Or Here We Go Again
A topic I revisit from time-to-time; mostly as a reminder to myself; also to evaluate my progress. Letting go is something most of us struggle with. There is nothing like a Pandemic to help put things in perspective.
Letting Go of What?
- someone you care about
- someone you lost
- a pet who has passed
- a job you lost or need to leave
- a competition you didn’t win
- your ego
- the familiar
- bad habits
- a grudge
- a notion
- concerns about money
Hence, the list should illuminate the many reasons we struggle with letting go. I would argue that if you work hard enough to let go of just one thing that has caused you pain and/or anxiety, the next thing you tackle will hopefully be a little easier to address. Of course there are exceptions to just about everything.
When It Hurts So Much
Why we hold onto to something even when it causes you pain and suffering is a great mystery. Whether it’s a job, a relationship, or a place. We are sometimes unaware of the aforementioned pain and at other times we just ignore it; ignoring it is easier than confronting it.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have some fairly good therapists over the years. Just as effective is a friend who listens well. Those long walks where you tell a confidant what’s on your mind, can help you to choose a healthier path. When I was deciding whether or not to leave my position in New York, I spoke to total strangers. In the end, their objective thoughts helped me to make the right decision. In truth, I knew what I had to to, but hearing it from others is affirming.
- It might be easier to stick with the familiar, rather than move on to the unknown.
- Fear of loss, fear of loneliness, fear of abandonment, and fear in general.
- Low self-esteem is often the culprit; love thy self. Remember you may take two steps back and need to reboot.
- We sometimes doubt our own judgment: Am I being too harsh? Maybe I should be more forgiving? Perhaps if I ignore it, it will go away. I think you know by now, that it never just disappears.
How it Feels to Let Go
Replacing whatever it was that you no fret over with something positive and fun, can be extremely healthy. I have a friend who recently gave up smoking. She decided that if she didn’t do something physical, she’d gain a lot of weight. She started running to prevent that from happening and she discovered a pastime that she now loves; replacing an unhealthy addiction with a healthy one.
I have noticed that I am laughing and smiling more of late. I think that is a byproduct of letting go. The lighter you are, the less burdened by toxic people in your life or behaviours that cause you unease, the more your body will express relief — it too will breathe, you will breathe.
Time is one of those tricky aspects of letting go. We all want the pain to go away instantly — like magic — poof, wish it away. But it takes some time for that to happen and we must be patient. I have a friend who has been in AA for over 25 years. He has remained clean and sober and he is happy and healthy. We speak often; his pearls of wisdom are always appreciated. The principles of AA can be applied to any addiction, so I listen and often apply them to my own healing. My friend reminds me to allow myself to feel whatever it is I am feeling. If I am sad, it’s okay to feel the sadness, if I am angry, I need to allow myself to be angry, and if I am relieved, I need to feel that relief. Pushing thoughts and emotions away is not helpful. Instead of processing your feelings, your denial of the existence of these emotions, only delays the moving on process. These emotions don’t just disappear, they find a place inside your body to fester and then they manifest themselves in ways that are harmful and dangerous. Perhaps in the middle of the night when you need to be resting or on the road when you should be concentrating on your driving. You could be damaging your organs and therefore, putting your life at risk.
While your going through whatever it is you need to go through, be good to yourself. Go for long walks in your favorite places, buy yourself a new shirt, eat at a familiar restaurant, and if you meditate, meditate often. There is no magic formula for how much time it takes or how badly you will feel while your heart and mind repair, but if you allow the process to run its course, in time, you will be in better place. We all know this because it’s part of the human condition; however, we battle with ourselves because we want relief now and we want it without pain. We have become a society of dangerous remedies and quick fixes. It is these remedies that will kill us, not whatever it is we are are struggling with.
Celebrate Progress and Success
I have been dangling carrots in front of me for a long time. A piece of cake for finishing a term paper, a cocktail when the sun goes down, a steak dinner if I get my taxes done on time; you get the point. Giving yourself a reward for letting go or walking away from something is extremely effective.
Music and Dance Can Help You Find Relief
Send in the Clowns from A Little Night Music, is my favorite Sondheim ballad. I think I may have heard a hundred versions of it in my lifetime, but Judi Dench sings it with such amazing depth and passion, I’d have to say it’s my favorite. There have been many different interpretations of the lyrics and Sondheim never really gives away what he was thinking when he wrote it. As with many of Sondheim’s songs, he is telling a story. It’s about so many different things, but what it says to me is accept whatever comes your way. Come to terms with who you have become, relative to who you may have been. Yes, life is hard and there is so much to deal with, but in the end we have hope to hang onto, hence the final verse, “. . . maybe next year.” I know that now more than ever.
I usually start my blogs on Monday morning. This week I sat down and wrote a few lines on Sunday afternoon because I knew what I wanted to write about this week. I noted as the week went on that nearly everything I read or heard or talked about was somehow related to letting go. It’s either the times we live in or a funny coincidence, probably both. Whatever is it, it is one of our greatest challenges; a challenge that lasts a lifetime.