Letting go to make room for greatness or simply just quiet

By Lori Gabriel Gunther, MS, CPXP

On a recent debrief call I asked a group of nurse leaders what they were grateful for and what they wanted to let go of. We normally end our call with gratitude and hope, so the nurses were prepared for this discussion. However, the idea of verbalizing what they wanted to let go of was much harder. On these calls you can’t process or overthink anything because the nurse leaders come to these calls to be open and vulnerable, so everyone answers the questions posed.

When talking about burnout or resilience, within the walls of hospitals, with the people who work there, you will often get an eye roll.  The hospital staff are tired of being told to go walk, or breathe, or to take a day off. When asked, “what really weighs you down?” nurse leaders give answers like, too many staff, not enough support, no respect for what it feels like to give huge incentives for new hires and retention without being compensated themselves, 24/7 accountability, etc.; the list goes on and on.  Nurse leaders have been pushed beyond the point of no return in so many areas. There are so many requests for nurse leaders to do more with less. All the while no one is asking them how they will change their lives to be able to take a break or do simple self-care acts.

Footprints in the sand on the beach

What to “let go” of

For me, the act of letting go could apply to many different areas of our lives. It could apply to letting go of positive things in our life, which we would then grieve as a loss. Or let go of negative things, which may cause us to feel relief and as though a burden has been lifted. 

It could be the letting go of a relationship that is no longer satisfying and may even be toxic; a routine that no longer serves you well; or a job that is no longer a passion and is creating additional stress. 

It could be letting go of a dream you once had for your future and then having to accept and grieve what is now a loss. It could be getting rid of an old way of thinking about yourself or your world and adapting to a new way of thinking.

It could be letting go of the high expectations we set for ourselves and never quite achieve, replacing them instead with different and attainable goals.

Letting go to make room

We may let go of something/someone/an idea (and even be excited about it) to make a change because we want or feel deserving of more. It can also be as simple as looking at a project and saying that it no longer needs to be a focus.  

I recently told a colleague that I make at least one big business mistake a year and I had to learn to let go of an idea that I loved to make room for the work that needed to take priority.  It used to seem like a failure to make that big mistake, now it just seems like a part of the job – by letting go of a project or an idea that just doesn’t fit or takes too much time.  

Letting go can be scary. It’s a big unknown, with lots of uncertainty. It means leaving behind what is usual and comfortable — even if “the norm” and being comfortable isn’t in our best interest — and branching out to what might feel odd at first. Sometimes it feels easier to stay put and not take the chance.

Letting go can make room for something great to happen. Choosing yourself means you can have some control over who and what you pick to spend your time on.  This also means that you can have a life with purpose, meaning, and direction based on your own beliefs and convictions, where you make use of your personal talents and potential, manage your life situations well, have positive relationships, and accept yourself.

We often take on more without weeding out what in our lives doesn’t work.  You may feel an overwhelming sense of guilt, because letting go of something or someone that has meaning in our world takes work and determination. It is exhausting until it is done.  You may find that once you commit to letting go of that job, that relationship, that employee, or that project you may find relief and time to do that self-care that we all talk about doing.  You may find a renewed sense of purpose and a new why in your world. 

So, if you are ending your day today reading this blog; what are you letting go of and what dream or hope does that action inspire in you?

Woman with outstretched arms in front of mountain

Call to action

Take a moment to think about what you can let go of and what dream or hope that action inspires in you.

Please join us for the 2023 NICU Leadership Forum

Attend the 2023 NICU Leadership Forum March 19-23, 2023 in Tucson, AZ to connect with other nurse leaders and “let go” together.