How to Live a Free and Purposeful Life by Letting Go of What Holds You Back
Recently I spent time with my eldest daughter, her husband, and in-laws. We had a wonderful time at the beach. When I think of her, I feel a mixture of love, joy, gratitude, and also a little sadness because she has given her heart to her husband - as it should be. She has grown up and created her life the way she wants and has expanded her circle of loving and supportive friends.
I knew I had to let go of each of my children and let them discover themselves, their purpose, and why they were here. As any parent knows, it is a difficult process that began when they were in their teens. I had my dreams for them and even though I believed I knew what was best for them, I had to let them try the things that they felt called to do and also make their own mistakes. I had to let go of what I thought they should or shouldn't do. After all, they were on loan to me from God. I could advise and give direction but I also had to honor the fact that they had their own unique destiny. I knew that once I gave them roots, I had to support them to find who they uniquely were, separate from my husband and myself, and do what they were called to do. I prayed a lot that they would be safe and when I say I had to let go, I mean I didn’t push them, try to control or hover but allowed them the space to find themselves.
Saying goodbye to my daughter when we head home, always puts a deeper crack in my heart because that bond is always there, that mother's love, and I miss her.
My daughter is caring, thoughtful, funny, and creative. As we hugged before I left on the train, I covered my sadness well, I would never put pressure or a guilt trip on her. I let her go to flourish and bring to others the joy she brings to me. I encourage her to fly.
To Live Life Fully is a Continuous Letting Go Process
Letting go is an everyday thing. Perhaps it’s letting go of one dream you thought would work out but didn't, and if you let it go, there is something even better for you around the corner. It might be letting go of the frustration of being unable to do physical activities at the level that you could once do. Perhaps it's letting go of expectations of relationships you thought would work out but didn’t. Or letting go of business or career dreams that weren’t meant to be and that you have to move on from. There is a long list of things we can let go of, that's why I encourage making it a daily practice. Here are a few more:
- Holding a grudge, not wanting to forgive (this could be a red flag that you need to do some healing on the issue if you have tried to forgive but are still feeling anger, hurt, and resentment).
- Limiting Beliefs
- Clutter, either emotional or physical clutter
- Past Mistakes
- Negative Habits
There's more that I address in my upcoming book about "how to let go" but this is enough for now. There’s grief in letting go. It’s like shedding skin. Letting go means surrendering what you expected for what is. The reality of what is.
We want what we want when we want it. However, not getting what we want isn’t always a bad thing. Not getting what we want hones and refines us, allowing us to be better people, people of character, wisdom, and depth. Letting go and surrendering is a part of allowing something better into our lives.
Journaling can help the Letting Go Process
Journaling is a valuable tool for gaining self-awareness and a deeper understanding of yourself.
I've given you a few journaling questions and prompts below that may help you to let go. Take 10 - 20 minutes (or as long as you need) to meditate and write your answers to the questions. You could put inspiring or meditative music on in the background, or do whatever makes you feel more relaxed. Some people find it helps to use their non-dominant hand. Journaling like anything is a skill and you get better at it over time. Just do the best you can and persevere.
- Make a list of the things you might be struggling to let go of.
- If you could let go of one of those things, what might be something better that could replace what you're letting go of? Or what would you like it to be?
Write that out in a few paragraphs or more. Don't limit yourself but allow the flow of consciousness through your pen without editing. Be willing to dream and to be surprised by what might come through your pen. Make sure you have a journal or exercise book that is easy to write on and the same for the pen. A pen that flows easily is best. Try not to judge anything you've written, leaving all negativity aside. Use your imagination, feel the feelings, and see the vision of how that would look and feel. If you have trouble letting go and allowing yourself to dream, try EFT-Tapping on that issue. It helps you to let go, as it calms the stress response allowing your body and mind to relax.
- As you choose that one thing on your list and write about it, work on letting it go. If you have trouble letting it go, try surrendering that issue to your higher power (whatever you call that higher loving presence, it could be the Light or God). If that is just too difficult and you find yourself stuck and not getting anywhere then try EFT first and then go back to journaling again. There are tapping scripts there for anxiety that you could use to help you feel more calm and relaxed.
- In the letting go process, we can also ask to hear from your higher power's insights and wisdom for you at this time. It could simply be that small, still, inner voice that you discern when you are in a quiet, meditative space. For some, it can be difficult to begin and one of the things you could try is to imagine you are walking with one of your kids or someone you love and respect. As you talk and ask questions, there is a back-and-forth flow of conversation. It is the same with God, (or your higher power, or the source, or the inner light). This divine presence wants the best for you, loves you unconditionally, and loves to spend time with you. It's okay to express yourself fully and completely, there is no judgment here, and this is where insights and even healing can occur. You are accepted and loved no matter what. It's okay to be angry, sad, or frustrated. Whatever you are feeling and need to express is okay. Throw out perfectionism and any editing, or judgments. Just be yourself, you are already accepted and loved just the way you are, even if your feelings seem difficult and angry. Practice this process for one to two weeks every day.
- You could ask this loving presence, what do you say about me? Then start journaling with whatever pops into your mind. Remember anything coming from this loving presence is always positive and encouraging. If it isn't then you know you are not hearing from God.
- A great resource to check out if you want to learn more about journaling is: IAJW at: https://iajw.org/
EFT-Tapping and IFS help you in Letting Go
EFT-Tapping (Emotional Freedom Techniques) can help you to let go because the opposite of letting go is holding on. We hold on and try to control our lives usually because of fear. EFT can help you calm fear by releasing the stress response, the fight, flight, freeze response in the body. It will help you get unstuck. You might be angry at someone, your situation, or even God for any number of reasons. I understand, and EFT can help you work that out. Anger and resentment are valid emotions and not necessarily "bad." They point us to an underlying issue and allow us to heal that root problem and the negative beliefs attached. Holding on to those emotions only causes sickness in your body and mind. I don't think any of us want that. Here is more about EFT-Tapping: https://www.gailmae.com/eft
IFS (Internal Family Systems) is a therapeutic modality I also use to help clients in the letting go process. It is designated as an evidence-based practice by the National Registry for Evidence-based Programs and Practices. IFS is based on the view that our mind is made up of relatively discrete subpersonalities, each with its unique viewpoint and qualities. Journaling can help you through these different parts of yourself with their often conflicted feelings so you can gain more acceptance, understanding, and compassion for yourself. More about IFS: https://www.gailmae.com/internal-family-systems
The more self-acceptance and self-awareness we have, the easier it is to let go. It's a constant process and worth it because your peace of mind is invaluable. That process of never giving up - while letting go of what keeps us stuck is the mettle you need for a successful, well-lived life. Letting go will open the door for new and greater possibilities for you.
Letting go of those things we have no control over gives you freedom, peace, and joy. In letting go and surrendering to God, you are letting God take care of those people and events you don't have control over. It is freeing - God wants to share our burdens and comforts us in our letting go.
Here is a Prayer of Surrender if you'd like some help with letting go:
Reach out to me if you need some support with all the above. I hope that you will experience the same freedom that I have received in letting go.
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