Today's topic is ROUGH. I'm just telling you, it kinda is. It's about the sometimes soul-wrenching act of letting go of the past, letting go of control, letting go of what you think other people should be choosing or doing, letting go of what's holding you back from progress.
Holding on to something that isn't meant for you makes you miserable.
Letting go, gives you FREEDOM and the POWER to move forward.
Letting go is a huge part of self-care because sometimes you don't even realize the weight you are carrying around. Becoming present and accepting what is is the greatest self-care habit you can develop, but can also be the hardest. As human beings, we want to be loved. We want to be right. We want to know the answers. We want to be successful. Letting go requires us to let go of control and accept the fact that we DON'T have control over those things.
We do, however, have control over how much we love others, how much knowledge we gain in this life, how often we share that knowledge with others through service, and how happily we live our lives. Buddha said,
"In the end, only 3 things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you."
There are two parts of letting go and they are so connected you cannot do one without the other. Letting go emotionally and letting go physically. We are physical beings. Our brains like to be able to connect the dots and know the answers and because of this, we are meaning-making machines. We link our emotional experiences with physical spaces and material things. This can be a major hurdle when it comes to letting things go.
5 years ago I was going through a particularly rough time in my life. I felt so completely lost in so many areas. I wasn't feeling fulfilled with my degree choice, had no motivation to apply myself in school, was stuck in a cycle of revolving relationships that never seemed to go anywhere, and was frustrated beyond belief.
That's the middle of the story... back up 2 years.
2 years prior, I had gotten divorced. I married my high school boyfriend a year after we graduated from high school and although we had at one time loved each other and been completely happy, our lack of self-knowledge and immaturity led to an unhappy and unsuccessful marriage and after 18 months decided to part ways. At that time I moved all of our material possessions into a storage unit, thinking one day I would have my own space again and would want all that "stuff".
I say "stuff" because that's exactly what it was.
Furniture and holiday decorations and kitchen appliances and DVDs. So many nonessential items that I clearly didn't need since they went into a giant storage unit that I paid $89.99 a month to rent. (Oh, the money I wasted!)
2 years later, I moved into an unfurnished home and finally moved all that "stuff" out of storage and into the house. And sh** started to hit the fan. The anxiety attacks I had suffered from while I was married returned, I couldn't get along with my roommates, and everything seemed to remind me of my ex-husband. The new relationship I was desperately trying to make work wouldn't progress the way I wanted it to and I was a hot mess 99% of the time.
I did not understand why I could not "move the freak on", as a good friend, who COMPLETELY understood my feelings would say as we laughed through the tears.
I decided to begin therapy, something I had dreaded doing since the time of my divorce, but now knew was necessary. It was during this time that I learned the importance of mastering the skill of letting go.
This period of confronting myself, my past, and my emotions was a LIFE-CHANGING period for me. I dug through my past, opening up the wounds and cleaning them out. I rewrote my life story, accepting the bad, and remembering the good, realizing I couldn't just sweep 2 years of my life under the rug and pretend it had never happened. I did the work of forgiving my ex-husband as well as myself for the drama we had caused one another.
After I had come to terms with everything inside, I did two things to complete the process of letting go emotionally and physically.
Physically: I got rid of all that "stuff." I sold the furniture. I had a big yard sale and sold everything that I had owned while I was married, everything from the TV to the home decor to the kitchen spatulas. I sold my wedding ring back to the jeweler we'd bought it from. I looked through our wedding album one last time and then threw it in a big huge dumpster.
Emotionally: I wrote him a letter, expressing all the unspoken hurt and anger I had kept bottled up inside. I expressed to him all the dreams I felt I'd lost because I'd lost him. And then I told him that I forgave him and that I was allowing myself to move on. I folded that letter up, put it in an envelope, and got on my bike. That letter is buried somewhere at the top of a canyon I love to bike. After I buried the letter, I took a couple moments to connect to myself, to visualize a bright and happy future, and to pray to express gratitude for all I'd been given, all I'd learned from that experience, and all I hoped to have in the future.
And then I SOARED down the mountain.
I cannot tell you the lightness and joy I felt. I remember letting out whoops and shouts as I went screaming down with my wheels turning 50 miles an hour. I felt on top of the world.
I was different.
Were the memories of the past erased from my mind? No. Did the perfect relationship for me magically appear? No.
BUT, I FELT different.
The pain I had been carrying around was gone. This experience no longer defined me. I was able to finally own my story and not feel afraid that people wouldn't understand me because of it. I didn't have to hide it from people anymore because I wasn't hiding it from myself.
I was the happiest I had ever been in my entire life.
I finished my degree and graduated. I moved to Washington DC and began living my life-long dream of road tripping the United States. I attracted a new relationship that brought even further learning and healing.
"Once you have dealt properly with the current phase of your life, the next will come to you naturally." - Marie Kondo
Now, life goes on and new challenges arise. My heart has been hurt since then and I have had to rework this same process of coming to terms with things I cannot control, accepting what is, letting go, and moving forward.
And I am grateful for the process every time because through it I grow closer and closer to who I am meant to be.
Everything we experience in life is for our good. I sincerely believe that we signed up for the life we are living, that we agreed to it somewhere, and that here we are living the life that will teach us the lessons we wanted to learn. And letting go is a major scene for all of us.
So, I encourage you to practice the life-changing habit of letting go.
- Journal out the past that seems to still be haunting you.
- Dig to figure out what emotions are locked inside of you and pay attention to what part of your body you feel the pain the most in.
- Physically let it out. Move your body. Hit a pillow. Scream inside your car. Sprint up the mountain.
- Get rid of "stuff." If it reminds you of past hurt, something you lost, or just plain doesn't bring you joy, get rid of it. I promise you can do without.
- Express gratitude and love for the experience, visualize the bright future and move on.
And then do something for yourself. Start the next dream. The next project. The next hobby.