Letting go

Letting go

Letting go

Inspired by the seasons and the beauty of the trees, I set out to write an article about letting go. I had a few (some may say too many!) things in mind:


Letting go of beliefs which no longer serve you e.g. ‘I’m not experienced enough to apply for that role’ or (something I’m working on), ‘the learning needs to feel difficult for it to be valuable’;
Letting go of too-long held, damaging feelings e.g. resentment, anger, disappointment
Letting go of relationships which have lost their satisfaction and have become one-sided perhaps or toxic
Letting go of old habits which feel like self-sabotage – insert your own here!
Letting go of commitments you made in the past which now require too much of you. These might be related to work, or volunteering or ‘duty’ for example.

 

But then I got stuck. The trees’ letting go seems effortless and sublime, perhaps because it happens with such regularity and certainty each year; we know the spring comes next. Yet for us humans, letting go of any of the things listed above, particularly the big things (relationships, beliefs…) comes with a foreboding sense of risk and fear. It can seem easier to hold-on to those things which deep down we know to be holding us back because those things have become familiar and as such, comfortable. Better the devil you know.

Letting go, it seems, is another of those things which is easier said than done. It can trigger a sense of grief and loss (..of familiarity, of surety), even when we make an active choice to let go of things we acknowledge as painful or inhibiting. Like a grieving process, we may experience pain and anger, denial, low mood, resistance and even re-adoption of the thing of which you chose to let go.

 

Drawing on the wisdom held in Kubler-Ross’s bereavement curve can be a useful way to understand the emotions which accompany this ‘letting go’, particularly when movement through that curve is slow or erratic.

But why would we even bother to ‘let go’ when there is potentially a prohibitive price to pay?
Well, the gains from loosening our grip on those things which no longer serve us are potentially greater. Improved mood, confidence, wellbeing, emotional headspace (to enable recovery and growth) are the colours and the beautiful by-products of our human letting go. They enable in us growth, self-care and acceptance, a state of being and of peace.

So in the end, I decided to make this article a practical one and offer some small ideas to try to help us replicate the beauty and the ease of the trees at this time of year: 

 

 

    1. Take a moment to reflect on all of the things in your life you have already let go of. There will be many and a good place to start might be as long ago and as simple as no longer sleeping with a teddy bear.
    2. Practice acceptance every day. Begin with the small things like traffic jams, the weather, being on hold to the bank for too long, before you tackle the bigger stuff.
    3. Notice when you pick an old burden back up and ask yourself – do I really want this to take up space in my head? Make a choice about what to do next when you have an answer.
    4. Practice self-compassion and make your inner self-talk as kind as the words you would offer to a good friend.

 

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