“Holding on is believing that there’s a past; letting go is knowing that there’s a future”. – Daphne Rose Kingma
As we wave goodbye to another year, many people are already focusing their sights on the new one ahead. Some think about the things they want to accomplish or the goals they’d like to meet and are hopeful that something good is on its way. New Years has become all about saying hello to the incoming year, but few of us take time to reflect on all of the life events, good and bad, that happened in the departing 365 days before saying a formal goodbye.
2016 was a year that I saw many people pass and many relationships crumble. I also saw a lot of people come to realizations about themselves or others that forced them to decide what, or whom, they wanted in their lives. Others still, decided they needed a change of scenery and either redecorated or moved altogether.
Regardless of the circumstance, they all required letting go of something, be it a physical object, a relationship or a belief. But how we let go is critical and can determine the speed at which we move forward in life. Saying we’ve released but still having feeling of uncertainty, anger, jealousy, victimhood or a plethora of other negative attachments is like throwing a boomerang that always comes back.
Releasing something/someone long held is not an easy thing to do, even if we know it is keeping us stuck. Before we are able to give up something we must take a good long look at how that something, or someone, came to be in our lives in the first place. This is vital information that helps to separate what we have brought to our lives from the physical or emotional packages given to us by others. And with each inquiry we must ask if the thoughts that entangle us are truth or belief. Beliefs are usually put there externally by others and confused with truth. Truth comes pre-installed from the factory, and we know when we’ve hit on it because the body says a silent yes, and it feels sure and simple. It doesn’t give you a headache or a stomach-ache like avoiding or ignoring our truth does.
Big steps…, but we’re not there yet.
One reason many of us don’t let go is because we are afraid, or maybe just too lazy, to face the emotions that must be looked at, dealt with, and maybe even felt again. I recently helped a woman who kept saying her late husband was the love of her life and that she kept him up on a pedestal. Yet, everything in her life was a mess; her son was having issues, she was dating a dud of a guy and even though she said she was ready to move forward she remained very much stuck. When I asked her more about her husband she revealed that he had killed himself leaving her alone with their small child. As we talked through things she realized that she put her late husband up on a pedestal because it was easier to tell herself a lie than face the rage and betrayal she felt as a result of his actions. Once she understood, she knew she would have to express those emotions before truly saying goodbye to all the storytelling and fake romanticizing and tap dancing around the truth that she’d done for so long.
We often tell ourselves that letting go is hard to do and may question if it is the right time to do so. But if we stop and listen to our inner selves we’d find that we always know when it’s time to let go of something. Many of us hang on too long because the mind overrides the inner self and starts to pump out signals of fear and irrational reasoning. Some of us have so much dirt under our nails from desperately hanging on because they are numbingly afraid of the unknown. So, they back away from the edge of change and crank up the loop of excuses that say “things aren’t so bad”, “that a bad job is better than no job” or “I will fit into them again some day”. Guilt, wishful thinking or fears are actually the reasons we should say goodbye. And doing so with love and gratitude is the most beautiful way.
Quite frankly, the only option we have to leading a healthy life is to constantly be letting go so that something new can come in.
When we trust that all will be okay in the absence of what we know, then we take a leap of faith and release from the edge. Suddenly our fears of letting go fall by the wayside and the spell is broken. Our excuses have no more power over us and we feel a sense of lightness and peace that enters our bodies. That is the feeling of alignment with self, of love.
Releasing in love is the only way to truly let go. Releasing in love means we have decided not to give power to those attachments anymore and we don’t have the burden of carrying those heavy packs around anymore.
Gratitude is the part that leaves most people scratching their heads when I suggest it. By that I mean that there is a lesson to be learned in everything, even in what we have perceived as negative or toxic. If we can be honest with ourselves and drop all of the emotional attachments we have, we’ll see the ways we deceived ourselves, tried to please others or overlaid our beliefs onto every storyline in our lives. Having that information revealed to us usually only comes from the pain of release- but it’s the silver lining, the prize for running the race and doing the hard work of letting go. Ironically, letting go of a piece of something usually brings the whole into hyper focus. For that we must be grateful.
If we choose to stay stuck (and yes, it is a choice) in the loop of living in our haydays, in regret for what didn’t happen or hoping for what will never be, we have chosen to keep ourselves in a cycle of longing and regret – and happiness and inner peace never visits those neighborhoods. If, instead of looking backwards, we turn and look forward we will see that the new road truly does appear. It goes in the direction that authentically suits us and we wind up somewhere better than we ever thought possible. That’s what happens when we let go.
So while this year is still new, take some time to see what, or whom, you’ll be carrying over from the old year and what you are finally ready to release in love and gratitude in this new one.
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