How to “Let Go”

By Helen Williams
For as long as I can remember I have said that if I ever found the time to write a book it would be called, Learning How to Let go. This has been a troubling question for me as it has for many people I have spoken with over the years. It’s always so easy to say, ‘just let it go’, to anything that we find painful, confusing, fearful and anxiety creating. However, is letting go really going to bring us the fulfilment and freedom we are seeking? I’ve completely changed my mind about this book title nowadays. I’m experiencing it quite differently instead.
Here are some good questions to ponder.
  • Is the demand to let go really serving us, or is it just another diversion, a way of ‘getting over’ something?
  • Does ‘letting go” actually bury something even deeper?
At our recent Mindful Living workshop our conversation formed around these questions and we asked each other what we really wanted to let go of. The answers were shared willingly and agreed upon by all as common to each one of us.
Grudges, people, the past, judgements, expectations, grievances, pain, rigidity, needing validation, feeling stuck, replaying old stories, fears, the future, obsessive and negative thoughts, clutter, difficult and uncomfortable emotions…….and on and on.
What if we were to see letting go as just adding to our shadow self, the inner storehouse of all we have disowned and cannot or do not want to understand within ourselves? Robert Augustus Masters calls this our unilluminated conditioning.
Rather than letting go of all the hurts, pains and grievances we hold within us, what if we were to illuminate them with the light of understanding? To cultivate intimacy with all that we are – all our wounds and pains. To see them as little children asking to be held, to be known and wanted and welcomed home, not banished into the other room, or into the forest forever like characters in a fairytale.
We spoke about learning to turn towards ourselves, to the lost, frightened and hurt parts of ourselves that we’ve been trying to let go of and to discover what could be our experience if we instead made a space for them, offered sanctuary to them and allowed them to release themselves from us when they are ready to. How uncomfortable would that be!
The wonderful psychologist, Susan David, says this: “Discomfort is the price of admission into a real life.”
There is a difference between pain and suffering she tells us. Pain is inevitable – suffering is optional. We can end our suffering by entering the pain – by being attentive to our bodies and cultivating a strong sense of what’s happening beneath the surface, by seeing our emotions as data and learning to read them for understanding.
So what does it feel like then, to realise that within the notion of letting go there lies an invitation within it? To turn towards and offer sanctuary to the parts of ourselves that are longing for us to hold them. Come and learn about this at our next Mindful Living workshop on Sunday 11 March. We will focus on Meeting and Understanding our Feelings. We’d love to see you there.

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