Letting go seems to be the “it” thing to do. Whether you are stressed, anxious, sad, or just feeling like you aren’t getting your way, someone will invariably tell you to just let it go and your problems will be magically solved. There are lots of versions of let it go, and all of them are equally vague. Some even follow up with a religious add on like “let go and let God”, which is even more puzzling to me. It is almost like no one really knows how to do it, we just feel better saying it. We all know we should, we all know it will feel better once we do, but in the end no one seems to know how to pull the trigger.
Letting go is not my strong suit so that may be why I can’t seem to do it or to even grasp what people are talking about. People say to let go, but they never say how or when or what I’m supposed to let go of. I could probably identify the what to let go of (we all have things in our lives that are doing us more harm than good), but even if I did, the how would still elude me.
Am I supposed to just stop caring? Just stop thinking about it? Stop trying to improve or change things that aren’t right or fair or good? And if that is what I am supposed to do, then how do I do it? If I could just stop whatever it is, then I probably wouldn’t be in this predicament in the first place and no one would be telling me to let go because I wouldn’t be holding anything. This is on par with the woman who is solving her debt problem by overpaying her min balance… uh if I had money to overpay I wouldn’t be in debt.
I have decided that week 5 should be about letting go, because if I never let go then I can never be open to anything new and change in my life is unlikely to happen. There are lots of things I’d like to let go of, but letting go has never been easy for me and it remains one of the most difficult things for me to do no matter what it is I’m trying to let go of.
When I was a little kid my mother would clean out my room every couple of months. She would always wait until I was not at home before she would go through every single closet, drawer, nook and cranny I had. She would organize and throw things away. Before you judge her, let me say what she threw away was most certainly junk or trash that I never used, couldn’t use, or just shouldn’t have to begin with. Whenever I got home to find that her ritualistic cleaning had taken place I would quickly do a mental check on what remained and what had moved on to the great green trash bag in the sky. I would cry and throw a fit about my privacy and how that something or other was my favorite and how could she, but secretly on the inside, I was relieved. It felt good to be rid of the items, it felt good to have space and fewer things to sort through. It felt good to let go of useless items that no longer fit in my life. It felt good to lose them and not be forced to say goodbye or purge them myself. This way I got to reap the rewards without having to do the work. I didn’t have to be the bad guy.
As a child I was something of a hoarder, if you ask my husband he will tell you I still am. What he doesn’t know is how big of a hoarder I was. I used to hoard rocks, not because I liked them or used them, but because when I saw them outside they seemed lonely and cold. I used to save old gum. Seriously, no joke. Big wads of chewed up gum in various colors and flavors all stuck to the top of my jewelry box in a massive giant clump. It wasn’t like I was going to ever chew those again, but I couldn’t throw them away either. It felt like I was telling the gum, “you’re no good, nobody loves you, you are no longer useful”. Perhaps I clung to the gum and broken toys because I knew all too well what it felt like to be neglected or tossed aside for a toy that made more noise or had more flavor.
I no longer keep secret stashes of used gum (thank God) or even broken toys, but I do seem to cling to just about everything else. I am no better at letting go in adulthood than I was in childhood. The only thing I have gotten better at is not acquiring new things in the first place. If I don’t bring new things (items, experiences, people) into my life, then I never have to worry about the day when I might have to let go of them. Nothing lasts forever, but if you never have it to being with then you never have to say goodbye either. If only my mother could just swoop into my life and make the judgment call on what should stay and what should go, I could once again have that overwhelming feeling of a fresh start, of a clean jewelry box, and less life clutter. Unfortunately, I am no longer a little kid, and even if I let my mother cleanse my life like an exorcism it wouldn’t really be me letting go, it would be her. And doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose behind letting go?
So this week I am going to identify what needs to go, in a figurative and a literal sense. I would like to find a good way to let go, one that both respects and nurtures the little kid inside me who would rather compile a mountain of chewed gum than throw it away, and one that respects others and doesn’t do damage to them. I would like to release the burdens I have been carrying around that are no longer productive, useful, or even my burdens. I would like to say goodbye to my fears, anger, frustrations and patterns that continue to prevent me from living intentionally and obtaining the life I want.
I’d like to have the final, last, knock down, drag out fight with every aspect of my life that isn’t working so I can start fresh and build again with better supplies.
Out with the old and in with the new. Gone with the useless and in with the useful. I’d like to say what I mean, be heard, and make change happen. I’d like to find space in my life for the happiness I deserve. I’d like to stop letting others, and their insecurities, dictate how I live and what I feel. I’d like to make my family and myself strong, happy and awe inspiring (of course if we end up being enviable that’s cool too :)). Now all I have to do is let go.
I think we all have things we need or should let go of. I think an uncluttered life is a peaceful life. I think the heart and the mind work better when our lives are simple or simplified. Not having to worry about the minutia of life is a great way to live, and having fewer minutia to worry about is a great place to start. There are several kinds of things that you may need to let go of. I’ve listed some below.
Notice I didn’t list stress, or anxiety. I mean duh. Of course you need to let go of those, but in order to let go of a feeling or unconscious physical response, I argue you must first let go of whatever is producing that response. And the 6 things listed above are the most likely culprits to why you feel bad, are stuck, anxious, or stressed out. If you can attack the list and find ways of letting go of those items, then the negative feelings associated with them should GO right along with them.
Each day this week I will talk about one of the things on the list and suggest real, doable ways of letting them go. It won’t always be easy, but by the end of the week I’d like to be free of some things that have been causing me strife, so that next week I have free space to let in or create the intentional life things I choose. Stay tuned!
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