At the beginning of this year I found myself clicking on a little quiz I came across to “Find Your Mantra” for the new year. For the most part I am unable to resist things like this and it was no different on this occasion. I clicked through and answered questions and chose my preferences from selections of photos. I came to the end of the quiz and received my mantra, “Let It Go”.
Let it go. I mulled this over for a few minutes. It felt expansive and light. Very similar to the mystical, “Be Free”, of previous contemplations. Let it go. I decided I liked it. I thought about going into an app and writing this beautiful mantra over a beautiful photo and posting it as my facebook banner so I could be reminded and somehow inspired. But, then I felt like that was rather diminishing to a mantra. Even if I had received it from an internet quiz. It was ringing somewhere deep inside me with absolute truth. And, in my heart, I felt like it was something I could really take on as part of my path and my growth. I was trying it on and it felt like a great fit. Little did I know. I underestimated the power of this mantra.
At that time, I felt like it was pointing to my perfectionism. The need to always get things just right. And, of course, as perfectionism goes, usually results in doing nothing at all. For fear of doing it “wrong” or not being good enough. Letting my own judgement of things I’ve not yet done stop me from ever starting, or finishing, things that originally inspired me and lit me up. So, at first glance, “Let It Go” felt like a way of saying, “Lighten Up”, stop being so hard on yourself. And that was true.
There are so many ways to interpret these 3 little words. It could also mean don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t get upset over a stranger who scowls at you or someone cutting you off in traffic. Let go of a little misunderstanding with a family member. Shake off the rising anger over a co-worker who always manages to turn everything into a personal drama. Some things just don’t matter at the end of the day and it’s better to let them go.
And, “Let It Go”, can go much deeper than lighten up or shaking off small injustices. It can be about letting go of things that are not serving you. Big parts of your life. Things that feel very familiar, and even comfortable, but are not in your highest good. And, letting go of those things doesn’t usually feel so good. I mean, really, how often do we say, “Oh, that? I just let it go. It didn’t suit me anymore”, with relaxed ease and grace? You only have to “Let It Go” when it’s something that has been a significant part of your life. It could be a job that is out of alignment with your values, an unhealthy way of eating, a destructive pattern of spending, an unloving relationship or any number of things that either in an instant of awareness or slowly over time, become clear that it’s a pattern or relationship or way of being that no longer suits you or serves your highest good. Does that mean it’s easy to let go? No. No, it doesn’t.
Usually, even if something in life is not serving our highest good, it is still serving us. It is filling a need. Whether it is conscious or not. And letting go is just another way of saying, “this has to change”. Change means going outside of our cherished comfort zone. And that is not easy. Although, it can be exhilarating. But, before we get to the exhilarating part let’s talk a little more about the first part of change, which is the letting go part. And when we let go of something that has been filing a need the first thing that happens is we start to fully feel that need.
Let’s use the example of eating sugar. It feels good. It tastes good. It leaves you feeling full and, for a time, satisfied. But, it also causes an energy and mood crash and destroys your long term health. But, it’s filling a need. It’s not a nutritional need – it’s filling an emotional need. In this example, let’s use the need to feel love. You feel lonely and reach for sugar. It’s a treat, it tastes good, it’s comforting, it’s (temporarily) satisfying. Then you crash. You feel worse. You reach for sugar again. The sugar can never meet the true need. The need for connection with another person (or yourself). But, to do that, first there has to be a letting go of the substitute and feeling the unmet need. It can be scary stuff.
The next step of the process is creating a new way of being, finding a new relationship (maybe with yourself) – basically, filling the need with something that serves us in a healthier, more loving way. This is different for everyone and the choices are as diverse as each individual person. But, exploring new ways of being is where the exhilaration comes in. Feel those butterflies, stretch your wings and see what lies on the other side of your comfort zone. You know where the comfort zone is and, the truth is, you can always come back to it. And for a time you will most likely go back and forth between old and new behaviors. Until you find new ways of being that fill you up in a much deeper and more loving way.
For me, the bigger lessons of Let It Go are still unfolding. And it has to do with opening my heart and expressing vulnerability over closing off and staying safe. And I’ve found that when I change there is a ripple effect in my life and relationships. We can’t control how the people around us react to our new ways of being. And there is nothing more powerful than honoring what we know is in our highest good. Honoring our highest good creates a life that reflects the love and beauty that is the truth of who we are.
I recommend that anyone in this process reach out for support. There is no need to go through this alone. Whether you go to a church, a local meditation class, a support group, find a great therapist or healer – there are many ways to get support when making changes, big or small. And if you feel a connection with my teaching, I am here to support you.
Above all, know that you are loved.