The Secret to Letting Go

letting-go

“I think of the trees and how simply they let go, let fall the riches of a season, how without grief (it seems) they can let go and go deep into their roots for renewal and sleep…. Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember that nothing stays the same for long, not even pain, psychic pain. Sit it out. Let it all pass. Let it go.” – May Sarton

I went through a very difficult period a few years ago.

Well intentioned people around me would just tell me – you just need to let it go. Let it go!

This advice was useless to me.

I couldn’t let it go because letting go felt like giving up. It felt like telling myself it didn’t matter to me when it was all I could think of. The mere thought of letting go filled me with dread.

So I kept soldering on. I tried convincing myself that everything was OK. I tried positive thinking. I tried positive affirmations.

None of it worked. It only made me feel like a failure because there was a disconnect between what I felt and what I kept telling myself.
It was only when I allowed myself to feel sadness that I was able to let go of a situation that wasn’t working anyway and to start living in a much healthier way.

Sounds strange, right? Why would connecting to sadness actually help in letting go?

Because that is the role of sadness.

All emotions have a message they want to convey, a role they play in our internal village. 

The word emotions comes from the latin ‘movere’ or to move and that is what emotions want us to do – they want to move us to do something.

Sadness wants us to let go.

I see sadness is the street sweeper of our internal village. 

When sadness shows up, it helps us:

♥ To recognize that something is no longer needed or working for us

♥ It helps us release it

♥ And in doing so, it helps us make room for the new – to rejuvenate

Like the autumn trees letting go of dead leaves in order to rest in the winter and rejuvenate in the spring, we too are cyclical.

And when sadness shows up, it asks the question:

What no longer works for me and needs to be let go of? What needs to be rejuvenated? 

As Karla McLaren writes, “Sadness helps you slow down, feel your losses, and release that which needs to be released – to soften into the flow of life instead of holding yourself rigidly and pushing ever onward.” 

Every emotion shows up first as a physical sensation in our body.

We don’t just feel emotions as mental states but as body states first. And with sadness, when we allow it to be without resisting or fighting or numbing it – it helps us let go. Healthy sadness is a physical release, a relaxation, – and tears are also a way of letting go, of physically eliminating toxins and restoring flow.

Like the leaves of a tree, everything in life has its own time or cycle. 

What might have served at one point, worked well even, now no longer does. Sadness signals to us that it is time to let go.

Let go of things that aren’t working for us…

♥ like tension

♥ muscle tightness

But also 

♥ anxiety

♥ soldiering on behaviors

♥ thoughts, behaviors or beliefs that we are no longer working for us but that we are still holding on to

♥ a relationship or certain dynamics in a relationship

♥ a situation

Letting go restores flow. It allows us to make space for new ideas and needs and desires that are more connected to who we are right now – rather than holding on to outdated ideas or needs or beliefs or relationships.

So what happens in our village if we don’t feel sadness – if we try to not feel it or never allow ourselves to physically relax? Our village gets overrun with garbage. And who wants to live in a cluttered village that is overflowing with garbage? This can even lead to burn out or depression.

When you allow yourself to welcome your sadness instead of fighting it, trying to suppress it or distracting yourself from it, you allow it to sweep away what no longer works for you.

We think sadness wants to steal something from us or to hurt us and that we have to fight it or protect ourselves from it. Yet the willingness to feel sadness is the secret to being able to let go. And it is only when we let go that we can rejuvenate, that we can make room for new, vibrant, beautiful leaves – leaves that reflect who we are today.

So as much as possible, can you stay open to your sadness and simply notice:

What must be released?

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What must be rejuvenated?

And next time you feel sadness instead of resisting it or trying not to feel it, see if you can breathe in deeply and let go of tension as you exhale. Let your body help you work with your sadness and notice how much more flowing and vital life becomes.

Allow your street sweeper to do their job.

In the hero stories, the call to go on a journey takes the form of a loss, an error, a wound, an unexplainable longing, or a sense of a mission. When any of these happens to us, we are being summoned to make a transition. It will always mean leaving something behind…The paradox here is that loss is a path to gain. – David Richo

Inspired by The Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren + Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Below are some photos of the recent yoga + psychology event in the park with Marisa of Wild.Happy.Heart.

yoga-letting-go

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2 Comments

  • Nesrin on Oct 05, 2016 Reply

    Great post Hiba – I love the way you relate the emotions to the cycles of nature and also love your street sweeper visualisation of sadness in your village.

    • Hiba on Oct 05, 2016 Reply

      Thank you Nesrin, I’m glad it spoke to you!

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