The art of letting go

John Gull

In a healing path, there is no direct line to healing. There is no miracle cure that someone can give you and things will all be fine. It is a constant effort to find the place of continual acceptance which brings joy. Some equate the journey like an onion with multiple layers which we peel off one by one to expose the next layer. I rather think of the journey as a connected spiral that rotates upward. Each circle has items and many experiences we need to examine and decide whether we keep them or cast them off. On each spiral there are teachers, lovers and friends and those too we decide to keep or move on without. It is all natural and normal. If you do not cast off the things you no longer need the circle because heavy and will spin downward. The concept of casting things out of your current circle is known as letting go. It is the only process that allows healing from past hurts and disappointments that may clutter the path upward. It is necessary to move forward. But I want to include something that is crucial about letting go, because letting go is an art.
When people say “let it go” they mean well, but they are not the judge you need to listen to. Often someone may tell you to let go of something because you make them uncomfortable when you talk about it. Only you are the one that matters in the decision of letting things go. I caution anyone who has had a traumatic experience and works with someone who says simply “to let it go” and then expects that it will be accomplished so easily. The work is only started when you decide to let something go. The choice to let go is inconsequential as to the outcome of what you retain. See, every experience we have has a meaning, whether you choose to embrace that fact or not. To totally toss out some experience because it may have been a painful one is actually not going to ever happen. You cannot wipe out your life without consequences. You did live through the experience, it is your history. What needs to change is the reaction in the present moment. You cannot change what happened then; you can only change how you feel about the experience now. And feeling bad, angry, trapped, hurt, disappointed and so on to something that is over is wasted energy and will only slow the path to healing down. That is the work that takes time and effort and if you as lucky as I am, great support to help you.
There are things that have happened in my past that I have had to examine closely. They are not all nice and they are not all bad. The ones that had me in their clutches and were holding me back were the hardest ones to redefine. I cast off their hold, but not the lesson. I feel very strongly that what I have experienced is something set in front of me to learn about and then teach others. It has taken me over two years to grapple with their hold on me. And every day, something comes up new to work on. I accept that we are never truly done being human, which is what this is all about, until we are dead. But I have also learned new tools to deal with things that make the new challenges less traumatic. And that is because I do not bring everything from my past into my present. That is what letting go means. But I also do not tolerate or walk into the same situations. That is wisdom, and that too comes from letting go.

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