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How to Let Go and Realize Your Potential

To become the brightest version of yourself, first you must let go of the fixed ideas that mar your perspective and tether you to the past.

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On New Year’s Eve last year, I crashed a party and bumped into a handsome friend I used to know. We stood shoulder to shoulder on a balcony catching up and watching the skyline unfurl before us. The Empire State Building was dressed up in her New Year’s Eve best, the lights atop her crown flickered and changed for our enjoyment. We both stood silently in awe of New York City.

“Any resolutions for the new year?” I asked after a while. He paused, trying to reach beyond a generic answer.

“To be great,” he said quietly.

He looked me in the eye and nodded firmly.

“This is the year I stop blocking my own greatness. This is the year I’ll be great.”

I nodded. Standing at the edge of 2014, I could understand his proclamation. I, too, want to be great. I too want to stop blocking my own potential, but as I searched for the appropriate response, I was at a loss for words. I already saw him as he was: a successful entrepreneur with a bestselling book and a huge heart. I saw someone who was touching people on a regular basis. I already knew, from a place beyond reason, that he unequivocally was great. His perception was the main impediment to his greatness.

We are standing at the mouth of another year. We, the lucky ones, have survived. We’ve congregated. We‘ve meditated. We’ve celebrated. We’ve resolved. We, the lucky ones, keep breathing. Some of us cry. Some of us throw confetti; others of us dance the night away. Each of us, in our own way, prepares for the unknown, hugging ourselves tight, often grateful that we’ve managed to survive. How do we want the future to nourish us? What do we want to accomplish? How do we move forward? How can we attain what we desire?

The hardest part of moving forward is letting go.

To move forward, we must let go of our attachment to fixed ideas. This may seem like a bold proclamation. Decisions do, after all, require careful planning. There are logistics to consider, and our emotions may run high. Our internal dialogue may discourage our decisions, feeding us a steady diet of self-doubt. But the truth, the one that whispers from the shadows, is that the hardest part of moving forward is letting go. The only worthy action is letting go. Beyond deep breaths and meditative practices, what does it mean to let go? We can talk endlessly about what release might look like. We can discuss the things that we’ve lost. We can talk endlessly about reconciling with the past or resolving our old wounds. These things are valid, and often therapeutic, but there’s a deeper shift.

There comes a moment when you’re standing alone with your own ideas. You want to move forward, and all of your excuses have dissolved. You realize that most of the obstacles in your way have been handcrafted by your own design. In this moment, you can own your power to choose a different route. You can step into a new way of being in this moment. You can let go of the person who was victimized by circumstance, when all the narratives have been exhausted and all the fingers have been pointed we stand in our bodies, rooted and responsible for ourselves.

Related: How to Recognize the Beauty of Being Broken

The hardest part of moving forward is letting go.

It’s time to let go of fixed ideas about who you are. It’s not because it’s a new year, or because we’re getting older. It’s time because you’ve already arrived. It’s time to knock down barriers around your acceptable behavior. It’s time to rediscover what is possible for each of us. We can achieve the impossible. We can do the thing that we believe we can’t. We can let ourselves move into new definitions of who we are. You are already as “great” as you are striving to be. You must only adjust your perception.

It’s time to break up with old ideas we have about ourselves.

The hardest part of moving away from the place you’ve always known is breaking up with the person who thinks she can’t thrive anywhere else. The hardest part of being the life of the party is breaking up with the wallflower you’ve always been. You CAN lose the weight, or leave the job. You can fall in love, or finally take care of yourself. You can start the business or get the promotion, but you have to let go with who you believe you are. You have to commune with the limitlessness of who you are.

Now is the moment to embrace all the parts of yourself that you’ve not yet allowed yourself to be. You’re allowed to become someone new. You can be the brightest expression of yourself.

Just let go.

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Sometimes it’s difficult to cultivate lucidity during troubling times. Patanjali Yoga Sūtras offers 4 practices to help keep the mind steady: 
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These four practices are also praised in various Buddhist suttas.
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