It is never easy when a door closes – whether we are the one who closes it or it is closed for us; mostly because it entails saying goodbye to something or someone in our lives that no longer serves us but we have become attached to. It does not seem to matter if it has been good for us or not. We often have a difficult time letting go of things – things that haven’t brought us that much happiness, including an abusive relationship, bad habits or even negative emotions such as unforgiveness or bitterness.
However, the one wonderful thing about this time of year – when one is ending and a new one is just around the corner, is that we seem to want – even if it isn’t any easier – to actually let things go. In fact, we tend to almost look forward to saying goodbye to things and begin anew. We want to let go of bad eating habits, not-so-great spending methods, extra weight, even a not-so-great relationship or in some cases, an entire year that was not at all what we had hoped for or expected.
Whatever it is that we are saying goodbye to this year, it is important to remember that once we let go of anything, our hands are free to accept and receive many other, wonderful things. The problem is that we often perceive our open hands (or hurting heart) as signifying emptiness and we do not like this feeling very much.
Hence, we hang on to the closed-door while there is a perfectly lovely one we can walk through if we allow ourselves to do so. So why do we struggle so much in letting go of that closed-door as illustrated in the picture above? Understanding why we become so attached to things is crucial in being able to finally let go and put ourselves in a position to accept the new.
# 1. Understanding our Need for Attachment: It is very similar to a dog with his bone. My dog Jack is enthralled with his bone that I bring home and give him – so much so that if I try to take it away from him, even if it is to give him a new bone, he fights me tooth and nail – literally. Why? Well, Jack’s ancestors knew that scrap bones were hard to come by – dogs got fed last and if they were lucky they were thrown a bone once in a while. They never knew when their next bone was going to come. Hence, they would often go find a secluded location, dig a hole and bury the bone in order to ensure that it was never taken from them. The irony of this is that they didn’t allow themselves to really enjoy the bone in the moment and would sometimes even forget where they buried it; hence, preventing themselves from enjoying the very thing they were trying desperately to protect.
We may laugh at this example and yet, as humans, are we so different? How many of us receive a new toy, piece of jewellery or even a wonderful smelling candle or any kind of item and instead of wearing it or using it in the present moment, we place it somewhere safe and think, “One day soon, I will bring that out and enjoy it”. I am guilty of this myself when it comes to even simple things such as candles and bath gel. Whenever I receive these types of gifts, instead of allowing myself to enjoy them, I will often stash them away thinking that one day when I have time to myself to have a leisurely bath, I will dig them out and enjoy them. What most often happens is I find them a year later while I’m hiding my new stash of candles or I will find myself burning these wonderfully smelling candles when guests come over. Why is it that we will allow ourselves to enjoy things for the benefit of other people but often sacrifice ourselves?
#2. Identifying Things We Need to Let Go Of: The second most important thing we need to do is to identify the things and perhaps relationships that are no longer serving us. We need to sit down and make a list (yes, I am encouraging you to do this today – what better day than the last day of a past year?) of the things that we would like to get rid of and the things that we would rather not let go of, but know they are not healthy for us nor are they truly making us happy or serving us. It could be a list of very important things like a relationship or simple things such as old clothes or items that we have been holding on to thinking that one day we might use them. Begin your list and see what comes up – you may be surprised.
#3. Negative Attachment: Ask yourself: What is this negative attachment really doing for me? Chances are that rather than making you feel safe and joyful, you are feeling tired, anxious, unhappy about yourself and unable really to live a full life. While you may want control, this habit is making you totally out of control and making you live in hardship rather than peace. You may want love, but this relationship is making you feel unloved and if you are honest with yourself, you know it won’t change. (Practical and Spiritual Tips for Letting Go of Unhealthy Attachments by Jade Mazarin)
#4. Discovering Yourself in the Process: Everything we hang on to serves us in some way. For example, we even hang on to “stories of our lives” which are evident when we hear ourselves say, “Oh that’s the story of my life!” or “That’s just my luck!” or “Why does this keep happening to me?” I wish I could tell you that you just have bad luck or these are random things that happen to you; but the truth is we create everything and everyone if our lives; so that if we have something or someone in our lives that we find less than desirable, we have attracted them for one of two reasons.
We have the same need/issue/emotion within ourselves. For example, every time I would go out dancing with my girlfriends, I seemed to attract really annoying people – the kind of guys who would grind next to me, bump into me and hit on me even though I wasn’t interested in them at all. I used to say, “I am a freak magnet”. And guess what? I kept attracting them! When I began to realize the emotion that was evoked within me – mostly frustration and sometimes anger, I began to realize that something within me was frustrated and angry. I was perhaps still angry at an old ex but because I was no longer able to express this anger to him, I continued to attract guys I could become angry at in order to work out this unresolved feeling.
The problem with this subconscious method of working emotions out is just that – it is in our subconscious and we are truly not aware of what we are doing. Hence, we continue the same thing over and over. The most empowering thing we can do for ourselves when we realize we are experiencing the “same story” or “experience” over and over, is to look within (not without at this annoying person or situation) and ask ourselves, “Okay, what is the emotion that keeps coming up for me?” and then ask ourselves this, “who am I still mad at in my past?”
The second reason we continue to experience similar stories in our lives is that believe and speak what I spoke out: “I am a freak magnet”. As long as I believe that many guys are freaks and I am a magnet for them, I will continue to attract them. The interesting thing is that I stopped speaking this “story” over my life, worked out my anger and rarely do I ever get approached by these types of people. If I do, I recognize, “oops, I still must have a little residual anger or frustration going on within me” and begin (once I’m home from having my fun dancing of course) to work on getting it up and out of my body! How do we do this?
#5. Unresolved Emotions: Okay, great! We’ve discovered feelings from the past that are still creating the same stories for us today, but how do we let go of them? There are several, practical ways one can actually release stuck emotions and finally be free of them. We have to find the method that is right for us but I am going to list the top five methods that I have found to work well and fairly quickly (remember that we cannot jump over, go around or evade our feelings – we must plow through them – it is the ONLY way to be truly free of them).
#1. Reiki. Find a reiki practitioner (one referred to you by a close friend or colleague is usually good) who can help us, not so much through talking, but through energy work in our bodies by getting to the heart of the stuck emotions and releasing them in a safe, effective manner. Many reiki masters will encourage us to do a little talking so they can get a sense of where and what we are holding onto emotions, but unlike traditional therapists, most of the work done is through energy work in our bodies. As long as we only “talk” about our emotions, we remain in our heads. We need to get in touch with our bodies.
#2. E.F.T. This stands for Emotional Freedom Technique. It is tapping on a series of pressure points (much like acupuncture) on our upper body (head and collarbone) while saying a series of statements that are true for us regarding our emotions and then beginning to state what we want to see and feel in our lives. I will not go into a lot of detail here about E.F.T. but I have used it (you can visit E.F.T. practitioners in your community) and the great thing about it is that it is one of the easiest methods in which you can help yourself move through stuck emotions and be free. Although you may feel silly doing it the first or second time, believe me, you will get over this resistance once you see and feel how beneficial and easy it is. There are many reputable people who can teach you and demonstrate the technique on the internet. I have found many on YouTube that can walk you through the technique working out any number of issues.
# 3. Exercise: Any kind of movement whether it is traditional exercise, yoga, using a punching bag (really great for anger issues as you visualize the person or think about the situation that has angered you) or even dancing can help us to move and release stuck emotions. Again, you have to do some research or experiment and discover what is the best form of exercise for you. Even walking while expressing your true emotions can be powerful. Sometimes, I walk and punch my arms out in front of me while saying to the person I am angry at, the things that I would have liked to say to their face. The most important thing is to first be honest about your feelings and then express them.
#4. Forgiveness: Once you have identified the emotions and expressed them, we must be willing (not necessarily able in the moment) to forgive and let go of this person or story in our lives. This is why I highly recommend one uses techniques such as Reiki or E.F.T. because even though we can “talk” through an issue; sometimes anger, hurt and bitterness is deeply ingrained in our bodies and these techniques will focus on our body, not just our head and our thoughts.
Unfortunately, many times, we cannot reason our way to forgiveness and letting go – we must first go straight through the emotion. If you believe in God or a higher power such as the Divine Universe, sometimes a simple statement such as, “Please God/Universe/Divine Creator help me to forgive this person as I cannot do it on my own. Show me or put in front of me ways in which I can reach forgiveness.” There is something very powerful in the WILLINGNESS to forgive that helps us along the journey. Do not worry about the “how” as something greater than ourselves, when “it” hears that we are simply WILLING to forgive and move on, will move heaven and earth to help us do this even if it’s just putting in our path a person or situation that will help us – just be open to seeing that person or situation when it appears for you as it WILL appear!
#5: Beginning Anew: Once we have done our “work” or “exercises” to work through our emotions, the best part – the most exciting part is to begin to see all of the open doors around us. In fact, many doors will have been open the whole time except that because we were so stuck in our old emotions – holding on to that handle of the closed-door so tightly – that we were unable to see the other open doors around us. Begin to imagine what those doors would look like and what sign would be on them such as “New Friendships” “New Loving Relationship” a “New Job” “New Insight” “New Invitations and opportunities for Fun”.
Whatever it is we are looking for is always right there waiting for us – we just can’t always see them which makes letting go of that closed-door so frightening. What if there is no one else to hang out with? What if we never meet anyone else? What if no one else will love us? What if that new job never comes? and so on. The best way to reassure ourselves that these “new doors” will open is to remind ourselves of how many doors we have already closed – or have been closed for us over the span of our lifetime and how many new doors have always opened. The best way to see our future is to let go of the past, but we can always use it as a GPS to get where we are going and to not repeat the same stories and end up in the same location.
Now, close your eyes and see whatever doors you have been holding onto, for whatever reason finally closing. Then, turn yourself around in your mind’s eye and imagine all the new doors that are opening for you and allow yourself to put your hands out and receive whatever they have for you. As Adele says in her famous song, “Throw your soul through every open door”! What a great way to live!
Happy “New” Year and blessings as you begin to forget about all those old bones that you’ve finally buried and begin to get excited about all the new ones that will be given to you. The thing to remember is that if I, as Jack’s master, would never take away one of his old chewed bones if my intent wasn’t to give him a brand new, whole one to chew on (as I am always looking out for his best interest and I am only human), than how much more is our God/Universe/Divine Creator who is Divine Love, looking out for us? However, just as our Divine Creator wants to endow us with the new, he/she cannot until, like Jack, we are willing to let go of that nasty old bone! : )