This month has taught me the biggest lesson in bravery yet. Are you ready?
This month I learned the art and rawness of letting go.
I needed to learn how to let go of control and to let go of the need to know the answer to everything just in case I might fail.
A world that feels “black and white” where everything feels either wrong or right, sounds calmer. But it’s far less rewarding and it’s also just not reality. We can’t control the weather, who wants to be our friends, and we definitely cannot control every single aspect of our journey.
As an individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder, I love order. In fact, the word “Disorder” almost feels ironic at times as I am always striving for structure and order in my life to remain motivated and yet calm. This really boils down to learning the art of self-control when my world feels totally out of control.
Starting a non-profit is hard work. There is an enormous element of loss of control. There is no promise that folks will donate, that family won’t get sick, that people won’t get angry. There’s no promise that projects will go as exactly as planned or that filings will be approved. No matter what you attribute to as the creator or source of all things—It didn’t matter how organized I was or prepared I felt at times—I knew I had to do my best and then surrender control to the outcome.
I would love to say that that felt totally liberating in the beginning.
But that is the opposite of the truth. My anxiety went through the roof. I found myself stimming more than ever, having more meltdowns than I could remember in a long time, and more self-doubt than ever.
I felt like it became my personal challenge to prove to myself that I could remain grounded no matter the circumstances. Maintaining self-control and self-confidence amidst total chaos felt like standing on the ground calmly with a F5 tornado whipping around me.
But then I learned something new.
There is a benefit to letting go. The concept of not being in total control felt a bit like a dance that I hadn’t been taught the choreography to at first. It still does some days. But the rhythm and steps started to make more sense as time went on and then a new type of routine is born.
Self-care during chaos in our lives was the first to come up for me. I needed a solid plan of action I could control and that was taking care of myself. Rest, hydration, yoga, deep breathing, and daily meditation became my rescue routine. Making time for me seemed counter intuitive when I had so much to do, but it turned out to be the most important.
But then, when I realized that the storm wasn’t actually me and I was just standing in it; That the chaos didn’t reflect my amount of effort or self-worth. I also starting to see letting go in a new light. I started to see that holding on to the reigns of every detail is actually a really heavy burden. I needed to learn to ask for help from those around me and how to say no which of course risked the idea of someone hating me.
I learned that asking for help isn’t me being a burden.
It shows that I can work as a team and that I trust others and value their opinions enough to take their advice. I learned that saying no didn’t evoke anyone hating me. In fact, I think I earned more respect from them than anything else. It helped me learn how to set healthier boundaries and how to be true to myself. But I had to let go of wishing everyone will love me and when that happened something huge shifted. I learned that gaining self-love is pivotal in self-control when the world is spinning.
As I sat on my yoga mat staring at the brand new 501c3 approval letter for Boston Calm, so many thoughts ran through my head. My hands were trembling with a weight of responsibility as they probably should to some respect.
But then I remembered my mission. I remembered my “why” and I remembered to breathe. I let go of the idea of wanting to raise millions in our first few years and surrendered to simply give it my all. I remembered that I’m not alone in this. I have an amazing team standing with me to help me make a difference.
Things won’t be perfect and lots of more hard work is ahead.
But letting go of having to do it alone, doing all right this moment, and doing it all absolutely perfectly—felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I realized that I was missing the joy in the gift that was in my hands as well. Just beyond the need for control is peace. You see, when we try to control every step, we take we tend to lose sight of where we are actually headed.
In what ways do you need to surrender more in your daily life?
What kinds of ways can you ask for help or say no? Why not try it? Flowers do not feel afraid of where their petals will fall into place. They simply bloom. This Spring, I dare you to let go.
If you liked this post, you may also like:
- More “Being Brave” essays by Gretchen Leary
- Self-Care ideas by Autistics FOR Autistics
- Why Autistics are Your Compass to Best Resources
- Hear Our Spectrum of Voices Comic
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