PC #130 – Letting go the rope…

Jennifer and I have a saying… we talk about “letting go the rope.”

This concept came to Jennifer in one moment of insight while she was driving – it was a very clear vision, of her in a playground with a see-saw, and a couple playing a game of tug-of-war.

Immediately it struck her that the game of tug-of-war was like what she was going through at the time, with some issues that had been troubling her.

This is the concept: you’re at one end of the rope. There’s something at the other end of the rope – it can be a person, a circumstance, an addiction, an event, an ongoing issue in your life. It can be anything that’s creating disharmony. Something, or someone you’re struggling with. That’s wanting to pull you in a particular direction.

It could be one of your children, a work colleague, a neighbour, your partner – or it could be an illness, a financial concern, an unpleasant decision that has to be made… whatever it is, it’s a struggle in your life. It’s a tug-of-war with whatever it is you’re struggling with.

What struck Jennifer at that moment, when she had the vision of the playground, is that if you’re pulling and pulling and pulling, and the other side is pulling and pulling and pulling, and it’s a huge struggle, creating all sorts of discord and disharmony, and then suddenly you decide that you’re not going to play this game anymore, and you let go your end of the rope, then the other side falls in a heap.

You walk away and the struggle is over.

But, the other end of the rope – whatever that is – will be angry, Furious. It will want you to play again. It will do all in its power to make you want to continue the game – the struggle.

You might have got used to this game. You might have, on some level, actually enjoyed the struggle. Enjoyed the energy that it infused within you. Same with the other side – they too might have so enjoyed the game. They will entice you to play again.

So you have to be very determined not to pick up that rope again. But sometimes you do, and then you have to be very disciplined to let it go again. Walk away.

Sometimes it’s handy to have a simple way of looking at complex emotions or issues. Using this tug-of-war concept makes It really simple – you can let go. From an energetic point of view, you’re releasing that energy from your life.

What you’re saying to yourself is I’m not going to engage in the way I’ve always engaged – I’m going to let you “win” this. But in fact although it appears you’re letting the other side win, you’re not. There’s no winning and no losing, you’re just put putting an end to a game you no longer wish to play.

I mention this because two things have come up that have made me think about it – one is a struggle a dear friend of mine is having with his son. His son is exceedingly bright, and has an opportunity to go to Med School. But the young lad wants to live a little – do some traveling, and take at least a year off.

My friend has had some big blues with him, telling him that if he takes a year off, the offer to go to Med School may not be there when he returns. He’s switching courses – and so it is at this stage a one-off offer.

The more my friend tries to argue with his son, the more his son backs away, and affirms his desire to take a year off.

I told my friend to let go the rope, and see what happens. It could be that his son is enjoying the game, of exerting power over his father. But if that power is taken away from him, and he’s left having to make a major life decision on his own, what will he do?

The second example is something which I believe shows clearly how this can work.

I follow a blog by a well known independent film producer, Ted Hope. In a recent guest post, a filmmaker detailed the struggle he’d been going through to get a film up.

He’d made two critically acclaimed films which had made no money. He’d done the rounds of Hollywood, and everyone had blown smoke up his butt like they do in Hollywood, but no-one would give him a job. He spent many years getting more and more frustrated and angry.

And then one day he just “snapped,” in his words, and he packed up and left Hollywood. He drove up the coast to San Francisco, vowing he would give up making films and try and find a regular job.

He found a shared apartment, and was introduced to various people who had nothing to do with the film industry. “Real” people. And he began to see clearly what was happening in the world outside the insular bubble of Hollywood.

He started to realise that there was a growing gap in the US economy that was having a major impact on the middle class, and so he decided to make a documentary about it. But who wants to see a documentary about the American middle class struggling in a flat economy? And who would finance such a film?

Cut to: the filmmaker has made his film, and it’s getting a major theatrical release around the country. To get a theatrical release for a film at the moment is really difficult – to get a theatrical release for a documentary is unheard of. The guy has smashed it out of the park.

What happened? He let go the rope. As soon as he said I don’t want to play this game anymore, things started happening for him.

If you’re interested, here are links to his story. For me though, it’s a classic instance of letting go the rope, walking away from the struggle, and winning.




16 thoughts on “PC #130 – Letting go the rope…

  1. Love this analogy, Bill and Jennifer. I can see this working in so many situations beyond the two you have referenced. I agree with Sister that I need a bit of time to fully digest this blog. Better yet, maybe giving it a whirl. Julie


  2. I temd not to let go the rope because I can be a bit stubborn at times, one of the flaws that spoils my perfection, but on rare occasions I have let go the rope but have heard the words “chickenshit” and “loser” muttered, that tends to make me pick it up again. I must try this approach, let go the rope and walk away.


    • Its the walking away that’s hard. I can get myself into weird attitudes, thinking, “I can’t let go and walk away! They need me!” Its a case of falsely believing I’m indespensable – which gets tied up in my need to be needed.If I walk away and everything is fine, what does that say about the worth of my contribution? There are so many ways I can get tangled up in this part- all those behaviours I’ve accepted that count for nothing in the big picture because they are solely about me. I need to focus on walking away, and staying away, leaving it alone to develop into something healthier.I’ll start by walking away from my insecurities!!


        • Well of course I do! If we’re talking about ego as self as opposed to ego which is ephemeral vanity. My whole life as a nun is about giving the totality of “self” to the service of God, so everything I do is involved with and measured by the depth with which I do that.The vanity ego is solved with a quick look at reality. But you’re right in that I need to relinquish my ownership or sense of control over my “self ” and leave all of it up to God. The times that I have been able to.do that have been so liberating, and the closest thing to joy I’ve ever felt. I’m hoping its a case of practice makes perfect, because relinquishing self is my daily mountain to climb.


    • Hi Pat –

      As I said in the post, the other side gets angry when you let go your side of the rope. They will do all sorts of things to make you play the game again.

      Calling you names is just one of those things, and it seems like on some occasions it’s worked!



  3. Bill, this posting couldn’t have come at a better time. Thank you. My Camino lessons have started. I will ponder the many times I should have let go the rope as I walk today. Rabanal to El Acebo. Cruz de Ferro should be a good place to start this thinking!!
    Anne 🐌


  4. Bill,

    I have thought about this post a lot today. I think of he tug of war analogy right along with drama. At least for me it is. I choose to lead a drama free life, therefore, it is very rare for me to get into any type of tug of wars involving others as I finally learned that it was an exercise in futility. Now, that is not to say that I don’t have internal tugs of war, but it does no good to let go of the rope because I am holding both ends.

    Here is another possibility by example. Jill and I could easily be in a tug of war as we contemplate what to do with our marriage. But, to both of our credits, we have both put down the rope without either of us falling in a heap, and we have decided to contemplate our future jointly, and in complete harmony. So far so good, and while it is not totally painless, it is a lot more so than if we were playing tug of war or projecting drama into the discussions



    • HI Steve –

      firstly, it’s wonderful to hear about you and Jill not in a tug-of-war struggle. You two then can work things out in a harmonious and mature way.

      You both will know what’s best for each of you. Your PGS will guide you to the right decision.

      As for your holding both ends of the rope – think of it this way: the other end of the rope doesn’t need to be outside of yourself.

      For instance, a person getting on in years might be struggling with the concept of ageing. By worrying about ageing, they age. They lose sleep, they’re constantly frowning, or holding tension in their faces and bodies, and so they get wrinkles, their hair turns grey, they become stiff in their muscles etc.

      When they THINK they’re old they ACT old.

      I see this all the time in some of my friends, who are ageing.

      I have a friend who is quite convinced he is “past it,” and acts accordingly. He’s constantly talking about “senior moments” – that is, losing his memory, or how difficult it is getting out of chairs, or how sick he is and how he now needs medication. By concentrating on these things, he’s activating them in his life. By thinking he’s old, he’s acting old, and so he’s validating his thoughts by his actions. And so he LOOKS old, and he’s constantly ill.

      If you think young, you’ll act young. You’ll find that you’re more sprightly, you’ll remember things, you’ll feel young because you’re THINKING you’re young. You’ve let go the rope of ageing. You’re not playing that game anymore.

      I don’t know what your personal issues might be – if you have any that is – but all I’m saying is that the tug-of-war struggle isn’t necessarily with people or circumstances outside of you.

      The biggest struggles – the hardest tug-of-war games – are in your own mind.



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