Tuesday, January 11, 2011

the art of letting go

Given my struggles with control, it only makes sense that the idea of "letting go" has been a difficult one for me to master. It seems that letting go (of a situation, person, emotion, or relationship) is a magic cure-all that will lead to fields of freedom and a newfound ease in your step. But how do you let something go? That has been wherein the difficulty lies for me. I have always wanted to be able to free myself of the heavy weights I've carried around throughout my life, but I've struggled to figure out what that looks like and how exactly to accomplish such a monumental task. Everyone is quick to quip "let it go!" but how many of us know a sure-fire and speedy method for doing so? And, I don't mean a method for suppressing, denying, ignoring or deluded ourselves out of reality; I mean truly working all the way through an issue, processing it, coming to a sense of clarity, and leaving it behind.

Let it go Print by Nan Lawson

I have tried meditation, yoga, self-help books, affirmations, running far away in complete avoidance, obsessing and indulging my feelings all day, and I'm sure a million more techniques, in an attempt to let go of what has become stale, boring, suffocating, painful, or unhealthy in my life. But, the feeling of release I've found has only gotten me so far, and doesn't seem to last. So, I recently decided that I needed to find a technique of my own that took into consideration who I am and what is symbolic to me.

Letting Go Print by A Bushel and a Peck

Being an artist, I am naturally a very visual person and I need to touch, see and create things myself in order to really understand them. I was never the girl who could sit in class, listen to a lecture, and leave feeling like I learned what I had just heard. I needed to write insane notes and outlines with my own made-up keys of symbols. I needed to read and highlight with bright colors. And I needed to draw pictures, mostly doodles, while learning. It took me awhile to realize all this, but once I did, I could miraculously learn just about anything and my grades reflected that.

What does this have to do with letting go? I recently realized that, just like learning lessons in school, I needed to learn life lessons in a way that was effective for me personally....and if I did, it would be possible for me to learn to let go of just about anything.

I combined my need to see, touch, create and write into a technique that has proved to be quite effective for me. I select an item that somehow symbolizes what it is I need to let go of--whether it's an item that reminds me of a specific time, relationship, or emotion, a gift from a former lover, or a picture. I sit down with the item in front of me and allow it to call up the emotions that I am trying to release, and then I write a letter. I find that there is usually a person involved in whatever it is that needs to be "let go." We operate on relationships so it only makes sense. So, I write a letter to the person that thoroughly and bluntly explains my feelings (including all the stuff I've wanted to confront and yell about), state what it is that I need to move on from, and I end with a positive and kind farewell (to the situation, not necessarily the person). I fashion the letter to the item and find a way to physically release it--tossing it off a cliff into the ocean, smashing it with all my strength into a dumpster, burying it, burning it, whatever works.

I can't say this will work for everyone, but I'd wager that for other visual individuals or "do-ers," people who need to physically do something in order to learn it, it can be a very powerful tool. I have found a great deal of lightness and freedom in this technique; and it continues to work into the future, because I have a tangible, visual memory of myself "letting go" that I can call up when I need to use it.

The point is, I think we can learn to do even what feels entirely impossible, if we approach everything in life knowing ourselves fully. The more we live and learn in a way that genuinely fits us, the more our lives can be filled with ease and a genuine sense of empowerment.

Be Free by The Colours of Life

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