The Complexities of Letting Go
There are a lot of self-development quotes floating around these days about letting go and moving on and to be honest, I take it for granted that I agree with most of them; however, it has come to my attention recently that some people take offense at the oversimplification they perceive in these words. I want to say that I do understand this offense, and that to people in the throes of suffering "letting go" does seem like a ridiculous concept. I know.... I've been there. But I also want to say that just because it doesn't seem that simple right now, doesn't make it any less true. The nature of "letting go" is simple, it is human nature that makes the process complex. And complex it is! I am not an expert on "letting go" or how to get yourself through those complexities, but I do think I have some insight to offer on the issue... so here it goes.
First, we cannot accept an idea until we are emotionally ready to process it. Because of this, the idea of "letting go" will seem ridiculous or offensive until we are ready to accept our own power over our current experience. And that is a GIANT step for most of us. Most of us start out in a place where we feel like no one undestands what we are going through. And most of us believe we would not hold on to something if we had the choice to simply "let go" of it. I'd like to clarify the fact that holding on to something is natural and it doesn't indicate that there is anything wrong with us. But nothing has the power to hold onto us, unless we let it. The first step to letting go is recognizing that the grip is always ours. Saying that something external holds onto us, is giving our power to that external force. We need to take that power back. This is not a statement that's meant to insult or belittle anyone -- it is a statement to EMPOWER.
Secondly, "letting go" does not mean forgetting. Memories are a part of us and cannot be erased... even though there are those we may like to erase. Memories surface and the emotions they stir must be released over and over again each time they come up. The good news is, this gets easier with practice, and there are coping mechanisms that can be learned to help with it. The more we acknowledge and release them, the less power they have. "Letting go" does not mean forgetting or erasing the past, but rather to release the emotions that keep us tied to it and apply the lessons learned from it. It involves recognizing that we are not defined by those events or those emotions. It involves the realization that we are so much MORE than any event or emotion that has come to pass. We are not forgetting or denying that the past ever happened, we are simply learning to release the emotional effects in the present moment. It involves detaching ourselves from our story. Our story does not define us. It is just a story. It is not who we are. We grow through it. The story changes. We are MORE than the story. And if we take the opportunity to learn what we can from that story and allow ourselves to grow from it, we can move into the next story better equipped than we were before.
"Letting go" also involves letting go of the assumptions we project on other people. Saying or encouraging the belief that "no one understands" futher isolates us. I want to assure you that no matter what you are going through, someone, somewhere understands what you are feeling. No, no two of us have the exact same experience, but we all do have the same range of emotions. I am not saying that to minimize anything that you are feeling or have felt, I am saying that to maximize your connection. We may not be in the exact same situation, but there are other people who know and feel your pain. We are never alone. We need to be willing to reach out. We need to seek to be understood and to understand. We need to discuss these things. We need to try to work out what blocks us from hearing each other and what makes us feel misunderstood and seek to meet each other. That is my goal here. I am trying to find a middle ground between where I used to be when all of this sounded ridiculous and where I am now when all of this seems like universal truth in order to open the path, and I hope I can effectively communicate it.
"Letting go" is not an easy thing and it does not happen over night and there is no limit to the range of things to which it can be applied. Some of us have trouble letting go of the little things... like what so-and-so said at work or how many balloons we didn't blow up for our kids' party. Some of us tie all of these little things together until we are overwhelmed with one great anxiety. Others are trying to let go of past trauma, major loss, depression, addictions, even illness or disease. There is no judgement to be placed on how serious an issue is. The most traumatizing thing in one person's life varies greatly from that of another, but I guarantee you that they stir the same emotions and the depth of each person's emotions is the same, making each person's experience equally valid.
I'd also like to point out that no one consciously chooses the difficulties they are faced with... depression, disease, addiction, disability, trauma... no one chooses these things, but we can work with our subconscious to find a better way to process them. It has taken me a great many years and a great deal of suffering to embrace new ways of thinking that have ultimately transformed my experience. But it can be done. And it is in our power to do it. And through the services I currently offer it is my intention to help others implement these changes with greater ease and less transition time.
No one is saying "Just let go" and expecting that to be an immediate transition (at least I don't think they are). Do not feel bad about yourself if you are having trouble accepting the idea that it is even possible or simply don't understand where to start. Feel hopeful to acknowledge that maybe it IS possible and you WILL get there in your own time. ALL CHANGE TAKES TIME. It also takes openness to the possibility. No one is saying it is easy to work through any of these issues, but it can be worked through and you can learn coping skills to help you better navigate the experience. No, "letting go" cannot heal cancer or depression or erase trauma or bring your loved ones back; however, it can allow you to continue living in spite of these experiences and bring everything you've learned from accepting and processing them into the next experience in a postive way.
As I said, I am not an expert on any of this, but I have done my fair share of "letting go" in life. And I guarantee you, none of it was easy... until.... it was. It was difficult and I didn't understand but I kept considering new ways of seeing and choosing to adjust my perspective and "letting go" again and again until suddenly something clicked and it wasn't so hard any more. "Letting go" has guided me through the loss of my share of loved ones, through learning to cope with addictions, through learning to deal with my own chronic illness, and through battling hypomanic major depression and borderline personality disorder. I am not saying that "letting go" heals these things or any similar conditions, but I am saying that "letting go" goes a long way in learning to live and cope with them and find happiness in the present. I am not saying that "letting go" can stop a traumatic event from happening or erase the memory of that event from our past, but it can go a long way in recognizing that it does not define who we are in this moment and helping us to incorporate anything we have gleaned from it into the next. There are a lot of things in life that are beyond our control... but how we respond to them, how we grow from them, and how much control we allow them to have over the rest of our lives is always within our power to choose once we accept that choice.
Accepting and recognizing the way we are looking at the world, at other people, at our own experiences and finding the courage to accept that we have the power to let go of all of it and rewrite it in a way that enables us to live more fully and experience more joy is not an easy thing to do. Because we are making these choices subconsciously, we don't even realize we have the power to do it, and we have gotten rather comfortable in that. Limiting beliefs and ideas are learned and accepted by the subconscious in the first seven years of life. We've been playing these so long in the back of our minds and living as though they are truths that we simply don't know any other reality. The existence of choice is not an easy thing to see. Why? It requires us to break through all of these internalized limiting beliefs and accept that we've been choosing our experience all along. And then we have to accept the responsibility of making the next choice! And dear God, what if we choose wrong?? It's a lot of power to accept!
"Letting go" in my best definition refers to letting go of that fear. We need to let go of the idea that we are defined by the choices we did or did not make in the past or the perceived fault that we may be forcing ourselves to accept right now. We need to let go of that pressure to make the right choice and the fear of choosing wrong. There is no right or wrong. There is no fault. There is no definition. Nothing that happened or didnt happen and nothing you will ever do or not do will ever define who you are. No choice you make will ever limit who you are becoming. Life is a continual growth process. We do the best we can with what we have at the time.
Shaping the way we interpret our existence is an ongoing process. It's an individual process. What works for you may not work for me. What's important is to find a way to see things that allows you to keep growing through them and maintain your peace of mind. I am not saying make things up so you can live with them. I am saying grow through whatever experience you've had and find a positive way to apply it moving forward inspite of the pain you may have incurred. Some experiences are ugly, that doesn't mean we cannot find truth and bring beauty through the experience. Find a way you can grow from it. You can let go of the fear and let go of the "why" and let go of the need to over identify with any role that you've played or anything that has happened and embrace your power to choose how you experience your reality in any given moment. It may not be easy, and it may take time, but you can.
In my personal experience I did not have hypnotherapy as an aid, but I did use Reiki to release a lot of limiting beliefs and I did put a lot of conscious effort into how I interpret things on a daily basis. It took me a total of 10 years from the first time I heard "you create your reality", until the moment that I understood it. It took me a total of 20 to understand what my art teacher meant when he explained that we all experience the same emotions instead of just feeling insulted by it... but here I am paraphrasing both of them in the same blog and feeling pretty good about it. It all comes together. We don't always understand how as it's happening, but it all connects in time. Accept yourself where you are and allow yourself the opportunity to grow forward. Ask questions. Connect. Explore. Be open, even when you don't understand. And when you are ready, you may just find yourself "letting go".