wholehearted living and letting goHow Letting Go Helps You Embrace Wholehearted Living


The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let the dead things go.

- Anonymous


Last week we began to explore Brene Brown’s 10 Guideposts to Wholehearted Living with an article focused on the things we need to cultivate to live this way. Today we will focus on things we must let go of to live wholeheartedly.

While releasing these things may feel scary, holding on to them will weigh us down and keep us from living life to the fullest. Take a look at the list and consider if you would benefit from letting some of these things go. It's the perfect time of year to release the things that are holding you back.


What Others Think

Brene Brown recognizes that something is lost when we worry too much about what other people think of us. She encourages us to question, “What’s the greater risk? Letting go of what people think or letting go of how I feel, what I believe, and who I am?” She encourages us to consider whose opinion really matters to us and to write those names on a one inch by one inch piece of paper. The only names that belong on that list “are the people who love you and care about you, not despite your imperfection or vulnerability, but because of it.” 




According to Brown, “perfectionism is self-destructive simply because there is no such thing as perfect. Perfection is an unattainable goal. Additionally, perfectionism is more about perception - we want to be perceived as perfect. Again, this is unattainable - there is no way to control perception, regardless of how much time and energy we spend trying.” 


Numbing & Powerlessness

Often we numb ourselves emotionally in an attempt to prevent pain. However, Brown’s research has shown that “we cannot selectively numb emotions; when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.” Those who are living wholeheartedly have a range of healthy emotion - joyful, fearful, secure, angry, content, lonely, etc.


Scarcity & Fear of the Dark

Everyday we are faced with the idea of scarcity. We wake up feeling as if we didn’t get enough sleep, and we almost never feel like we have enough time, money, or energy. For Brown, “the opposite of scarcity is not abundance. It’s enough. I’m enough. My kids are enough.” Embracing 'enough' will bring contentment and fullness to your life.


The Need for Certainty

There is very little in life that we can be certain about. “Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty.” Accepting this reality is crucial for those wanting to live a wholehearted life.



Brown would agree with Theodore Roosevelt's statement that "comparison is the thief of joy." She recognizes the fact that we often compare “our lives, our marriages, our families, and our communities to unattainable, media-driven visions of perfection, or we’re holding up our reality against our own fictional account of how great someone else has it. Nostalgia is also a dangerous form of comparison. Think about how often we compare our lives to a memory that nostalgia has so completely edited that it never really existed.”


Exhaustion as a Status Symbol & Productivity as Self Worth

In our fast paced society it is easy to get caught up in achieving, but it can make us lose sight of what is really important. According to Brown, “‘crazy-busy’ is a great armor, it’s a great way for numbing. What a lot of us do is that we stay so busy, and so out in front of our life, that the truth of how we’re feeling and what we really need can’t catch up with us.” It is a great loss to become disconnected from ourselves in this way.


Anxiety as a Lifestyle

We can not live wholeheartedly while in a constant state of anxiety. We must slow down and clear some space in our minds. Brown encourages us to take a step back from a situation “creating perspective and mindfulness, while managing (our) emotional reactivity.”  She values “opening up an emotionally chatter-free space allowing ourselves to feel and think and dream and question.” In essence she encourages us to make time for ourselves in the midst of the busyness.


Self Doubt & Supposed-To

According to Brown, “when we spend a lifetime trying to distance ourselves from the parts of our lives that don’t fit with who we think we’re supposed to be, we stand outside of our story and hustle for our worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving. Our sense of worthiness - that critically important piece that gives us access to love and belonging - lives inside of our story.” 


Cool & Always in Control

In addition to being exhausting, always being in control prevents us from living with our whole heart. As Brown says, “When we value being cool and ‘in control’ over granting ourselves the freedom to unleash the passionate, goofy, heartfelt, and soulfelt expressions of who we are, we betray ourselves.”

10 Guideposts of Wholehearted Living













As you watch the leaves change colors and eventually fall to the earth, consider what you might benefit from releasing. I’d love to hear how you are growing and embracing wholehearted living!

Dr. Jamie