Learning to let go, is it possible?
For most of us, letting go is one of the most difficult things to do. For many reasons, we hang on to past problems, grudges, relationships that no longer work, harmful situations, unforgiveness… and hanging on to these things simply continues to produce pain. And exhaustion. And despair.
Letting go is hard for several reasons. We have become used to the problem, the burden, the anxiety…. We have allowed those things to become a part of us, to the point we almost believe we cannot exist without them. Letting go is hard because it implies we are open to what is unknown and undiscovered, and that may bring us feelings of uncertainty and fear. Letting go is hard because in the back of our minds we prefer our known sorrows to moving on with our lives. Letting go is hard because we attach meaning to what has gone and disappeared from our lives. We have the idea that if we let go we will disappear and vanish! Hanging on to things that are no longer relevant or useful has us stuck and trapped.
Letting go does not mean we ignore the problem. It does not mean forgetting what happened. Letting go means that we release the pain and anxiety attached to the problem which does not contribute to the solution. Hanging on to anger, unforgiveness and bitterness only robs us of energy and focus in the present. Our mind endlessly distracts itself with the negative emotions, instead of seeking out clear and objective solutions to the problems. Anxiety is like the rocking chair, it gives us something to do but it doesn’t take us anywhere.
Dr. Judith Sills writes “Getting past yesterday demands both thinking and doing. It's things we do as well as things we think that hold us unwittingly in a painful place.
Letting go means something has to open in your head and in your heart, but that shift, that easing, comes up against our own invisible, often implacable resistance. A great deal of that resistance comes from nothing more pedestrian than the great human reluctance to change. Even change for the better is still change, often initially dreaded and avoided. We are creatures of habit and of inertia. At its deepest level, the prospect of letting go forces us up against our three strongest emotional drivers: love, fear, and rage.”
Think of all the things that are weighing you down. Take time to consider what angers you, what discourages you, what weighs you down. List people or situations that are causing pain, and make the determination to let them go… slowly, carefully… Make a list of people you need to forgive… and people to whom you need to ask forgiveness, for the letting go to be complete.
Letting go is like going to your closet and taking out the clothes and things you no longer find useful. And in the same way you empty your closet of these things, you will find yourself unburdened and open to what is ahead when you let go. You will open new space to new and creative opportunities.
See what you let go not as a loss (like a closed door) but see it as experience and wisdom (an open door). Your pain can be your teacher, and you can certainly learn from each situation you have felt as painful. But imagine each burden as heavy stones you have been carrying around… and then imagine each stone as you drop it away from you and let it go.
Remember the Bible verse: 1 Peter 5:7 (NLV) “Give all your worries to Him (God) because He cares for you.”
Start today letting go, step by step. Open your heart to new and wonderful things ahead!