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This is the inscription on a bangle that a beautiful friend gave me for my birthday, in the midst of me making some critical decisions.
I wear the bangle (bracelet) all the time as my reminder to no longer continue to be attached to things that no longer serve me and really make me feel like sh*t.
It could be anything—a job, a relationship, a friendship, or a possession, where the cost of holding on for dear life is draining one physically, emotionally, psychologically, and even spiritually. By spiritually, I mean a growing disconnection to dull out our inner knowingness that something is not right for us. When the things we hold onto don’t serve us, they simply keep us stuck, never moving forward in the direction of our own personal growth.
Here’s the thing about what we are emotionally attached to—it’s not actually clinging to us with the same level of investment as we cling to it. We cling to it out of sheer fear and the belief that we need it in order to be okay. We cling because we somehow don’t believe we can get better despite the losses we experience. Yet we cling.
That toxic workplace we continue to go to every day, the friend who always seems to rejoice that she’s doing better than you are, the partner who continues to disregard your needs and disrespects you at every turn, the house you own that you practically have to work day and night to pay off to the point of burnout.
None of these situations are clinging to us.
I held onto relationships that did not serve me, friendships that took more than they gave, and jobs that left me feeling less, rather than more. Yet I stayed longer than I needed to. What was I doing, and why did I not break these patterns sooner? Surely, I should have known better.
I have realized after much self-reflection and a heavy dose of self-compassion that I was holding on tightly, convincing myself that I needed it in order to be okay. What I was holding onto was a false sense of security. By holding on, I continued to let go of the faith and trust required to let go of that which did not serve me.
I don’t think anyone can really make us see that something is no longer good for us. The voice from inside of us has to say, “This isn’t good enough for me anymore.” In this moment, we realize that we’re holding on way too tightly, and by holding on we are not making any personal progress in our life—we are stuck, exhausted, and hopeless.
If you ever feel like you need to make a decision regarding letting go of what no longer serves you, I want you to know that you are at the most important crossroads in your life. The decision you make, at that precise moment, can steer you away from the wreckage that you were headed toward.
I have followed a few steps that have made a real difference to me in times like these and I hope that sharing them with you might provide some guidance at the crucial point of deciding to let go:
1. Turn your attention to your inner knowingness and intuition.
And truly listen for what no longer serves you in this moment of your awareness and in this stage of your life. Listening intently to our own inner wisdom can be a spiritual practice that we often dull out by holding on. I have found that when I turn my attention within, I actually do know when something isn’t good for me, even though I’ve convinced myself otherwise. The first step to letting go is recognizing what no longer serves us. I realized why this is such a difficult first step—because denial that a problem exists keeps us from solving it.
2. Adopt an attitude of acceptance and commitment to letting that sh*t go.
I have observed that when I make a decision to change, my mind tends to come up with excuses for not changing; this creates anxiety and even further clinging. Rather than take a trip down nostalgia lane, accept that we have control of holding on and letting go. Remember, it is not holding on to us. Accept and make a commitment through your actions to let go.
3. Trust that better and more is going to fill the void.
This is a leap of faith, but it holds true every time. When we are committed to our own growth and creating a life worth living, letting go makes room for it. It frees up space in our minds, in our hearts, and in our spirit. The idiom “nature abhors a vacuum” holds true for the laws of nature and physics and certainly for the way we live life. When we let go, we send out to the universe a clear message to direct those things that serve our highest good. Of course, something might come our way that isn’t entirely good, but if we stay true to our intention of goodness, then be sure that the good thing will find us. When we’re not attached to a particular outcome, we can easily let go of it if it does not feel like a good fit. We don’t have to settle—ever.
4. Lastly, grieve that which we are letting go.
This step, for me, is all about self-compassion and a true honoring of what we have to let go of. Letting go of something that once served us, even if only for a little while, creates a sense of grief when we say goodbye to it. I have learnt that stopping the release of the grief can actually still keep us from fully letting it go. Whatever we have held onto needs to be grieved. I have found that having a ritual for the grief—a massage for release, a farewell—is all part of grieving. Marie Kondo had the right principle in mind—giving thanks is a way of saying goodbye to what no longer sparks joy in your life. Grieving is letting go without guilt.
I am staying true and listening intently to my inner knowingness, and the moment I feel that what’s in my space no longer serves me, I am committed to letting it go. Follow your inner knowingness; it will, without a doubt, point you in the direction that is best for you, even if it does not happen immediately. In the meantime, let go and march boldly into the adventure called life.
Another excellent one by Giselle: 4 Mindful Choices for Getting Unstuck from our Emotional Sh*tstorms.