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Short Cuts

Let go... Really?

Everybody says to “let go.” Thanks, but no thanks. F10’s Editor-in-chief Natascha Zeljko is miffed and strikes back in her new column “Short Cuts”

Every time has its mantra. Beside the ever-present self awareness, that of ours seems to be: “Let go.”

I hear it all the time. I hear it as it is recommended to others with a slightly worried undertone. I hear it as it is recommended to me with a heavily worried undertone. And it is also one of the reasons I have been avoiding yoga studios for quite some time. So much is let go and mankind is so loved that one gets dizzy. And then after the lesson, the same yoga teacher flips out so venomously on someone on the phone that the word “respect” decides to immediately go on hunger strike.

Let go? You won’t finish your master’s thesis, you won’t build the house, you won’t start a company

Yes, we all work a lot, maybe too much. We all want a lot, maybe too much at once. But this well-meaning phrase unfortunately has a problem: it’s a reflex, it’s unspecific, and superficial, like the empty “How are you?”. There are, of course, very good reasons and the right time to let go. But, when exactly is it? Like everything in life, it’s a matter of timing. If you let go too early, you won’t finish your master’s thesis, you won’t build the house, you won’t start a company. And more drastically: should you really tell the captain of Sea-Watch 3 to let go and relax? Or the doctor fighting for a patient’s life?

Which, of course, is a double-edged sword: if you never let go, you ruin yourself, your health, and possibly your friendships and partnership. If you never let go, you will be stubborn and uptight – not a person you would like to spend time with.

The topic has been bothering me for quite some time, just like the related question of how many breaks one needs. When does ambition begin to become pathological or unhealthy? What’s the tipping point of work becoming counterproductive because you start making mistakes and developing tunnel vision? Only a well-developed feeling for oneself, a kind of precise tuning to one’s inner frequency, can help.

It sends itself out like mass mail and ends up in the inner junk mail folder

It’s complex. And that’s why precision is needed here and not curt, unsolicited advice. Otherwise it sends itself out like mass mail and ends up in the inner junk mail folder. Letting go properly is an art, yes – I would even say it is an art of living.

And then the other day there was a situation in which I was really stuck. I was spinning my wheels and couldn’t come up with any possible solution. During a long conversation with a very savvy person, I heard the words, “Let go.” It was exactly what I needed at that moment. Letting go can be the best thing you can do.  

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