Since it’s the middle of February, I take it most of us have already abandoned our New Year’s resolutions! In all seriousness, I believe that sometimes it’s necessary to release the old before taking on something new. Below are five things that you can let go of to make room for all the exciting and wonderful things the rest of the year has in store for you
1. Let go of material items that no longer serve you
Letting go of clutter can be incredibly liberating, and incredibly simple. We attach so much emotion and memories to physical items. Releasing and rehoming things that no longer serve you can be a catalyst for releasing heavy emotions at you may not even realize you’ve been carrying. In doing so, you make room for new things and experiences.
There are many charities that will come pick used items up from your home. It feels good knowing that you’re not just getting rid of something you don’t need, but you’re giving it to someone who could benefit from it. You can also donate things to a thrift store or even sell them online.
2. Let go of destination addiction
Destination addiction begins with the phrase, “I will be happy when…” When I finish my degree, when I move to a better place, when I’m able to travel. It’s an addiction because it’s a restless feeling that isn’t quenched when any of those goals are realized. Each accomplishment gives rise to a new desire, and without realizing it, you’re on a hamster wheel of constant disillusionment.
This is where letting go is an art form, a balancing act, a dance. Because life does require setting goals and implementing action. But we’ve all either known or been one of those people who strive and strive yet never seem to get anywhere, remaining in the same stuck spot in their lives. So while action is a necessary part of life, it’s so much more productive when it’s born from a place of inspiration rather than struggle. And in order to find inspiration, we have to release the struggle. We have to be ok with where we’re at, even just for a moment.
The more I live, the more I realize that there’s a lot I don’t know. I will always be discovering new things about myself and others, new talents, new perspectives, which will give rise to new desires within me. I think, for me anyway, the key to finding peace in my present moment is to get okay with the fact that I’m still learning and growing; I may not always have everything I want or even need in the moment, but I can still feel joy. It’s ok to relax and enjoy this moment while looking forward to what’s ahead.
3. Let go of expectations
While it’s important to have a clear vision for your future, it’s equally important to be able to release those intentions and allow them to manifest in their own time and way. We can have our lives all planned out, but life has a way of altering our experiences of how those plans will play out! We must be open to being fluid and flowing with not only life changes, but changes within ourselves. Our visions and dreams will change, either a little or a lot. Allow the vastness of life to shape your desires and be willing to embrace the new.
4. Let go of how you wished it would’ve been
Needless to say, life doesn’t always go how we hope or plan. There are endless circumstances that can lead to pain and suffering- losing a loved one, being assaulted or abused, getting into a car accident. It can happen in an instant or be the culmination of years of unpleasant experiences.
But having a traumatic experience doesn’t need to mean a life sentence of sorrow and dysfunction. Human beings are resilient and will always tend towards healing.
If you have been hurt or been the victim of abuse or wrongdoing, you have probably heard of the importance of forgiveness. Well, forgiveness is a loaded word that can mean different things to different people. I worked on forgiveness for years, and every time any anger or sadness would come up, I’d think, “oh no, I blew it!” Now, I like to focus more on letting go and allowing rather than forgiving. It may seem like semantics, but I find this process much gentler than trying to force myself to forgive someone. For example, I acknowledge that I wish that my parents and my childhood would have been different, and I can let that desire go, knowing that the past can’t be changed. Once I release my idea of how it could’ve or should’ve been, I can then move into acceptance. I can allow space for all of my feelings, including my pain, anger, sadness or regret- not becoming consumed by them, but allowing them to just be without beating myself up for feeling a certain way. I’ve learned that there are situations here you may not get the kind of closure that you want, but I now know that you can still move on and live a fruitful life.
In a sense, if we deny our past we deny a part of ourselves, because our pasts have inevitably shaped who we are today. By letting go of our ideas of how our past should’ve been, we are able to fully accept and love who we are today. We are then able to have compassion for ourselves and to extend that compassion to others in a healthy way.
5. Let go of judgements
Give yourself permission to make mistakes. Many times, things that frustrate us about others are things that we consciously or subconsciously don’t accept within ourselves. We’re all constantly evolving, and it’s ok to want to change things about yourself without condemning who you are right now. In fact, it’s much easier to make positive changes when you are in a healthy headspace.
Allow other people to be who they are as well. Perhaps, in fully accepting someone as they are, you will realize that this person is someone you can no longer have in your life – allow that to be so. Perhaps they are a person who is generally good but made a mistake- allow them to be that person. Trying to stuff them into the mould of who you wish they’d be will only cause more resistance for both you and them.
Trust the process of life
Getting into that inspired, creative flow requires the ability to let go. Things like connecting to my breath and taking a moment to reframe my thoughts if I find myself getting sucked into a negative headspace really help me get grounded in the present. There is no magic pill, it just requires a bit of time and awareness. In short, for me letting go means controlling my mind rather than struggling to control external circumstances. Everything seems to flow better when I’m in a relaxed, calm state of mind.
We all hold onto things longer than we should sometimes. It takes faith and courage to let go. Letting go requires trusting that the universe is good, and that whatever we are releasing will be replaced with something better. It means not forcing things that don’t feel completely right. And when you’re able to say goodbye to things, thoughts and situations that aren’t right for you, you free yourself to be completely and unapologetically you.