Every change, every improvement, every opportunity to grow also includes a moment of letting go; a letting go of the old, a letting go of what was. Before we start a new day we have to say farewell to the old day. Before we can start a new chapter we have to have finished the old chapter. Before we can take a new breath we have to exhale the old lung full of air. As we become a better person we have to be prepared to let go of the lesser person, in whatever way we care to define that.
Director of the High Performance Leadership program at Switzerland’s famous IMD Business School, psychologist and hostage negotiator George Kohlrieser describes this human process in his books “The Hostage at the Table” and “Care to Dare” in this way;
Attachment-> Bonding-> Separation-> Grief-> Attachment->……
He calls it “The Bonding Cycle” and in simple terms what it means is that life is full of making and letting go of bonds, or connections. We can bond to all sorts of things, not only people but things, pets, ideas, visions and beliefs and the process of living life is a never ending series of bonding cycles. Change and growth are all about an acceleration of bonding cycles.
It therefore follows that the more easily we can create bonds and the more easily we can deal with the grief that will inevitably ensue from letting go the less resistance to, and therefore the greater the propensity towards, growth there may be.
The use of the word grief is an interesting choice. Most of us will probably associate the word with the loss of a loved one, but the loss of anything involves a similar process. It may not evoke such acute emotions. In fact those emotions may be scarcely noticeable but the process is exactly the same, whether we have lost a pen, lost a bad habit or even changed our hairstyle, there will be a certain grief over the loss.
There is a saying that not all change means improvement but every improvement means change. It therefore follows that not all grief is good but all positive change will be accompanied by a degree of grief as we let go of what was.
So get used to it. The more easily we can deal with the loss of what was the more easily we can move forward. The pain cannot be avoided but what we can do is reframe the pain and therefore lessen its negative effect.
To create the new you, you have to be prepared to let go of the old you and all of the comfort that you associate with that.
Remember our comfort zone is not necessarily a place where we are comfortable. It is a place where we are familiar.
So what are you prepared to let go of today I wonder?