About the art of letting go

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When you let go, you have 2 hands free.

That sounds logical. For a change I need all the energy and limbs I have. To master a new start, I have to take action, roll up my sleeves. If I am still stuck in the past, that is exactly what will not work. Sounds plausible. If it is so logical, why is it so difficult? Why do we often get stuck in a situation that is not emotionally good for us, but from which we can’t get out either? We mourn so much for the old, what was, that we don’t even see the good sides of the new or don’t even want to admit them. And so we remain in destructive feelings. Or live in the past. That is not healthy. Neither for us nor for our fellow human beings. It can lead to bitterness. It can be vindictive. It can paralyse.

Parting is an important part of change

And so that it doesn’t come to that, it is important to first of all realize that it is precisely with the farewell that one is struggling. That the change is just beginning to get to you and that you are having difficulty recognising the new reality from now on. And then it is important to get involved in the process. It takes time. It is not for nothing that there are the 7 phases of emotional reaction to abrupt changes (after Richard K. Streich) or the 7 phases of farewell. Yes, saying goodbye to loved ones. After a death or even after a separation. Probably everyone goes through this process. But it is also about the farewells on a more objective level: Saying goodbye to a beloved shampoo that is suddenly no longer produced. Saying goodbye to pen and paper when the electronic file is suddenly introduced. Farewell to a job and employer where you have worked for 13 years. Farewell to traditions that cannot be lived this year because of Covid-19. The process is always the same: Lack of understanding, negation, rational acceptance, valley of tears, slowly recovering and finding motivation and adapting to the new situation. Sometimes you don’t even notice it, but the more aware you are of these processes, the easier it is to move on and not get stuck even in the big farewell situations.

But what does Streich actually say to the

7-Phase-Model (1997):

  1. Shock!

“No, this cannot be true! It’s impossible that my job will be cancelled!” Reality does not meet one’s own expectations. This is accompanied by paralysis, a multitude of reactions. Crying, gasping, the desire to tell someone about it immediately… One perceives one’s own competence to deal with the change rather low.

  1. Rejection!

“No, this is not true! I am great and competent and important and I can do the job! Self-confidence increases in this phase. One has the feeling of having been treated unfairly, one does not accept the decision and resists. Arguments, demonstrations, accusations, denials, show-me attitude.

  1. Realisation!

“It’s bad, but maybe I’m not the right person for the job after all.” This is about the rational acceptance of the situation. One finds explanations, facts that prove the step and sees the necessity, the approach. At the same time the uncertainty in one’s own abilities increases again.

  1. Acceptance!

“Well, OK. It’s just time to go now.” Here the emotions follow and you accept the situation. This is accompanied by a certain resignation, a deeper insecurity whether one is competent enough to deal with it, it is also called the valley of tears. It is not for nothing that tears are said to be healing or cleansing and help to let go.

  1. Learning!

“I will learn to live without the job and redesign my life.” This step is as much learning to deal with what the new reality feels like and where you stand as trying and testing what works in the new reality. Here you can let yourself be taken back a little to your own childhood – mastering the great unknown with curiosity.

  1. Understanding!

“It really works! My new life is great and I can do without the routine I knew for 13 years! The competence curve rises sharply and one feels more and more familiar with the new situation. You had your first experiences of success and the comfort zone, which you left so painfully, has already stretched and expanded a little and you recognise the new behaviour as acceptable. Positive future prospects, motivation and self-confidence are strongly felt.

  1. Integration!

“I love my new life and my new routines and behaviours have already become self-evident.” The change is past, one feels arrived in the new reality and has found new ways for oneself that feel good and already part of the extended comfort zone.

In my particular case, with the rationalisation of my job and the lack of alternatives at my employer, the process took almost 11 months. Some phases took longer, others were shorter. In between, there were also intermediate phases – new realities that were not yet the final version, but for which one had to learn new behaviours. In phases 2 and 4 I also got stuck for some time. Here coaching helped me with the great Sabine Hornig. And since October I have been in phase 7 and feel very well.

All 7 phases are important during a change – they need energy and time. The new start can only be successful when you have processed the past for yourself. And it is not for nothing that Ernst Ferstl speaks of

„the Art of letting: Letting go, Letting in and Letting be.” 

What stage are you in? Which phase is the most difficult for you? I am looking forward to your comment or Mail.

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