We hear it in friendships, relationships, spiritual communities, and even in therapy sessions.
“Letting it go” has become the popular jargon for moving forward in our lives.
We are under the impression that we just CTRL+ALT+DELETE this portion from our minds, and voila, it’s gone. We think that the moment we start that dietary change, cut that person out of our lives, start the new career, or make the pivot, that everything will change.
The truth is that the process is so much messier, organic, fluid, and grey than what we can possibly fathom. Letting go has many more layers than we are told.
While I wish there were some cookie-cutter guide to navigating the letting go and renewing process, there just isn’t. Each of us are made up of our unique DNA, ancestral stories, traumas, patterns, cosmological makeup, life circumstances, north stars, callings, designs, social dilemmas, and more.
We don’t have the same capacity, resources, time, gifts, and bandwidth to be with our letting go process fully. But because I know that many of us are devoted to this level of healing, I’ve put together a detailed guide that works for me.
I’m not saying this is an end-all-be-all guide for everybody. I wholly and fully recognize each and every individual’s unique needs.
But I hope some of these highlights will take away the mental burden for those who are trying to figure it all out on their own.
1. Recognize and honor when it is time.
This is often the most difficult part. When we have been in an abusive relationship for a long time, for example, we often can’t see how detrimental it is. Especially if it is something that has further roots in childhood (if our primary caregivers were abusive to any degree, for example), it can feel natural and healthy for us to be in that place.
There are so many examples that I can use, including letting go of an overworking toxic job, or a lifestyle pattern that may literally be killing your health. These are all incredibly challenging epiphanies to bear witness to.
For me, I know it is time to let go of the relationship, the job, the lifestyle, the circumstance (whatever it may be) when it is beginning to feel stale, or when I am no longer learning or gaining anything from this space. I am giving more of my energy than it is giving me, if there is not a reciprocal energy exchange, if I am drained from how much I am pouring in, to the point that I am sacrificing my mental, emotional, or physical well-being, then it is time to let go.
If I am overworking in an underpaying job that never meets my financial needs, requires immense physical labor from my body to the point of exhaustion that pours into other areas of my life, then I know it is time to let go.
2. Navigating the “what ifs.”
This is the space where my mind starts to inflate and take over the situation. I am often met with my own inner fear and resistance toward the letting go process, so much so that I forget to trust in the divine unfolding of all things (including us). I start to think about just how bad it can all go, and I worry about how I will ever make it on this new path without something around me to cling onto.
What I have found to be the most useful but also daunting tool is fully trusting in the mysterious unknown of the universe. And this is bewilderingly challenging. There have been times in my life that I held onto degrading job titles because I am a single mother trying to keep bread on the table. There have also been times when I dropped absolutely everything that impaired my mental well-being and dwelled in the space of fear for quite some time before moving forward.
In this space, I dealt with questions such as, “How will I ever make it?” “What will my security be?” “Don’t I need a foundation when starting over?” “What will I tell people about leaving, quitting, or changing?” “I think this means I have to start over?”
At the core of that, I recognized my resistance. As humans, we are hardwired to dwell in comfort. However, as we move from toxic dynamics to ones that better serve us, we absolutely have to pivot. When we start to clear out the old gunk, I truly believe that we are making room for the better parts of our lives.
3. Add boldness, creativity, and trust to your pivots.
Every single structure, job, dynamic, or system that exists in the world today is because a human, somewhere, created it. It grew and built because more people believed in it, supported it, bought it, needed it in just the same way the founder did.
Today, more and more of us are coming to terms with just how much of our most intimate desires: self-care, mental well-being, financial prosperity, time with our children, balance, time off, creative endeavors, passionate and purposeful pursuits, and so on, are really at the foundation of our lives moving forward.
Many of us realize since the last two years of immense change and breaks in our worldly systems, just how much we don’t want to serve the systems that be anymore. We want jobs that we love and feel a true purpose in. We want communities, friendships, relationships that give to us just as much we as do, honor our heart’s desires, respect our boundaries and limitations, and also champion on our individual gifts, talents, and offerings.
We don’t want to be tired and self-sacrificing anymore. We don’t want to people please our boss or co-workers. We want to be in spaces that honor the interdependence of humanity and what it means to work together. We are realizing that we want systems and foundations that consider the wholeness of ourselves and other human beings.
We are all waking up to the realities that society started with humanity and that we have to get back to the primal, organic, natural, creative, and multifaceted needs that we encompass as humans. We don’t want to be different people in business, at home, in our communities, or education anymore. We want to take our authenticity into all areas of our lives and be honored for that. It is time to get back to the village. I’m pretty sure we all hear and see that call.
So, while dealing with all of the “what ifs” that may be incredibly daunting, just know that whatever dream you are launching currently can never be too big or unimaginable. And any vision you have will ultimately keep expanding until it’s far greater than you could ever possibly imagine. Ultimately, it will be much bigger and benevolent than any of the fears you faced in getting to that creative innovation in the first place.
4. Get to the energetics.
Letting go of anything is more than a mental process. It is often a deep, intimate, and personal process that relates us directly to our somatic experience. For me, getting in touch with skilled and trauma-informed psychotherapists, yoga instructors, massage therapists, energy medicine practitioners, and the like has reaped immense benefits.
When I am in the transition of letting go and building a new structure (on a micro or macro scale), I always need to work with my entire being. And trust me, I psychologically and energetically die and rebirth often.
Getting a massage helps me to release the memories in my tissues. Receiving reiki helps me to refine and retune my energy field to feel more uplifted and receptive of the new. Being with an energy medicine practitioner and psychotherapist helps me to get to the core roots of either my childhood or past lives and understand where the toxic patterns of attachment came from in the first place.
I often need my psyche, body, heart, emotions, feet, and nervous system to be massaged from any and all blocks.
5. Ask for help.
I know that receiving self-care is a luxury and not a basic need that everybody can drop into. I absolutely have lived through (and continue to deal with) the repercussions of being financially under-resourced when it comes to taking care of my trauma and health. I am not at all a foreigner to these struggles and privileges.
That being said, I ask for help. One of the other biggest challenges I have is admitting that I need an extra hand. As a single mother who refuses to be just a mother and who takes a great deal of pride in nurturing my own creative passions, career life, and well-being, I am often faced with unwelcomed and unsolicited criticism, judgement, and condemnation. The expectations we have from others often get in our own way of ever getting what we truly deserve.
Even worse are the expectations and limitations we place on ourselves. I seriously stopped shaming and guilting myself for not having all of the money and skills to support myself in my processes of letting go and moving forward in my life.
With that, I have learned to ask for help. I ask for scholarship opportunities with classes. I set up “go fund mes.” I ask how I can offer a service in exchange for another service or product. I find other ways to bargain, trade, barter, or simply receive donations when my health and well-being are at risk. I truly believe that we rise by lifting others, and that where we are devoid of something, there is somebody out there with plenty to go around until we can fill that space for ourselves.
In this process of letting go, ask for help. However that looks.
6. Take practical steps.
I’m talking about the mundane physical practical matters. Remove the abusive ex. Block their number. Leave the discriminatory job. Change your locks. Get an order of protection. Omit the cigarette. Implement an extra glass of water daily. Throw yourself into new learning opportunities, start exercising your skills and passions for the jobs you want. The small steps are a part of the entire staircase.
7. Watch for old patterns resurfacing.
Every time we pivot and draw the line while taking new steps, we are tempted back to the “old sh*t.” Sometimes these people and circumstances actually physically resurfacing offer us promises, raises, better opportunities, and so on. I always think of these as “ghosts of Christmas past.”
It isn’t an invitation to go back. It is simply an opportunity to observe your changes.
8. Allow yourself to feel everything.
Be with your purging process. Allow yourself to rage what didn’t work out. Allow yourself to grieve the parts of you that are long gone. Yes, this even means grieving the toxic relationships. It doesn’t mean that you want to go back, or that you need to go back. It just means that on a larger scale, you are ready for bigger changes, and sometimes our bodies have more to release to get there.
9. Add self-love on your to-do list.
When old ghosts visit, don’t be hard on yourself. Know that it isn’t something you did that made them resurface. It is simply part of the letting go process. It isn’t because you are weak, incapable, not learning, unworthy, or not doing any of it right. Our bodies just need to process the emotions of the past.
When this happens, make time for nurturing yourself. Take a salt bath. Light candles. Take a nap. Steep yourself some tea. Sit in the sunshine. Be unapologetically gentle and delicately loving with yourself here.
Whatever steps and initiatives you have made so far, big or small, celebrate. Have a small ceremony for yourself. Set up a dance session to rejoice. Meet with friends or communities who are involved and let them honor and celebrate with you. If you just signed up for the course, moved locations, found the new job, did tons of healing work, whatever it is, take the time to acknowledge it.
This is how your being is able to process that you are making changes. This is how you are able to reckon with yourself—just how big your genius and greatness really are as you not only take tabs but fully honor how far you have come.
I hope some of these tips work for you when the cycle of letting go becomes prominent in your life. It isn’t a one-step mental theory. It is a detailed, multifaceted, somatic experience that takes time.
Sometimes we just need that delicate reminder.