“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” - Buddha
The New Year means change - changes within ourselves, our relationships, and our everyday lives. These changes might all happen at once or they might happen gradually over time. Earlier this month I wrote a blog post about setting your intentions for the New Year. In case you missed it, you can read it here. When we set new intentions for ourselves at the start of the New Year that doesn’t mean that everything from the past year vanishes or fixes itself. There will still be thoughts, emotions, and relationships lingering, holding you back from living your life to the fullest. This can be anything from living in the past to an unhealthy relationship to negative thoughts or feelings towards yourself to an unhappy career to even just everyday stresses.
Letting go doesn’t have to mean some big dramatic change in your life. Letting go can simply mean letting go of the need to have everything perfect or letting go of the need to work 60 hours each week. Letting go doesn’t need to be a negative thing - it can sometimes be one of the best things you could ever do for yourself. When you let go of things that are no longer serving you, you make space in your life for new possibilities. It is a way to free yourself.
Think of it as looking back through old photos from your life. You will come across images that remind you of an important time in your life and you will come across some that make you laugh out loud. You will probably feel nostalgic as you find yourself looking back at some of your best memories. At the end of the pile, you set the photos down and walk away knowing that you are happy with where you are now. You can’t get away with letting go of something without embracing your past, even the parts that you don’t necessarily want to remember. No matter what, your past is apart of you and got you to where you are today, but that doesn’t mean that you have to live in the past.
Letting go can be scary. It means that you are pinpointing something or someone in your life that hasn’t been bringing you joy. Maybe you’ve been holding onto that person or thing for a few months or maybe you’ve been holding on for decades. Not having that person or thing in your life anymore can be scary, but it is also extremely freeing and rewarding. Once you let go, trust that amazing things will come your way to fill that void. It can be hard to wait, but you must have patience. When we put in the work to get go of what is no longer serving us, the Universe will conspire to bring something even more beautiful into our lives.
Here are some helpful steps to take when trying to release what is no longer serving you:
1. Recognize and Acknowledge. The first step is recognizing and acknowledging what is no longer serving you. This might be a job, a relationship, a home, or a goal. When there is something that isn’t serving us in our lives, we usually know deep down, but we often bury it and don’t want to face it. We pretend because sometimes that can seem easier than making a huge change or letting go of something. But in reality, not recognizing these things can be more toxic and cause us more harm in the long run. A great way to bring what is not serving you to the light is to write it down. Listen to your inner guidance when you make this list - let it guide you.
2. Be Mindful. An excellent way to wake up to what is no longer serving us is to practice mindfulness meditation. Taking some time each day for stillness is relaxing and can help to bring us into the present moment and allow us to not dwell on the past or daydream about the future. Meditation helps to wake us up, making us more aware and mindful of our words, actions, and thoughts.
3. Practice Forgiveness. Once you’re honest with yourself about what it is you need to let go of, make sure you forgive yourself and forgive whatever it is you are letting go of. Forgiveness means that you are ready to let go. Know that there was a reason for what happened and there is a reason that you are moving apart from it, whether that be a relationship, your job, or even a dream you set for yourself. It is important to not blame yourself for anything that happened and it is important to not hold grudges against other people or situations. Acknowledge the good, the bad, and the beautiful from your experience and know that is all served an important purpose in your life.
4. Allow Yourself Time to Grieve. When you let go of something there is a sense of loss - you’re losing something or someone that was a big part of your life. Allow yourself the time to grieve - this is normal and healthy. When you don’t express these feelings they can get trapped in your body, affecting you negatively. Grieving looks different for each person. It might mean you spend hours on end crying for one day and the next day you feel cleansed or it might mean not crying at all. Whatever it is, don’t judge yourself - give yourself permission—feel these feelings and know that the feeling won't last forever.
5. Reconnect with Yourself. This is so important. This is your opportunity to reconnect with yourself and ask yourself what you really want and who you really are. Do something you’ve always wanted to try. Be creative. Travel somewhere new. Treat yourself to a spa day. Move your body and meditate daily. Get into a routine that works for you, where you can come back to a place of understanding and love. Have fun and be honest as you get to know yourself again. It’ll make you so much more stronger and grounded.
So, friends I ask you this:
What can you let go of to be fully present in your own life?
Can you let go of fear?
Can you let go of doubt?
Can you let go of stress?
Can you let go of the need to be perfect?
Can you let go of everything you can’t control?
Can you let go of old relationships?
Can you let go of the feeling that you aren’t enough?
Can you let go of failure?
Can you let go of defeat?
Can you let go of what is not meant for you?
Instead, can you let in love, joy, beauty, and new beginnings?