At your own pace, in your own time, in your own way.
People in our society throw around the words “Let it go” presuming that letting go is easy and effortless. But the truth is some of the things we’re holding onto aren’t so easy to release. And honoring yourself by releasing in your own way at your own pace is so important. No one can ever tell you when it’s time to let go, although they may try. No one knows your spirit and your heart and what you need like you do. You are the expert of you.
I had a difficult childhood. There was a lot of pain and an incredible amount of suffering. My parents suffered and were disconnected from themselves and they perpetuated that suffering. When I cried or expressed my suffering, I was told to “Let it go”. As if the suffering I experienced was a burden for others to deal with and that somehow there was something wrong with me for expressing my feelings and something wrong with me for how long it was taking me to “just get over it already”.
I understand now that the type of shaming that I experienced from some of my family members was actually a manifestation of their own guilt and shame. It wasn’t personal.
My work was to stop expressing those deep feelings, which are precious valid and sacred, to those who could not understand or who could not receive them with love. The adage “casting pearls before swine” comes to mind.
So I stopped. I realized I would never experience relief externally from the painful experiences, no one could give me what I needed. I needed to give it to myself.
This process for me is ongoing. I truly feel that “letting go” is a value for me rather than a goal. Something I will do a little bit at a time for the rest of my life because it is that important to me.
Letting go for me means freedom and ultimate liberation, and by regularly letting go, I regularly experience freedom. So I make a regular practice in my life to let go, but it is not about how much or how often, or even that it is complete. It is also not about how fast. “Much” “Often” and “Fast” do not apply when it comes to the gentle and compassionate process of letting go. Any harshness, judgment, or evaluation of your own letting go process are indicators that more self-compassion is needed.
Self-compassion is the necessary foundation of letting go. It is the foundation of every change.
Everyone’s letting go journey is different and what it looks and feels like will be your own. Listed here are phases of letting go that may shed light on your own process.
Seven Phases to Letting Go
1. Looking deeply
Know truly what you are holding onto. Look deeply to understand the "why". Courageously identify the beliefs and emotions that underlie your attachment to what you are holding onto. Look at all the ways this attachment has affected and impacted you (physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually, energetically…). Think of your attachment to what you are holding onto as an octopus. Look at where in your life the tentacles have attached and are affecting. Do all of this with compassion, gentleness, and non-judgment.
2. Processing & Healing
Remember there are reasons you are still holding on. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself as you honestly reflect on those reasons. Listen to your mind, heart and spirit. Allow any necessary time for healing. Honor your own pace for processing and healing.
3. Trusting Yourself
Trust your own self, and no one else, to know when it is time to release. You will know when it is time to take action, when you are getting clear signals from your body and your psyche. It is so important to honor yourself and your process.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” -Anais Nin
4. Releasing & Asking for Help
Sometimes what we’ve been holding onto has been with us for so long we don’t know how to completely let go and can feel stuck. This is when we ask for help and support to push and pull us through this release process and past the stuck phase. In this way our friends and support team act as midwives through our re-birth and help us get through the release, the letting go.
5. Recovery & Reflection
After the letting go process, you may physically feel as though you were hit by a ton of bricks and that you are emotionally very sensitive and raw. You may cry a lot. Take time for recovery. Book a hotel room, pamper yourself in your own special way. Allow time for quiet reflection on the letting go process.
Offer gratitude to yourself for embarking on this journey. Offer gratitude for the gifts that you received and learned. Offer gratitude for your difficult ones for the inverse lessons they taught you (i.e. possibly sparking a greater capacity in you for love, compassion, fairness, justice, humility, grace). Offer gratitude for your support team.
Connect back with your body, mind, and spirit. Notice how you feel. You may feel lighter, you may notice more clarity, more energy, and a new feeling of hope. You may feel a sense of power. Integrate all these feelings into your being.