Sunday, March 1, 2015

Learning to let go

Letting go of anything is a process. It is not simply a matter of opening your hand and releasing something - if it was that easy we would all be doing it.
Image from Spruce
But it's not and we don't

We hold on even if we are miserable....in the vain hope that things will get better.

There is a Grumpy Cat Meme that sums it up nicely: There are two things I hate - change and the way things are.

We all want a different life we just don't want to change anything in the process. No, what we would really like is for a Fairy to come along and with one wave of her magic wand transform everything that we feel needs changing. The thing that we forget is that we are the Fairy... and the magic wand.

There are differing layers in letting go. Letting go of a piece of clothing that you have had for years is easier than letting go of a dear friend has become anything but friendly. The big thing to remember is that by clearing space in your life you make room for the new to bloom and grow.

Every time I have moved home it has been a wrench for me; this is the place where my children were born, here is where they took their first steps, over there is where we created memories. The whole house feels permeated with our tears of laughter and of joy, our highs and lows and it is  which is why space clearing your environment is vital.

Someone once told me that all I put out in the world has claw marks on it and she was right - I fight to hold on and I fight to let go. I have found that my fight to hold on is easing and that my letting go is much more fluid. I am opening and softening into releasing things into the world. Lovely word releasing sounds so restful whereas letting go sounds like work ( well it does to me)


Image from Spruce





Here's some tips to help you on your way:

(1) Start small. 

Whether you are letting go of a place you live to move somewhere new or leaving a relationship the process is the same. Pick one area to work on- one small drawer to clean out. If you focus too much on the job at hand - moving house, it can feel overwhelming so zero in on one drawer, one desk, one room.
If you are leaving a relationship take one small step towards the life you want - tell a friend you are thinking of leaving, start looking at a new rental. Keep it simple.

(2) Go slow.

Letting go is a process, a journey it doesn't happen in one fell swoop. think of it as more of a gradual easing of the grip. Remember those claw marks I mentioned? those come from clinging too tightly, too fiercely and will become a stranglehold if you are not careful. What we are aiming for is a gradual softening, relaxing into it a little more every day. A slow realization that this is happening and becoming at peace with that.
All those house moves I talked about? They were moves that I absolutely wanted to happen but what lay before me; new towns, new people, new life were all uncharted territory and therefore a tad scary. Venturing into unknown territory is always scary and that is why we take it one step at a time, slowly, gracefully and easily.


(3) Keep your eye on the prize

It's easy to forget where you are headed, to let the fear of all the newness overwhelm you and collapse in a heap just remember where you are headed and why. Look at the big picture - a fresh start in a new town is a chance to totally reinvent yourself, breathing space from the end of one relationship gives you a chance to reconnect to who you are  as a singleton.

(4) It's all energy

In the process of clearing clutter, shifting house and ending a relationship you are clearing and making space for new energy to enter your life. This process can release all sorts  of emotions that have been buried underneath a mountain of stuff. Expect to feel weepy and emotional. Expect to have emotional outbursts. It is all part of the process and it's all part of the healing.

Yes, even just clearing out a closet can feel overwhelming! I just did this on the weekend and as I uncovered old parts of me: kids clothes from kids who have long since left home and now have kids of their own, a bag I bought over 25 years ago when I first left my ex husband, leather gloves I bought back when we were still together and on the list goes, I had to decide which bits to keep and which to let go of. The gloves went and so did some of the kids clothes but that hippie bag? Yeah, I kept that .. for a while longer at least.

(5) Be ruthless... and gentle

Sometimes letting go is like ripping off a plaster - one good yank and you are done and sometimes it needs to be that quick. There are times as you are clearing through the closet when you can happily biff things without a second glance... and yet there are also times to be tender and gentle and hold on for just a bit longer. There have been many times when I have thrown things away without a second glance only to realize much later that I wasn't quite done with it yet.

When I first left my husband I gave away everything - EVERYTHING! And one of those things was a leather handbag that he gave me. I really didn't want to let it go because I loved that bag but I was being ruthless so out it went.  And I have been searching for another bag like it ever since.

What is your biggest lesson from letting go?



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