Lately I find myself talking to clients about holding on to things well past the expiration date. People, places, and dreams…but mostly feelings. Some relationships are for a season. We are not meant to stay in the same place forever. This is especially true if growth is occurring. Feelings have their purpose. They provide us with valuable information. Anger tells us there is a problem. Fear says be cautious. Excitement gives us reason to anticipate pleasure. Yet we need to move on from these places and spaces. They are not suppose to be a permanent residence.
Marie Kondo has made a name for herself as a best-selling author and the Netflix host of Tidying Up. The Kondo method asserts that we should only hold on to things that spark joy. The bottom line is we need to learn how to let go. While it is necessary and inevitable for all, the “how” of letting go remains nebulous and elusive for many, if not most.
So what is letting go? It is a process that involves acceptance, grieving, and moving on. Accept what? A reality that we can’t change. There is very little that we can control. Yet there are many things we attempt to control. Control is an illusion. It simply doesn’t exist. If we could avoid negative emotions and experiences we would. No one chooses sadness or disappointment. It comes whether we want it or not. We do however, get to decide what to do with it when it arrives. Experience it. Express it. Find comfort. Let go!
Grieve what? Grieve the inevitable loss we will experience in life. The loss that is a consequence of death, disease, divorce, distance, destruction, disability, desertion. Those damned D’s!
Move where? Move on to the next idea, dream, choice, relationship or phase of life. Letting go promotes change. It creates space and opportunity for growth. It allows us to focus on the next relationship, goal, feeling, (fill in the blank). It is movement that propels us forward. The alternative is stagnation and sometimes regression.
Why is it so hard? Letting go involves many difficult emotions like frustration, anger, disappointment, sadness, and grief. No one wants to experience emotional pain. However, it is an unavoidable part of the process. Often times, denial is used to avoid painful realities.
Denial (an unwillingness to accept reality) fuels the tight grip that people have on expired life experiences. It perpetuates the fantasy that things don’t have to come to an end. It allows us to believe that it could have been different. Yet, it is what it is.
Given the pain that some life experiences create, I would expect that letting go would be a priority. Why hold onto to people who hurt you, dreams that won’t come true, beliefs that cripple you, feelings of betrayal, an argument where no wins? You are just wasting time and energy. Forgive. Relax. Relate. Release.
Letting go does not only mean losing. Sometimes we gain and grow. Growth requires vulnerability. My clients hate that word: vulnerability. For them it means weak and open to attack. For me, however, it means courage and open to possibility. So be brave! Be bold! Let go!
Let go and give in to the possibilities. Let go of the fantasy of what could be and accept the reality that life has to offer. That was then; this is now. Now can be awesome!