A few years ago, I celebrated my birthday by inviting a few of my friends over to my house for afternoon tea (btw, this is a great excuse to sample scones ahead of time). As we poured Rose-Infused Earl Grey into our cups and broke off bite-sizes Raspberry Lemon scones and placed them on our plates, we shared our best-learned life lessons so far. These included a combination of no longer feeling the need to please everybody nor contort ourselves in order to fit into society’s definition of beauty.
Needless to say, we all agreed that we were happy our 20s were over.
What Are You Going to Let Go of This Year?
Being the birthday girl, my friends took turns asking me what my hopes were for the upcoming year. I tried to find a truthful answer, and so I listed what had become the usual: travel more, earn more, do more, be more, more, more, more.
That’s what we’re supposed to do, right? Work towards something, achieve said thing, and repeat, as long as we make it bigger and better than the last accomplishment.
Then another friend of mine asked me, “What are you going to let go of this year?”
Everyone around the table, myself included, paused, and the room went silent.
“Like stop doing something?” I asked, scanning my mind for a bad habit like drinking too much coffee, that I could dare myself to stop.
“Yeah,” she said. “What no longer serves you?”
Although I didn’t share it at the time, a certain person’s face flashed across my mind, and I knew my subconscious mind was nudging me to do what I had been afraid of doing. I needed to free myself from what had become an unhealthy cycle.
What to do? What to do?
Even though this person had been making me miserable for a long, long time, and most of my interactions with them were negative and my feelings were constantly hurt, I had still been holding on.
I didn’t ask any of my friends how to let go of someone you love because I figured their advice wouldn’t work, not because I didn’t value their opinions, but because letting go of someone who had once meant so much to me seemed like an impossibility.
Because I didn’t want to dampen the mood of the party, I kept it lighthearted and said something like, “Stop being so hard on myself.” My guests politely nodded, and we passed the plate of assorted macarons around the table.
Sneaky habits that cause more harm than good.
You might not need to let go of a person. Perhaps your relationships are all healthy and if they’re not, you believe they are worth repairing.
But if there are other things that weigh you down, hold you back, or simply make you unhappy, then it’s time for you to re-examine these, and leave them behind.
If you’re wondering how to let go of the past, perhaps you can start by looking at deep-seated feelings and negative habits, such as:
These can sneak into many aspects of our lives, and overlap. They also keep us stuck.
So, How Do You Let Go of Feelings of Resentment or Guilt?
I’m not a healthcare practitioner; I can only share what’s worked for me in hopes it helps you to take steps towards feeling better.
While not quick or easy, you can start by examining what is the cause of your resentment or guilt and addressing this, one step at a time.
Often, seeking professional therapy with a trusted and competent therapist can be a good idea.
All of this takes time, but once you’ve done the work of eroding these negative blocks, you’ll be much freer to do what you really want to do.
Do You Do Any of These Bad Habits?
Instead of being focussed on how to let go of someone you love, ask yourself if you do any of the following:
- Engage in negative self-talk?
- Ignore your instincts?
- Put yourself second, third, or last?
- Ruminate about the past?
Sometimes negative habits are built around supporting what isn’t good for us. So if you’re thinking, “I need to change my life but I don’t know how,” then start with something small.
How to Stop These Bad Habits
To stop speaking negatively to yourself, you might need to form a new routine around the time when you are most likely to do this. For instance, if you tend to engage in negative self-talk as you’re getting ready in the morning, you might want to play a motivational podcast as you get ready in the morning in order to limit your inner monologue and get you into a better mindset.
To stop ignoring your instincts, start to meditate or journal. There are many apps that can help you start to mediate, even if you start practicing for one minute per day. Journaling is another great way to take time to listen to yourself and sort through your thoughts.
With more time, space, and energy, imagine how much happier you’ll be and how much more fulfilling your life can be.
How to let go of the past.
You can do a lot, but you can’t do everything. In other words, to say yes to something, you need to say no to something else.
“Your new life is going to cost you your old one.
It’s going to cost you your comfort zone and your sense
It’s going to cost you relationships and friends.
It’s going to cost you being liked and understood.
It doesn’t matter.
The people who are meant for you are going to meet you
on the other side. You’re going to build a new comfort
zone around the things that actually move you forward.
Instead of being liked, you’re going to be loved. Instead of
being understood, you’re going to be seen.
All you’re going to lose is what was built for a person you
no longer are.”
It can be scary to release things or people you’re used to, even if they’re not good for you, or worse, destructive. There’s a certain sense of comfort in the familiar.
But do you want to be comfortably miserable or full of excitement about what your future holds?
Taking your cue from nature.
If you’ve ever thought, “I need a change in my life but I don’t know how,” then you’ve probably made New Year’s Resolutions or written goals in an attempt to solidify your commitment to change.
Maybe it’s because we spent our formative years as students and are used to starting new courses, new friendships, and getting into a new routine this time of year. The change in weather from hot and humid to cool and crisp naturally clears our palette, leaving us ready for a fresh start. Often, it’s a perfect time to decide, “I want to change my life completely,” and take steps in that direction.
You might be afraid or hesitant to change your life, but if you take your cue from nature, you’ll see that change is natural and necessary.
From season to season, leaves change drastically even disappearing altogether leaving branches bare until they bloom again.
Look at the trees that were recently lush and green. Their leaves are about to turn deep shades of red, citrusy orange, and sunny yellow. The fullness and richness of each of these leaves is always mesmerizing.
Pick Up a Fallen Leaf and Take in Its Lessons
If you take a moment, pick a fallen leaf up off the ground the next time this autumn, and you will notice that it’s not any less than what it was. Its perfect shape and rich color makes it unique and breathtaking.
Without these changes, the tree’s natural state would be stunted, never transforming itself to its full capacity, and we would never see its beauty. It would wither up and die.
You can transform into showing the more unique and breathtaking parts of yourself too. The best part is that you don’t have to exert a ton of effort. It’s not about adding more, more, more. You can simply make positive changes in your life by letting go of what is no longer serving you.
You don’t know what you’re missing.
Over time, I did cut back my daily espresso intake from three full mugs to zero, having made the semi-switch to matcha tea. The person that made me suffer endlessly no longer has any power over me. That person’s last few messages to me went unanswered.
The results of both these things: I feel so much better. Physically and emotionally.
The irony is that I couldn’t easily attain those things that I said I wanted at my birthday party: to travel more, to earn more, to do and be more of who I already was because I was burdened with unhealthy habits and a toxic person.
The best part is that when I did stop holding onto what wasn’t good for me, I created room for richer and more fulfilling experiences. Most of which weren’t even on my radar before. They were truly beyond what I could see.
Imagine your life practicing self-care, spending your time doing what you’ve been putting off, and being surrounded with people who value you.
So, what do you need to let go of to reach your full potential?
Feel free to share what you’re going to unburden yourself with in the comments below.