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Healing Your Life Series: Learning to Let Go


Letting Go…

What does it mean to let go? What exactly are we letting go of? And, is it really worth it?

Let Go*This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commissionΒ should you make a purchase using these links, with no additional cost to you.

When we talk about letting go, what it really means is to release ourselves, mind, body and spirit from the internal and external circumstances that are weighing us down, keeping us stagnant and limiting both our potential and happiness. A few examples include (and this is by no means exhaustive):

  • relationships (incl. intimate partners, friendships, family, work)
  • hurtful experiences from our past
  • emotions and beliefs
  • a certain way of living life

Letting go of these and other circumstances in our lives can be extremely difficult, and we can end up holding on to things that are no longer working for us for years. This is often due to a) fear of the unknown and/or b) fear of being hurt. Fear of the unknown can be particularly salient for a lot of people, and leads many of us to stick with the pain, sadness and dissatisfaction we know rather than venture into a place we don’t know. If we stick with what we know, at the very least we know what we’re getting and can plan for it.

Other fears can include; fear of being alone, fear of “failure”; fear of being “wrong” and guilt or taking ownership of how other people will feel.

It Is Hard…

So yes, it can be exceptionally hard to “let go”. It can feel like there is a lot at stake. But if we don’t, if we keep holding on to the mental, emotional and physical toxicity in our lives we may find ourselves being overwhelmed by cycles of hurt, disappointment, regret, contempt and fear. And these emotions can wreak serious havoc on our health. What’s more, we are never really able to live our lives as we intend. It’s like being stuck on a ride that never ends and someone else is at the controls. We don’t give ourselves the chance to experience a sense of autonomy and empowerment in our lives because we are run by our burdens and baggage. And by holding on, we miss out on the opportunity to fully live in the present moment. Instead, we are constantly caught up with what has happened to us in the past. That can be a lot to miss out on. And it can all be extremely overwhelming, which can lead to the behaviour of numbing. This can be done with food, alcohol, drugs, sex, etc. Anything to push down the unhappiness that comes with holding on when we know it is time to move forward.

But sometimes, we just so badly want things to work themselves out or to change on their own, and so we sit tight and hope for the best.

The truth is simply this, however. We cannot experience a new beginning without experiencing some type of ending first. Most of us will try to cheat this system because, let’s be honest, endings can be uncomfortable or downright painful. And so we might try to initiate a new beginning before experiencing the ending first, in the hopes of avoiding the discomfort. The problem with this is that it simply isn’t the natural rhythm of transition. What is the natural rhythm, you ask? It essentially goes like this; ending —–> nothingness —–>beginning. So, when we really break things down, it isn’t necessarily the end that people fear most, but the nothingness that follows.

But think about it, a tree does not try to hold on to it’s leaves at the end of summer. A tree must shed it’s leaves in fall and lay dormant in winter before it can blossom and grow in the spring. And by trying to cheat the system, what we often end up doing is repeating old patterns over and over again; same story, different players. By completing the transition as nature intended, we are able to emerge from our ‘nothingness’ (often a time of contemplation and reflection) as a new version of ourselves. And if we look at traditional cultures around the world, there are amazing historical rites of passage that have been observed and documented. So this natural rhythm definitely applies to us as well.

So, We’ve Got to do ‘The Work’

I would imagine your next question is, how do we ‘do the work’, right? Now, I’m not saying you need to go out into the dessert, alone, for a week and re-emerge as a “new you”, but there is definitely power behind delving further into the idea of endings and beginnings, and gaining a fuller sense of this process.

The first step might be for us to begin redefining how we view endings and letting things go in our lives. If instead of viewing this as a source of pain, simply a loss and something to avoid, Β we viewed it as a necessary process in life and one that allows us to grow, develop and blossom, maybe we would fear and fight it less. Maybe even learn to embrace the experience of shedding that which no longer serves us. Aligning ourselves with that natural rhythm of life.

As well, a major part of ‘the work’ is increasing our own resiliency and inner strength. If we learn and practice to love ourselves and believe in our worth and potential, when faced with an opportunity to let go of something that holds us back, we can say to ourselves (and believe) that,Β although I may feel loss and may not know exactly what is in store for me, I will be okay. And thereforeΒ we can better move through a transition and experience our endings and new beginnings in a more fluid manner.

It’s important when building up this internal strength to spend conscious time acknowledging what you are afraid will happen if you let go. Giving fear a voice, temporarily, cannot hurt you. It simply allows you to tap into your thoughts, see them for what they are (just thoughts) and challenge them as appropriate. Fear often wants to keep in the dark, but by shining a light on our fears and working through them we are much better able to get a place where we can breathe deep, have faith and move forward.

Holding on is believing that there’s only a past; letting go is knowing there is a future – Daphne Rose Kingma

 

I’d love to hear about how you find the inner strength to move forward, even when it feels really tough to do so.

~Melissa

 


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17 Comments

  • Reply
    Sandra
    May 18, 2017 at 12:04 am

    I turn 38 tomorrow and it brings tears to my eyes when I look around and realize that I’m ‘still here’. I haven’t moved up, down or sideways and I know it’s due in large part to me holding onto fears and holding onto my past and ideas of what/who I believe I am, based on what others believe about me. It has definitely been a year of transition, especially in the last month. Internal growth and spiritual maturity has taken me by storm and slowly but surely, the things I held onto are melting away. It’s a good place to be though. I’m in the period of nothingness and it’s where I’m learning to honour where I am in life and immerse myself in the present moment….the calm before the storm if you will. Even if I wanted to move up, down or sideways, having no phone and no car tells me, I need to be here. It’s a great time to practice gratitude and just let go of who I used to be.

    • Reply
      Melissa
      May 18, 2017 at 11:52 am

      Sandra, I can absolutely relate to everything you have just said; I think most people can. The nothingness can be a very scary and overwhelming place to be. And sometimes we confuse it as something else, like we’re just being lazy because we aren’t taking full blow action yet…but those are just remnants of fear. I agree with you, sounds like you are exactly where you need to be. I wish you the absolute best as you continue on your journey of internal growth and spiritual maturity. The strength in your honesty and vulnerability tells me you are headed for some great things! Keep me in the loop πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Emi
    May 31, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    On the note of letting things go, whenever I feel frustrated at the lack of “progress”, or it feels like i’m forcing the “work” to change, I take a step back and do a day of self care. Loving yourself, and taking time off for yourself does wonders, and by the next day, I’m fully motivated and determined to make shit happen!

    • Reply
      Melissa
      May 31, 2017 at 5:50 pm

      I love that! It’s so true, I find the exact same thing happens for me. It’s amazing what a little distance and self care can do when it comes to getting shit done lol.

  • Reply
    Elina
    May 31, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    My good friend showed me the way — When in doubt, help somebody. It really works. To stay strong, I like random acts of kindness, they are contagious, they really work.

    • Reply
      Melissa
      May 31, 2017 at 5:52 pm

      Elina, such a great piece of advice. And I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes when we feel down and out the best thing we can possibly do is give to others what we could use ourselves. Does wonders for the soul.

  • Reply
    Jess
    May 31, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    When my mother and I are stressed about something we are unnecessarily harboring we actually sing a refrain or two of Elsas let it go as a gentle reminder that we need to let go of the things we have no control over.

    • Reply
      Melissa
      May 31, 2017 at 5:54 pm

      LOL. Jess, that’s awesome. Who knew singing three little words could make such a difference in our well being. That song has done wonders for kids and adults alike, hasn’t it!?

      • Reply
        Jess
        June 6, 2017 at 10:54 pm

        Yes I believe so

  • Reply
    Travelberries
    June 1, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    Thank you for validating all my feels. Sometimes knowing that somebody shares the way we feel and knowing that we are not a weirdo do the trick. Great post!

    • Reply
      Melissa
      June 1, 2017 at 6:05 pm

      Isn’t that the truth! Sometimes we don’t need anyone to fix the problem, we’ll figure things out eventually, we just need to know we aren’t alone! I’m SO glad you finished this post feeling validated, that means so much to me πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Dani
    June 2, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    Oh…how refreshing it was to read this. This is my life right now…I was recently in a situation-ship – It was such an ambiguous experience and it left me unsure about the union….so I gave it space to figure itself out…since then I was exposed to experiences with people that brought so much value and clarity on the surface level. I knew from there —I need to close the last situation so I could become new – love – love – love this read – thank you!

    • Reply
      Melissa
      June 2, 2017 at 1:07 pm

      Dani, that is amazing. To be able to first give yourself the grace of taking space and then opening yourself up to these people and experiences is something a lot of people struggle with. It sounds like this time and space gave you the direction you needed, and you made a decision that was best for you and your life moving forward. Love it! Thank you for your very kind words πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Amanda
    June 2, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Agree with so many points in this post.

    I think we all struggle to let go because of the unknown. And like you say it does come down to fear. Fear of not knowing what to expect. Fear of losing something we once had.

    But ultimately moving on and letting go is the strongest thing we can achieve and whilst it will be different from person to person, just trying to let go and move on is the first step.

    Great post!

    Amanda | http://ldnrose.com

    • Reply
      Melissa
      June 2, 2017 at 12:55 pm

      So well put, Amanda. I completely agree, letting go is such an act of strength, and yet in those moments leading up it can feel like a weakness, like we’re losing. But there is something freeing about taking that first step, and realizing the courage and growth that comes with it. Thanks so much for your extremely valuable thoughts πŸ™‚

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