Everyone has at some point in their life experienced the need for letting go of something or someone. Letting go of the old and moving into the new is just part of life. Maybe it’s a job, a beloved, a home.
It’s painful, yes. Energy draining, yes. Crazy making, yes.
Letting go can feel like the fast lane to insanity. Even when we have a sneaky sense it could lead to something even better.
“Holding on is believing that there’s only a past; letting go is knowing that there’s a future.”
Daphne Rose Kingma
I’m writing about this not from a professional or psychological point of view, but from the patterns I’ve seen over and over in my own life.
Turns out there are definite stages in letting go. Sometimes it’s possible to skip over a couple of the stages, and sometimes it’s slow steady progress through all the stages.
Letting Go Stage One: Can’t See It
In stage one, the idea of letting something or someone go is the last thing on our minds. Even when there’s chaos and turmoil and frustration, we’re fine, thank you very much.
We just don’t see it.
Scenario 1: a new job. When we start the new job we’re really excited. It seems perfect. We like the people, the manager seems easy to get along with, the pay is good, and the team seems friendly and competent.
The honeymoon is great!
But then things start to change. We find out we have to do a lot of overtime, or our team is not as friendly and motivated as they seemed at first, or we find out that Joe doing the same job is being paid a lot more for the same work.
The moment we consciously see, it leads to stage two.
Letting Go Stage Two: See It Admit It But Can’t Act On It
This has happened to me with several friendships.
Scenario 2: the ending of friendship. Some friendships are the kind where we can be out of touch for ages and then the next time we meet or talk we can pick up right where we left off. And some friendships are the kind we outgrow, the kind where staying in the friendship costs too much in terms of our growth or values.
At this stage we can admit there’s a problem but we can’t act. Not yet.
The inner conversation sounds like this.
- There must be something wrong with me that I don’t feel connected any more.
- If I end the friendship my friend will be so hurt, how can I tell her.
- Maybe if I just wait a while, things will get better. It could be just a phase.
In the meantime, everything inside us is shutting down whenever we’re with the friend.
This is just one example. The same thing could be happening in primary relationships, work relationships, or any other life event.
What do we do?
Letting Go Stage Three: Why Did It Take So Long?
At this stage we might ask ‘why did it take so long to admit the problem to myself’?
It’s important to remember that we saw it when we were ready to see it. Not before.
One important step here it to forgive ourselves for any self-judgment or judgment of others. We are always doing the best we can at our current level of awareness, and forgiving is an essential part of letting go.
Another important step here is to take the time to gather strength and not take action one second before it feels right. This is not the time to push through.
It’s a time to feel everything we need to feel about what’s happening. If it’s a major event, like the loss of a partner, we may need the help of someone who can guide us in the right way.
Letting Go Stage Four: Action
The action part of letting go is going to be different for each individual scenario.
It can look like one simple conversation that resolves the problem. It can look like a series of conversations and actions that happen over a longer period of time and also lead to resolution.
It can also mean the only recourse is to walk away. Staying in a job we hate, or a relationship that’s harmful means we are not creating space for something better.
Never Miss the Weekly Post
Throughout the whole process of letting go, energy will ebb and flow. In one moment we feel totally capable and certain we can handle anything. The next moment a wave of exhaustion will threaten to knock us to our knees. This is normal.
In any scenario, we recognize it’s resolved when we have a true sense of inner peace and harmony.
Some Additional Tips
Life is always going to bring challenges that are meant to make us expand and grow. Certain things can ease those challenges and help us respond in a more meaningful way.
- Take as much time as needed.
- Have a creative outlet.
- Move your body so the energy doesn’t get stuck.
- Release blame or judgment, probably this will happen in layers.
- Allow for foggy days where you doubt or regret your choices.
- Choose one person to talk to but stop with just one. The stronger you become, the less need you’ll have to tell the same story over and over.
- Give yourself permission to rant. Find a private space and rant for 10 minutes if it’s not too serious, longer if it’s more serious.
- Stay the course.
When it’s over, look back and see how the event created good in your life.
What situation in your life right now is requiring you to let go?
On a scale of one to ten where one is not very serious and ten is extremely serious, how would you rate the situation?
Which of the four stages of letting go are you in relevant to the situation?
What would be the best possible resolution of the situation?
Whatever the situation that requires letting go, it will not be solved by the same person who initiated it. Your consciousness must shift. You will grow.
That’s the invitation hidden in every challenge.
One day you’ll reach the point where you hit a challenge and you’ll say, “Good, I must be ready to grow again!”