When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.Lao Tzu

A pupa in it’s chrysalis. In order to become a butterfly, this caterpillar had to let go of what it was, in order to become what it might be. What is hiding within you, ready for you to become?

What does that mean?
I really like this quote. It talks about being stuck in the past. What you are now is based on what has gone before. But if you stay where you are, you will find it difficult to reach your full potential. The quote says when they let go of what they are now, they give themselves the room necessary to grow into the person they could become.

This quote is all about taking risks, and about growth. It also mentions that you have to let go of what you are presently if you are to continue to grow. Like the caterpillar, you have to let go of what you are if you are to become a beautiful butterfly.

When you let go, you allow yourself to accept the changes in life. Sometimes life changes anyway, but to reach your full potential, you have to let go of your old limits, and those things that hold you in this place. They might be old beliefs, they might be old values, and they might be old places. Sometimes, moving to the next level is as much about what you gain as what you leave behind.

Why is embracing change important?  
It’s not always easy to let go and embrace change, but it is necessary. As a child, you have to let go of your parents to go play with your friends. As a youth, you have to let go of your parents to go to school. As a young adult, you have to let go of your family and strike out on your own. In each case, you have to let go and embrace change, if you are to become all that you might be.

If you don’t embrace change, will you be able to, by yourself, stop progress? Unfortunately, the answer is yes, if the subject is your own changes. If you continue in a childish mindset, you can stop progress, but you will never become what you might be as an adult. Unfortunately, it’s such a common phenomenon, it has it’s own name, Arrested Development.

Where can I apply this in my life?
What in your life is ready for a change? What within you, or around you needs to be freshened up a bit? If you want to update the kitchen, you’re going to have to let go of the old layout, appliances, tile, or cabinets. In some cases, you’ll be willing to embrace this without hesitation. Other times, it may be a bit more trying.

Similarly, if you want to move on in your life, you may need to let go of some of what you think you are. I still think of myself as a bit of an introvert, but I’ve been stepping out from behind the label, as it is keeping me from what I might be. I’m not sure what that “might be” might be, but I know the introvert label and my belief in it is holding me back.

What did you come up with? Do you need to let go of the old carpet in order for the house to become what it might be? In most cases, that’s not a very big problem, is it? But what if it was something more personal, a habit you hold as part of your identity?

What if what you had to let go of was (my favorite thing to pick on) smoking? What if nearly all your friends smoke, and when someone asks who you are and what do you do, one of the first words out of your mouth is “I am a smoker”? But what might it be holding you back from becoming, and how difficult might it be to embrace the change?

This particular habit has biological components, social components, and no small amount of personal identity components. Fail to embrace the change at any of these levels, an the change is pretty much doomed, isn’t it? And you may have be able to think of other components with which I am not familiar.

You will have to find the reasons to embrace your change(s). You will have to make sure the reasons are bigger, stronger, and more compelling than the discomfort you will experience in the change. But once you have that figured out, you are already most of the way there. Then it’s just coming up with the steps that move you in that direction, and getting in motion.

Where you presently are is the top of a small mountain. You can see another mountain nearby, a place that you would rather be. However, to get there, you have to let go of your present location, and climb down through the forests, slog through the swamps, and then climb up the other mountain.

If you don’t embrace the change, you’ll probably never make it all the way down your hill, much less up the next one. If you are unwilling to let go of what you have, what you are, or where you are, you will find it very difficult to become what you might be.

It’s not always easy, it’s not always fun, and it is likely to be at least a little bit scary. But I don’t know how else to get from here to there.

From: Twitter, @_inspirational_
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/l/laotzu379182.html
Photo by puuikibeach

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18 Responses to When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.

  1. hlluu 3 December 2012 at 10:52 am #

    Thanks for your explanation. I can understand this quote very clearly now!

  2. Vaniss Nguyen 13 September 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    This is great explaination, thank you so much

    • philosiblog 15 September 2013 at 8:30 am #

      Thank you for the kind words. I’m glad you found this quote to be of some use to you.

  3. George 5 November 2013 at 11:41 am #

    This is really very true .
    99 % of the people in the world have accepted their fate and given up on their ambitions because they were too stuck to try anything unconventional , or maybe too afraid !

    • philosiblog 9 November 2013 at 5:07 am #

      Thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment. Glad you liked the post.

      It still amazes me how so many people are too stuck in one place. That said, there is much I want to do, and much I could be, yet I simply excuse myself, claiming ‘responsibilities’ – how lame is that? 8/

  4. Felix R. 25 January 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    isn’t this also about being yourself? This is how I initially understood the quote. One has to accept the way he/she is in order to be the person one is supposed to be, or to become. But seeing the quote in that way would embrace individualism which goes against Chinese thinking that propagates collectivism…any thoughts on this?

    • philosiblog 26 January 2014 at 8:58 pm #

      I suppose it depends on where you are in your life when you first hear this quote. I was in college, and realized that a lot of what I was doing was because I was following the wishes of others. When I let go of this false image of what I thought I was, I was freed to become the person I could be. That is what the quote meant to me.

      Being an American, I don’t know much about Chinese thinking. But if I may be so bold as to compare it to my example (above), if everything is measured against a standard of behavior and thought, are they not also living someone else’s life? Can they be who they truly were meant to be, who they could become, if they stay confined within that manner of thinking? Until they let go of the limited vision of themselves, how can they become what they could become?

      Not sure if that answered your question exactly, as it seemed kind of broad. Feel free to follow up with a clarification if you wish.

    • Eva 12 October 2015 at 11:34 am #

      that’s the difference between Confucius and Lao tzu, also known as the difference between Ru(儒) and Dao(道). Confucius’s thoughts (Ru) became the main trend because it’s an effective way for the empires to rule, though the idea they are using are not completely only by Confucius. There’s another ancient Dao philosopher call Zhuangzi, he’s pursuing freedom and accepting differences of himself with others. He’s being traveling around the great mountains and rivers and thinking about life and ancient myth. And they wouldn’t care about politics and education (which Confucius cared about). So there are lots of admirable Chinese ancient people are considered to be noble even they were living in the countryside and not being well known, because they have their high level of inner pursuit: a couple of real friends, books, wine, instruments and inner peace is all they need.

      • philosiblog 13 October 2015 at 5:14 am #

        Thanks for stopping by and for leaving such an interesting comment.

        The large number of Chinese philosophers and the tendency of lazy translators to attribute everything to Confucius (I believe him to be the East’s version of Mark Twain) can be frustrating. Thanks for providing some additional historical information and an additional source of wisdom to consider.

        I especially like the ending. A few friends, a lot of books, some wine, some musical instruments and inner peace sounds like a most excellent way to spend time. I try to do some of those each weekend.

  5. Saru Chithiran 30 March 2014 at 7:46 am #

    Inspirational and gives the feel to be dynamic :) Thank U !

    • philosiblog 31 March 2014 at 4:51 am #

      Glad you found the post useful.

      Thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment.

  6. nany 29 October 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    Thank you so much for the explination! i really feel stuck in the past i hope i can move foward because i think time is killing me

    • philosiblog 5 November 2014 at 3:14 am #

      Thanks for stopping by and for leaving such a nice comment. I’m glad the post helped you, and I hope to hear from you again.

  7. Val Annen 26 October 2015 at 1:57 pm #

    I’m heading down the quit smoking mountain once again. I have made numerous attempts since 1972 and actually succeeded a few times so I know that the next mountain offers huge benefits. I know how difficutlt the journey is but that’s not the worst part. I believe that after a certain length of time the energy required to maintain my hard won non-smoking status will dissolve. Something is missing. Willpower alone isn’t the answer.

    I’m wondering if you have a suggestion as to where I can go for help on this matter. I have a low vision problem plus I’m not that techie which makes it tricky searching for sites.

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I cam across your comment and look forward to reading other articles. Thank you.

    • philosiblog 1 November 2015 at 11:18 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by, and for leaving your thoughts in the comment.

      I agree, willpower isn’t a solution in and of itself. There will always be temptation, there will be moments of weakness. But my question is “Then what?” Does one evening with friends and a couple of smokes mean your attempt has been completely defeated? Or is it simply a lost battle in a larger war? This change in mindset alone can help you, if you let it.

      Another thought is to change your fundamental belief. What is smoking to you? Is it a pleasurable pass-time you enjoy with your friends? Or is it a quick path to cancer or emphysema, followed by a premature death? Can you see that how you define the activity can impact your desire to partake in it?

      As an extreme example, is it good for people trying to stop drinking to hang out in bars or around other people who drink too much? You might need to spend some time away from your smoking friends or smoking establishments while you re-establish your habits. Hopefully they understand. If they give you grief for it, what kind of friends are they really?

      Something else to consider is how each of your previous attempts failed. What was the trigger, and how can you either avoid it, or re-direct it? Learn from past experiences, and they are no longer failures, but rungs on the ladder, leading you to success, right?

      Hope that helps you in your quest to quit.

      • Val Annen 2 November 2015 at 3:00 am #

        Thank your ever so much for the kindness of your reply. I especially appreciate the rungs on the ladder picture but all your words give me much food for thought – and hope.

      • philosiblog 2 November 2015 at 4:11 pm #

        Glad I was able to provide you some alternate ways of approaching things. And remember to stay strong.

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