When I think of my past, I want to forget. There are too many cringe-worthy moments I feel embarrassed about. The girl I was a decade ago is not the same girl (or woman) that writes this. My initial instinct is to block it all out and deal with my former times only when I'm triggered. It’s time for me to face my buried feelings and really, truly, and honestly let go.
Things I’m letting go:
1. Previous relationships
I don’t want to rehash feelings for the sake of dwelling on them. They’re gone and if it were up to me, they would never come back. The truth is, I’m still dealing with the pain I experienced during and after some of these relationships. They still affect me in turn impacting my loved ones. Interestingly, my relationships now are so different from the ones I experienced; the ones I learned from.
How to let go: Understanding that the relationships that turned out not so great exist for the purpose of learning. They don't have to be what we base our current relationships on, but they allow us to see what we want and don't. It is a learning curve. A painful one, but it's necessary.
As a woman, there are expectations I need to uphold. I am expected to keep it all together and look good doing it. I am expected to be slim and healthy while making everyone happy by eating big meals. I am expected to make others happy. I am expected to be happy. It's overwhelming. Truthfully, I know, no one actually expects me to do anything. If they do, it's not my problem. I can't do everything, it's not possible even though it might be assumed of me. Expectations aren't limited to what others have on me, it encompasses expectations I have of myself. I expect I can do a lot. The reality is that I can't do it all without feeling overworked.
How to let go: I want to come to understand many of the expectations I try to abide by are those that I have been unconsciously conditioned to believe. I'd like to be better equipped to discern expectations that have come from others and those I have put on myself.
When I don't have control, I get stressed. Even when things are obviously out of my hands, I try to find ways to regain authority. I want to control my time, activities, how I'm feeling, how I am perceived, and how my interactions go. After stressing out, it finally dawns on me that whatever it is I'm stressing about is out of my control. I'm usually too late because I've already invested a lot of my time and energy into attempting to control the uncontrollable.
How to let go: Develop understanding that not everything can be controlled. I can exercise as much control as I want in the things that are within my power, but there are things that I need to have faith in letting be.
I carry a lot of resentment around with me even though it's not relevant anymore. I feel it in specific events in my life. When my mom read my diary, when an ex-boyfriend shouted at me in front of all of his friends, when I was called vain, when I was told I was getting fat. When I was told I had no class. When I was told I was getting too old to do anything important. I want to let go of the bitterness I attach to these comments. I cling to it, because it allows me to avoid dealing with my emotions. It gives me a reason not to move forward; the feeling is familiar and I'm afraid of who I might be without it. Harbouring resentment is toxic and deters me from developing into the woman I want to be.
How to let go: Realize that there is so much more beyond the resentment. There is so much more that I can't access if I'm still bitter over things that have already happened and that I can't change. There is a better me beyond all of this.
5. Proving Myself
Deep down I incorrectly believe that in order to be loved and accepted I need to prove myself. The bible specifically says,
“For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 TEV)
I have it drilled into my head that I should be doing more in order to prove myself. The things that I feel I should be doing are never things that I would naturally do. They are things that others do, and do really well but they are not me. If I were to act on these "shoulds" they wouldn't be coming from a place of love or generosity, they would be coming from a place of proving myself - that's not right.
How to let go: What am I trying to prove really? Who am I trying to impress? It doesn't matter if I can't get approval from someone based on what I do and don't do. Human beings are incapable of unconditional love, if I'm looking for that in someone I'm not going to find it. It's a losing battle.
6. Self-Limiting Beliefs
It's easy to give into the belief that accomplishing a goal is too hard therefore the effort is never given to the task. I'm doing much better at this, but for a long time I was under the impression that happiness and the ability to achieve a goal was too difficult - so why try? It is in our failures that we change, not necessarily when we are successful. Michael Jordan once said, "I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying". To try is to be successful, this is one of those things you realize as you get older.
How to let go: As above, Michael Jordan. Enough said.
I used to suffer immensely from FOMO, or "fear of missing out". I'm getting over it, but it's still a staple in my everyday rotation of negative emotions. Since reducing my time on social media, I've noticed a huge decrease in how much I care what other people are and are not doing. I still catch myself in moments of FOMO, but I've slowly started to chip away at its presence in my life.
How to let go: Take account of the things that I do in my everyday and stop comparing my life to the online versions of others. It's important to understand that everyone's perception of success and fun are different. Reduce time online!
This is one of my biggest challenges: I'm not a competitive person by nature. When it comes to games and sports I don't care that much. When it comes to myself I am VERY competitive. In exercise classes, I am driven by competition. When it comes to other people and how I gauge my successes and achievements I'm very competitive. I fear that if I bequeath my competitive nature I will lose my motivation and won't be viewed as a disciplined person.
How to let go: My motivation for doing things needs to come from a different source. My competition needs to be a positive driving force instead of a negative feeling.
When I think about some points in my life, I tend to feel ashamed, embarrassed, sometimes sad and angry. This doesn't hold true for all of my past - I have a lot of good memories and experiences too. I have two options: try to forget about my past and get over it that way (like I've been wont to do), or attack the feelings head on knowing they're still going to linger and will at some point cause issues like usual. I'm taking the hard way and hopefully I'll never have to write another post like this ever again. No more dwelling.
[At the time of publishing all drafts for this post were burned as a method of cleansing.]
Photo Credit: Coyote Negro Tumblr