t see a purpose to my life. I have friends, groups, family, book clubs, activities, etc. but my core feels unstable. I struggle to see what direction my life is going and why.
Hi Linda, what a time of change for you. I think the ingredients of your life now are a good way to build that web of connection again, this time with you at the center of your life. Keep learning and trying new things as this life becomes your new ‘home’, and I wish you all the best!