Releasing What No Longer Works

Taking some time to think about what is no longer serving us can be a life changer. When we feel stressed, discontented, or overwhelmed, we are experiencing indicators that something isn’t working. Some of the culprits that can keep us from moving into a life of contentment and peacefulness are possessions, habits, health, attitudes, relationships, and responsibilities.

A look into nature shows us that lizards and snakes shed their skins, and trees shed their bark because they have outgrown that skin or bark, and need to create new growth to continue a healthy life. We, too, need to shed what we have outgrown for our continued health. Clinging to the familiar is easier than letting go, but it stunts our growth to hold onto what is no longer appropriate for our job, stage of life, health, or current relationships.

When my husband and I moved to Florida, we chose a moderately sized condo that was just right for the two of us. Our Michigan home would not fit into our condo, so like shedding a skin we donated books, games, clothing, and furniture. The goal was to not bring more than we needed. After arriving we discovered we still had too much, which led to more donating, until we had what finally works for us now. We had to work through some of the emotional attachments we had to certain items collected over the years, but the lightness and freedom we felt in releasing things that no longer worked for this later stage of life was rewarding.

Physical baggage is easier to see and take care of than mental, emotional, or spiritual baggage. These can remain in the background, where unresolved issues slowly collect and build until, if there is no release, we reach a tipping point. Our body or mind may become ill. Releasing what no longer works is a necessary step to achieving improved health, a calm mind, and balanced emotions.

Let’s release playing the past over and over again, wishing things were different. We don’t need to be defined by our past — we can define our self by who we are now. Carl Jung wrote, “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” The past no longer serves us, so let’s release the fear that holds us back and embrace the present.

Let’s release relationships that we thought were going to be different than they are. It could be a professional relationship with a medical doctor or counselor that isn’t working. Years ago I was looking for a counselor and went through three before I found one that was the right fit. In our personal relationships, our spouse, partner, and friends change and grow over time, as we do, and sometimes that means we outgrow a relationship that is stuck in unhealthy behavior.

Let’s release grudges, anger, and resentment, and practice forgiveness. It’s a waste of time and energy to think we can control anyone else, so let’s concentrate on our own behavior. Hanging onto grudges, anger, and resentment is like being in jail with the key to get out and choosing not to use it. We can free ourselves by practicing forgiveness.

Let’s release ourselves from what other people think of us, and instead make our priority what we think of our self. We can’t live our values and at the same time live concerned about what other people think about us. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do is in harmony.” This quote reflects living our values, which is where life satisfaction comes from.

Let’s release calling ourselves ugly names when we make mistakes, and release the fear of trying something new. Trying something new and making mistakes go together — it’s how we learn to live life well. And how about lightening up and taking ourselves less seriously? Life feels so much better when we laugh, especially if we can laugh at our mistakes while we’re learning from them.

Although something may have been valuable at one time, it’s healthy to release it when it’s no longer needed. This is not a process that is done quickly — it’s a process that is repeated again and again over our lifetime as our bodies, relationships, and circumstances continue to change. We can regularly check in with ourselves to see if we’re carrying any unnecessary baggage. Traveling with too much baggage means we trip and stumble over what we’re trying to carry. It’s time to free our self from what no longer works. Ask yourself if there isn’t at least one thing you’d like to let go of and see if that doesn’t make a difference.

Until Next Time – Sylvia

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