There are two common phrases that, in my opinion, are grossly overused by well-meaning and well-intentioned people – “love yourself” and “let go”. Both of them can be as frustrating as hearing “Relax!” when you’re fucking relaxed. The road to hell and all that.
Jokes aside, they are both super important to our growth and we hear them all the time, yet not many can tell you what they look like in practice.
You can say you love yourself yet it means nothing without actions to back those words up. What are you doing to show yourself that this is, in fact, true? Are you honouring your body with what you are feeding it? Are you honouring your mind with the thoughts you are having? How loud is the voice telling you that you shouldn’t be doing something yet here you are? How long have you been promising yourself change and a year later find yourself in the same place?
Over the last few years, it became clear to me what “loving myself” looks like and I’ve written about it – here, here and to a lesser extent here.
However, letting go is something I recently started to unpack. What does it look like? What do I have to do to put it into practice? How can I make my actions match my words and intentions?
Like everything in life, letting go is a process not dissimilar to the process of learning to love oneself. It unfolds organically, along with the natural curve of the spiral, showing us the next step around the corner only when the timing is right.
First, you need to name what it is you need to let go of. Whatever isn’t serving you in the present moment – a (past) relationship, a friendship, a job, a bad habit or toxic thoughts. Whatever it may be, name it. Don’t resist. Look at it. Familiarise yourself with it. Ask yourself how it came to be like this. How did you create this experienece in your life?
Accept that it is in your life in its current configuration and form.
Then, write a list of everything positive that came from this situation. What did it teach you? What did it help you to see – about yourself, about life, about the path you are on?
Finally, thank the universe for the experience.
Once we truly accept what is, it creates space for powerful transformation – sudden and without resistance.
It is important to send an energetic message to the universe that we are ready to let something go. Rituals have been performed since the dawn of time and continue to exist – weddings, funerals, christenings, ceremonies, birthdays.
Some people create art, write poetry or create music to help them heal, work through and eventually move on from a situation. Some people start a bonfire and burn anything belonging to their ex. Some write letters to toxic parents, attach them to beautiful lanterns and let them fly into the twilight sky. Some quit their jobs and move countries.
And some people hold a ceremony in the middle of a pitch black forest, dig a hole, say a few parting words, proceed to bury and burn some shit. Who said funerals can’t be fun? Whatever floats your boat. No judgement.
A ritual changes everything and nothing at the same time. You still feel the same. But you know something deep inside has altered and a shift towards healing has taken place. You have sent an energetic stamp to the universe letting her know you’re ready for the next step.
Don’t be cocky (like me) and think that the ritual will be the end of the process and you will go skipping into the world with joy and without a care in the world. It might happen for a day or two post-ritual but then reality kicks in. It’s just the beginning. You may feel sad, elated, relieved or angry. You may feel a combination of these things or feel nothing at all.
Let all of it come and let all of it go. Don’t attach any extra meaning to anything that may or may not be happening. Don’t over-indulge in the feelings and emotions of the situation.
Keep it moving with kindness and do not berate yourself for not being 100% OK. Do not allow not being OK to stop your life in any way. No excuses. You’re not a victim of the situation – you created it.
Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Say it out loud if you have to. Say it out loud a million times a day. It is easy in many situations to point the finger at another and say “YOU ARE THE PROBLEM! YOU ARE TO BLAME”.
Instead of going down that poisonous rabbit hole, send love and gratitude to the other people involved and to yourself. Seriously. Say it. Do it. Become it.
Do not let yourself be sucked back into the emotions, actions or habits which may slow or worse, derail the healing process. At this time it’s important to be consciously aware of anything and everything that may stop you from moving forward.
It may be as simple as a picture of your ex in your house or the smell of flowers which trigger a memory. It could be a sad as phuck playlist that keeps you in a swirl of unrequited feels. It might be changing gyms because you met the guy who broke your heart in the weight room.
Removing external triggers helps solidify this practice.
For some people, it may be quitting a job with clients they love because it forces them to visit a building full of memories which take them two steps back every time they enter, despite recently taking some steps forward.
Whatever. Just an idea. Not that I did that or anything.
Lastly, you must correct your thoughts. Correcting your thoughts is similar to correcting your body – through consistent repetition. When a thought comes up which doesn’t serve you, thank it and literally keep it moving by thinking about something else. Create new associations for words, smells, places and things.
When you see something that reminds you of your ex, TURN YOUR HEAD AND LOOK AT SOMETHING ELSE. It’s seriously that easy and that simple – it requires consistency and a little bit of discipline.
And then, maybe one day, in the future, you will wake up and realise that this situation is no longer the first thing on your mind. It may be the second, or the tenth.
And sooner or later it might not be there at all and you will be free.
It isn’t giving up, it’s letting go.