Many of us have said our thank you’s, goodbyes (or good riddance), and let go of some things that happened in 2016 and are quickly embracing the promise of 2017. With a fresh, new year ahead of us, we all know there are things we need to let go of before we can forge ahead. In order to become unstuck in life, we have to learn how to let go. But, most of us are humans and letting go is a really hard thing to do.
Letting go of both good and bad things is highly uncomfortable. It can be people, ways of thinking, habits, fears, or anticipatory worries (worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet). With people, we’ve formed bonds, forged memories, and unless you are kind of cold-blooded, letting go generally isn’t second nature. Often times, we prefer to feel stuck, secretly sad, silently suffering than to grow the frijoles needed to make the break. We’d rather suffer just to avoid the explosion and pain of conflict that arises when you try to let go. With habits and everything else, it’s letting go of things that bring comfort, that make us feel protected, or sometimes, it’s letting go of the battles in our own minds. It’s all about letting go of things that no longer serve you or bring any level of joy or fulfillment to your life.
If you haven’t heard of Brendon Burchard yet, you need to get him on your list of people to Google. He’s a #TeamTeri favorite if not our #MCM but every day. In fact, he’s a pivotal source of what drives us, cheers us up, motivates us, and inspires us to live a better, fuller life. In other words, he’s the catalyst for all the positive changes we’ve made in our lives. If you are feeling stuck in a situation, with someone you know who isn’t good for you or crazy enough, someone great but not great for you, it won’t be easy, but it’s not impossible to let go. This video by Brendon Burchard on letting go (and how to do it) inspires the tips below on how to successfully create an “exit strategy” for the people, thoughts and things that you need to let go of in your own life.
What did you learn from this event/person and how will you move forward?
There are events in the past that have hurt you, possibly even ruined your life. One of the toughest things to do is to draw something positive from that past when you let go. It takes an enormous amount of courage, strength, and forgiveness to get to this point. In order to fully move on, it’s not about who’s to blame, but more about what you learned. For everything you are letting go of, think of something great you learned about that person, the event, and yourself.
Then, once you’ve come to that realization, you can ask yourself how you want to move forward. Most important, how will you treat yourself differently? It sounds self-centered because it actually is. You are letting go in order to better your life, not the situation, event, or person you are letting go of. Maybe in the past, you didn’t take care of your emotional well-being, you didn’t stand up for yourself, or you didn’t set boundaries. So now that you’ve let go and set yourself free, you can make pledges to take care of yourself better and be more vigilant in the future.
How will you treat others?
This is the question that Brendon says becomes a life-changing moment for many people. When unfavorable things happen to you, you have two choices. You can go around being angry at the world and close yourself off to everything by building a wall around you. Or, you can forgive but necessarily forget, and vow to never treat anyone else like you’ve been treated in the past. That’s where empathy is learned and where you actually grow as a person. The whole notion of “rising above” is being positive despite the horrendous situation and becoming a better person even if something (e.g., a friend, a spouse, a life situation, a job, or a mental health struggle) tried to destroy you.
A personal example here that I can give is related to motherhood. Not everyone hits the ground running and some moms actually go through rough times. From sleep deprivation, colicky babies, guilt, anxiety, failed breast feeding, and failed everything. Then, on top of all of that, throw in all the comparing we do to every other perfect mom out there. It can be very hard. I’ve had to distance myself from otherwise great friends who just had it much easier than me and couldn’t sympathize with any one of my struggles. When you’re feeling desperate by asking how they are producing so much breast milk and whether it’s ok to give formula, but they tell you that formula will kill your baby or worse yet, “just try harder”. Then they tell you their newborn is sleeping through the night at 2 weeks old. That kind of exchange, regardless if it’s not meant to hurt you, can break you into a million more pieces. I decided I needed to let go of them for my child’s sake and my own sanity. When I realized that wasn’t the support I needed and that 2 week old babies sleeping through the night is seriously not real, it was freeing. Then, I vowed to never say any of those things to moms with new babies, be it their first or fifth, because when someone tells you that kind of information, they want you to listen and not say anything boastful in return for comparison.
What do I want for my future?
This is the question that Brendon says becomes a life-changing moment for many people. Once you’ve decided to let go, it’s time to look to the future and determine what you want to do your shackle-free life. The possibilities are endless now. You’ve literally done something so courageous that not many people are able to do. So, celebrate and then make some big plans for yourself. Make a list, refine it, then build a plan for this new life.
For me, it was to find a new support group of moms who didn’t impart so much guilt, pressure, or judgments on me. Once I found them, I was able to become the parent I thought I could be, the kind who keeps their children alive and was able to deal with most things without so much guilt.
Focus on other things
You’re fresh from setting yourself free but there’s still some pain and doubt. It’s natural and common to wonder if you’ve done the right thing. There’s only so much time you should spending doubting yourself since there was a big reason to let go in the first place. The best thing to do now is to fully let go and focus on something else in your life that you can improve. What about bettering your health, moving forward in your career, spending better time with your children, becoming a better friend to your real friends, or strengthening and nurturing your overall well-being? There are so many parts of your life you can grow in and focus on.
In order to let go of something, you need to get more momentum in a new direction. Making big strides towards a new goal is the easiest way to let go of the past. That’s because when you are gaining more momentum towards something else, you will automatically let go of all the heavy baggage holding you down. It simply comes down to the whole “ain’t nobody got time for that“.
Dealing with the Nostalgia
You’ve found new things to focus on but you are now feeling nostalgic again. The downfall of having this brain that sometimes works pretty well is that we have feelings attached to memories. That ex-boyfriend you thought was the one, the spouse you thought you’d spend forever with, that friend you kinda actually miss, or a place you used to live in. The best thing you can do is to honor this moment in time by embracing it. When you miss something, it’s not necessarily a bad thing nor does it mean you’re going to put yourself in that regressive situation again. It just means you’re a human being with memories and memories can be hard to shake. So, write things down or talk to yourself in the mirror and pretend you’re talking to that person or place. Honor that person or place, thank them for teaching you your new lessons, give them gratitude for helping you grow stronger after the tough times, and then say good-bye for real this time and let go again. Speaking from the heart in these situations will help your heart heal and keep your mind at ease knowing you’ve done the right thing for yourself.
What do you want to let go of in 2017 to make yourself and your life better? While some things aren’t as easy as removing a friend as a mom-friend but keeping them as an adult friend, know that while it may be hard, it’s not impossible. If you’ve still got a breath in you, nothing is impossible. You have one life to live and you shouldn’t feel stuck and miserable in it by keeping up appearances. Find a support group or person, carefully plan out the steps you need to take to set yourself free, and then execute those steps as best as you can.
Remember that you deserve to live the best life possible because you’re worth it.