Strengthening Yourself by Letting Go
This morning it dawned on me how often the idea of strengthening your core comes up in exercise-related classes like yoga, pilates, etc. But it's also important to strengthen your emotional core.
Strengthening your emotional core is:
* Tuning in to how you feel,
* Knowing you are able to feel better,
* Making choices to do so, and
* Doing it.
Strengthening your emotional core is very valuable when you need to let go of people or things. This is because we attach a lot of meaning to people and things.
If we have a breakup or someone passes away, it can be really hard to let go. But letting go is part of healing and it's an important part of living life fully now.
Even though letting go can be difficult, we must do it. Because hanging on is another form of death > where we live in the past or we bring the past to the present. Neither of those choices honor what was or what is now.
A friend I recently met manages estate sales and helps people release their possessions. She was sharing how difficult this can be for some people she works with. As she gave me examples, I noticed a common thread:
* We attach to people and when they are gone we may cling to their items,
* We are just afraid to let go of things, and sometimes we may not even know why.
But here's where a new idea can truly help... you can actually remember someone with more love when you do let go of the possessions. You can take photos of the objects (as Marie Kondo suggests) or you can just pause and remember the memory of the person and the object and give thanks for that experience. Then, you can release both the person and the object to something better. Because when you keep the memory of the person and the object based fear or guilt or sadness, it's like being in prison.
If you struggle with letting go of a person and/or their things, here are some tips that may help you.
1) Really give gratitude for the person and the experience. Whether you plan alone time or you talk with someone close who knew them too, mark this as a celebration and a releasing of the need for their physical form and their possessions.
2) Think of how knowing them helped you be a better person and commit to honoring them by continuing to be the qualities they helped you with. For example, if someone helped you feel safe and loved enough to create art > then create art and smile while you do as you remember them.
3) Find someone to help you release items related to them. If you find someone you trust and who cares, this will make the process feel better. (side note: It still not feel great, but it will feel better) It's okay to be sentimental and to care where their possessions go. If you trust them, then also listen to them. You may think something is worth more money than it is and that could be a block to releasing it. If you still don't trust them, don't give up on the work. Just keep exploring why you are attached to a train collection you will never use. Could you even donate it somewhere to someone who would get to enjoy it?
4) Practice radical self-care as you enter the process of releasing someone and objects. This process does not mean you are releasing them from your heart... just from needing actual objects to remember them. Care for yourself and commit to eat healthy, get out and walk, rest, keep good company, watch a funny movie. It may help to find a safe person, who knew your loved one, so you can talk about your feelings together. Even a support group can help!
5) Hand over details to someone you trust. It's okay to not have to deal with all the details of letting go when you are letting go of objects. If you are selling them, let the person coordinating the sale handle the details. Make sure you have a clear agreement. If you are donating items, maybe you will collect and thank and bless the objects but let someone else deliver them if that feels better.
6) Remember that Love is eternal. Our physical lives and objects are not. Having someone physically in your life is a great blessing, but even if they are gone > the love you shared is not. Likewise, objects can be great reminders... but they are not necessary. You can still experience love without having an object there.
7). Know that you are strong, strong enough to let go. As you practice remembering the goodness of a relationship, you can practice knowing that goodness exists and you don't need the person or object to keep the blessing. Emotional maturity is a process of strengthening ourselves. The fact that you care is a testimony to your loving heart. The fact that you can let go is a testimony to your strong emotional core.
Maybe you can do this work on your own, or maybe you want to work with a therapist, minister or trusted friend. Just commit to letting go of what once was. Because there is joy here now, and you will feel it more when you have freed yourself to do so!
Amy Jane Williams, is a licensed professional counselor with her own practice Amy Williams Wellness. Her heart's desire is to help others be true to themselves and feel better.