This past fall we did a major downsizing. In the process of selling our home and moving to a smaller house we needed to let go of many things – furniture, kitchen items, linens, clothing, memorabilia – even Christmas decorations. In essence, we purged our belongings, streamlining our possessions so that we had what we needed and not much else. Doing this was an interesting process. A part of me loved the freedom that accompanied giving away that which I no longer needed. But there was a side that was a bit sad to say goodbye to what I had grown accustomed to.
Letting go of physical things has never been that difficult for me. But releasing habits, relationships, and other parts of my life that have become comfortable yet no longer serve me, well that is an entirely different ball game!
Yet I’ve learned that as we grow and evolve, we ultimately come to crossroads in our life where we must decide between staying with the status quo and taking a risk that requires us to try a new path and reroute our game plan. I liken it to giving away that extra set of dishes I’ve always had, stored in my closet, ready “just in case” I would need them. Should I release them, or do I play it safe and surround myself with something that no longer serves me?
Sometimes we wisely decide to remain on course and keep going in the same direction. But occasionally we necessitate a shift as we recognize that we’ve become stagnant or maybe even “not the best version of ourselves.” The “thing” we want to release may have functioned as a warm blanket for years. However the reality is that it no longer serves us, and deep down we know that there would be a huge benefit by removing this “thing” from our life.
Perhaps this “thing” is a relationship – romantic or friendship - that once fulfilled us but has now turned toxic. Or maybe it’s a habit, one that we might not even be aware of – like that extra glass of wine in the evening or that afternoon chocolate bar. Sure, this soothes us, but is it in our best interest? This “thing” could even be our job - what challenged us in the past might have become rote, boring, or routine. Maybe our work environment is even toxic. In fact, it could be making us sick.
We all grapple with balancing needs, wants, and responsibilities in life. At times it may be crystal clear what that “thing” is that we’d like to change. Or, it might take some deep contemplation to figure out what we wish to remove from our life to help us become the person we aspire to be. Additionally, certain “things” are easy to fix, but others, not so much. If the broken relationship is the one with our sister, well we might want to think twice before we totally excuse ourselves. After all there are most likely other family members to consider, and eliminating all interaction with our sister might affect them. But if the sour relationship is with a friend who only complains, always brings us down, and offers nothing in return, well that might be a good cord to cut.
The same goes with habits. Certain habits are easy to fix. We can be conscious of our choices and make changes in areas where we have become a bit slack. For example, we can choose a cup of tea over another glass of wine, and we can substitute a healthy energy bar for a Snickers. But not all things are simple to modify. Some habits are deeply rooted. It could be that an unnoticed feeling is what is doing the sabotaging, not a desire for more wine or chocolate. If we don’t take the time to acknowledge this and only stop the habit, no doubt this unrecognized emotion would just appear in another way.
Furthermore, while it may sound great to say “leave your job if it doesn’t bring you joy,” that’s not a practical statement in most situations. There may be bills to pay, limited opportunities in certain areas, or challenges with switching careers, especially later in life. So what do we do if the thought of going to work makes us cringe and want to pull the covers over our head each morning? Do we keep showing up or do we make a change? This is where timing and proactive decisions making come into play. Some things can be let go of immediately while others require patience and intention. Yet, it is worth the time and energy that is necessary to free ourselves of what no longer serves us in order to find our true passion. Because if work causes us great dis –ease, it cannot be good for our body, mind, or spirit.
This process of releasing sounds freeing, and it truly can be. But there may also be a cost associated with severing certain cords to relationships, habits, jobs, etc. People might react in unexpected ways. Our actions may confuse them, cause anger, or perhaps resentment form those in our life. Yet it is not our job to make other people happy because we will never be able to control another’s reaction to our behavior. The only thing we can do is to choose what we believe is the highest good for the situation. In no way is this doing what is best for us at the cost of others. Rather it is understanding our needs and meeting them while being conscious of those around us, honoring all in the process. Make sense?
Letting go isn’t always easy. In fact it may hurt at times. But when we can honestly see what no longer serves us as we work to become our highest selves, we can feel the lightness that evolves when we release the negatives, elevating us higher. Maybe try letting go of that extra glass of wine, the chocolate bar, the toxic friend, the unfulfilling job – or whatever your “thing” is - and witness what occurs. Be the observer. Watch yourself elevate, vibrate at a higher level. And here’s the really awesome part of it all. It’s only when we make space within by eliminating what no longer fits that something truly amazing can enter our life, fulfilling our greatest desires. May this be the motivation to allow the letting go to begin!