Letting Go vs Holding On
Recently I spent time with my eldest daughter, her husband, and her 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 and why they were here. As any parent knows, it is a difficult process that began when they were in their teens. I had 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 also 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, or hover but allowed them the space to find themselves.
Saying goodbye to my daughter when we had to head home, always puts a deeper crack in my heart because that bond is always there, that mother's love.
My daughter is caring, thoughtful, funny, and creative. As we hugged before I left on the train, I cover 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.
And so I’ve discovered that life to be lived fully is a continuous letting go. Perhaps it’s letting go of one dream for another. Letting go of the physical activities you could once do and can’t now. Letting go of expectations of relationships you thought would work out but didn’t. Letting go of business or career dreams that weren’t meant to be or that you have to move on from.
There’s grief in letting go. It’s like shedding a 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, giving us the opportunity 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 in Letting Go
Here are some journaling questions and prompts that might help you to let go. Take 10 - 20 minutes (or as long as you want) to ponder and write your answers to the questions. You could put inspiring or meditative music on in the background, and light a candle. 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 thing, what might be something better that could replace what you're letting go of? Or what would you like it to be? Don't limit yourself but allow the flow of consciousness through your pen without editing. Be willing to dream and to be surprised. Try not to judge and no editing, leaving all negativity aside.
- As you choose that one thing on your list and write about it, work on letting it go to your higher power (or God, or whatever you call that higher loving presence), it could be the Light.
- In the letting go process, we can also ask to hear from God or your higher power's insights and wisdom. This can be difficult for some to begin and I suggest you imagine you were walking with one of your kids or someone you really like and respect. As you talk and ask questions, there is a back-and-forth flow of conversation. It is the same with God. God really wants the best for you, loves you unconditionally, and wants to spend time with you. It's okay to express yourself fully and completely, this is where healing can occur. Throw out perfectionism and any editing, or judgments. Just be yourself, you are already accepted and loved, even if your feelings are difficult and angry. Practice this process for one to two weeks every day.
- A great resource to check out if you want to learn more about journaling and writing creatively 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 to calm fear by releasing the stress response, the fight, flight, freeze response in the body. It is effective in getting unstuck. You might even be angry at God. I totally 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 problem and give us an opportunity to heal that root problem and the negative belief 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 on 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 own 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 totally worth it because you are worth it. The process of never giving up - while letting go - 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 (i.e: other people, pandemics, etc) 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. God wants to share our burdens and comforts us in our surrender.
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 that and let me know how it goes. My hope is that you would experience the same freedom that I have received in letting go and in surrendering.
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