Sometimes the best thing we can do is let go
Before we talk about releasing and letting go, let me start by commending you for surviving the last three years.
Racism, sexism, fear of violence because of gender, skin color, and beliefs has left us burned out, unable to feel compassion for others, damn near destroyed our resilience, and for the first time, afraid to die, simply because someone may want to kill us because our views don’t align with theirs.
Each time I saw or heard about a person of color being murdered, fear came, followed by feelings of helplessness. I knew I had to do something, but I didn’t know what. How could one woman, who had led a pretty privileged life woman of color up until now, make a difference?
I wasn’t politically savvy, I wasn’t someone with massive amounts of money who could fund organizations on the level of Glennon & Abby, and I didn’t have a large platform to leverage. I was a woman, working in data and analytics who had always assumed a behind the scenes role to make what she was working on succeed.
But I knew I had to make a difference, so I started to explore what that meant. And in the end, I let go of everything I thought I knew, as well as who I was, in order to create something of meaning and matter that could make a difference.
It all started by Letting Go.
In order to create something that mattered, I started by letting go. What did I let go of? I let go of:
Letting Go of My Business
I burned my business to the ground.
- I closed a $398,000 a year data and analytics company. Why? Because I let go of any client who didn’t value women, people of color, or the LGBTQIA+ community.
- I had considerate and clear conversations with the clients who were left about how they were going to support employees during these last few years. More clients are gone.
- I refined the business model to not rely on retainers (which can disappear overnight) to be something I had more fluidity and flexibility in.
- I let go of doing any work for people who didn’t align with my values.
In the end, the majority of my business was gone.
Letting Go of My Ego and Perceptions
On a personal level, I went inward, I self-guided myself through a very non-linear discovery process to figure out who I was, what I believed, and what my role was supposed to be in the world.
- I went inward, and started to explore what I believed in on a spiritual level. It started with looking at archetypes, moved into my human design and my enneagram, and then on to how the stars aligned when I was born.
- I then had to have a knock down, drag out conversation with “God” (they/them) and myself. I read the religious texts created by the masters and mystics.
- What came from this was the understanding of who I was, how my purpose was influenced on a cosmic level, and what I was to be and do.
And from all this letting go, I ended up starting a completely new business, based on the VIP Day model, and in a completely new field than I was from in the first place.
Letting Go: Release What Mentally Weighs You Down
I know, a self-led discovery of purpose sounds fantastical. But I’ll also say it was hard. In it, I had to deal with a lot of unearthed trauma, built up over this life. Learning to let go wasn’t easy, but it was necessary.
What Does Letting Go Have to Do With It?
So what does letting go have to do with creating change, purpose, or building something new. It has everything to do with it. Let me ask you:
- How many times have you felt that you are holding on too much? Or doing too much?
- Right now, how do you feel like your mind is constantly processing the situations that are happening in your life right now?
- And do you find yourself at a loss of how to say no, let go of what you're “holding” on to, or get out of those situations?
All of this results in energetic buildup and pent up emotions. If you don’t release it, whatever you’re “holding” on to because it takes its toll. Negative beliefs become reinforced, sabotaging behaviors cause deeper harm, and eventually, the emotions manifest themselves physically in the body. (Que stress, autoimmune issues, and problems in your gut).
So How Do You Let Go, And How Does It Help?
I will not sugar coat this for you, letting go is hard. And many of us won’t do it until we absolutely have to. Why? Because letting go means we have to change, and change isn’t something the majority of love. Letting go allows us to be more objective, to relax, to reflect, and to heal. By loosening our grip on things, we allow ourselves to see the world with new eyes.
Letting Go Starts with Taking a Deep Breath (Breathwork Exercise)
Letting go, or exploring the idea of letting go or even what to let go, all starts with breathing. Yes, it’s that simple. So we’re going to do that together. Today, we’re going to use a simple breathing exercise that I use based on the Letting Go Breath created by Ashley Neese.
Please know, there is no timing or special techniques associated with this practice, I simply want to encourage you to breathe deeply, and intentionally. Let’s do it together.
- Stand up tall with your feet hips distance apart.
- Put a slight bend in your knees and let your arms rest at your sides.
- Close your eyes.
- Set an intention. For this practice, let’s make it, “I give myself permission to let go.”
- Now I want you to breathe in and out through your nose, two times. These are regular breaths, just to help you focus.
- Now, I want you to inhale deeply as you raise your arms to the sky.
- Now hinge your hips and release your arms to the ground.
- Bending your knees, exhale a giant sigh through your open mouth.
- Let’s do that 10 more times.
*If you can’t stand, then sit in a comfortable position, butting your hands in your lap or letting them stay at your sides.
Be sure to inhale and exhale as deeply as you can. You do not have to focus on perfection or technique, just breathing. Rest for a few moments, and notice how you feel. Put your hand to heart, and say, “I am proud of myself for giving myself the permission to let go.”
Most of our lives, we’ve been conditioned with a flight or flight response – always thinking about what to do next. The actions we should take. Letting go is the opposite of this, because we’re not trying to act.
By using our breath, we let our body and brain know that there is nothing that we have to act upon right now. We are okay right now, and that there’s nothing we need to do. It then creates some space for you to focus on what can be let go of next. I encourage you to journal your experiences after this.
Thank you for breathing with me. Now, if you like, we can explore letting go o f the stories we tell ourselves.
Letting Go of Your Story and the Stories You Tell Yourself (Journal Prompts)
The stories that we repeatedly tell ourselves about our lives, others, and the world can be very limiting and inaccurate.
Identifying and then letting go of our stories can often be quite liberating. It can also open us to new directions and possibilities in our lives. Even more importantly, they can help us overcome limiting beliefs that we have about our abilities to do something.
Now we’re going to examine the stories you currently believe about yourself, others, or the world. Question their validity, and practice letting go of them.
Find a quiet place where you can be undisturbed and have time to reflect.
Ask yourself, “What stories about myself or the world do I believe that keep me from being happy, trying new things, and doing what I really want?”
In order to discover your stories, think about how you introduce yourself to people or explain your actions, emotions, and history.
Once you have identified your story (or one of them), notice how it feels in your body when you believe it.
Also notice what thoughts arise when you believe this story.
Now, ask yourself who created this story and if it is accurate.
- Begin to imagine what it would feel like if you didn’t believe this story, and see how it feels to let go of it, for even a moment.
Observe how this feels in your body and mind.
- Ask yourself what you would do differently if you didn’t believe this story.
Throughout the day, whenever you are upset, ask yourself:
“What story am I believing right now?”
Examine whether this story is really true or if it is limiting and negatively affecting you. After you’ve written this out, how do you feel? What came up for you in terms of emotions? Did you notice any themes or patterns? Write about them in your journal.
So What Happened After I Let Go?
Well, I’m still on that journey. And you’re seeing the fruits of the work I’ve been doing right now. What I can say is that I live a calmer, quieter life. My anxiety is marvelously managed and I am happy with the new business model.
In his latest book, Living Untethered, Michael Singer said,
“I (my soul) lives in here (my body), my mind is a guest, I don’t have to listen to what it says, it’s never taken me where I wanna go. EVER. Your mind is stealing your happiness from you, in the name of giving it to you, it is taking it from you.”
Letting go got me out of my head. I no longer believe I’m not good enough to do something or that no one wants what I have to offer. It’s glorious to wake up each day not feeling like I’m betraying myself.
My life matters, and the work I’m doing helps others. Developing this belief, this KNOWING, as I like to call it, helps me create the ability to myself radical permission let go. Instead of pushing, I release. Instead of leaning in, I let go. And I will never stop this.
About This Practice
Changing or letting go of one’s story is commonly practiced in psychotherapy and other meditative/religious traditions. The method presented here was adapted from a practice created by James Baraz in his book Awakening Joy, Ashley Neese in her book How to Breathe, and Agapi Stassinopulous in her book Waking Up to the Joy of You.
Disclaimer: Letting go of your story can be difficult, especially if it has existed for many years. Be patient when working to let go of your story and remember to practice great self-compassion throughout this exercise. Also, it is not necessary to let go of your entire story. Just identifying and questioning the limiting parts of your story that do not help you is beneficial.
NOTES: If you are having difficulty letting go of your story, begin by just considering the possibility of letting it go and see how this feels in your body and mind.