Many of our problems, pain and dis-eases are rooted in holding on too tight. To persons, the past, emotions, belief systems or behavior patterns. While it's often better for our overall well being to just let go. Every time I'm holding on to something, in the long run my body tells me. I get an infection, my inspiration for writing doesn't come to me naturally and I'm no longer standing in my power. Often we hold on too tight even though we know that the way we are behaving or the way we are thinking doesn't serve us. But why is it so damn difficult not to fall into the same trap again and again and just break the pattern we find ourselves in? And even more important: how do we get out of this continuous vicious circle?
Why changing takes time
Change is often difficult. We've been programmed a certain way by our parents, school, society or we've programmed ourselves in later life collecting all these belief systems about ourselves and the world around us and consequently we established behavioral patterns. During your lifetime you develop certain neural pathways, and the more we use those neural pathways over years and years and years, they become very solid and deeply embedded, moving into deeper portions of the brain. By the time we are an adult, we have so many existing pathways that our brain relies on, it’s hard to break free of them.
Besides, oddly enough, painful feelings can be comfortable, especially if they’re all you know. Change is always scary, above all when you don’t know what’s coming next. Sometimes we have trouble letting go of our pain or other unpleasant emotions about our past, because we think those feelings are who we are. In some ways, we don't know who we are without this pain.
But, don't let it disencourage you. Changing takes a little effort, but it can be done. At the beginning, you will find yourself repeating and repeating the same situation over and over again. The first step is being aware that the way you are behaving or thinking doesn't help you. And being willing to change. Step two is to just not do it anymore. And how more frequently you repeat this new behaviour or thoughts, how more normal they become. Sounds simple, eh? It is. For a reason they say:
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
So the solution is to do it differently. But from since we were little children society, our parents, school taught us that if you want to achieve something, you should work for it. In this case... working hard sometimes means not doing nothing at all. So don't text that toxic person in your life, don't grab that bottle of wine if life gets hard on you, don't dwell in your past, stop whatever it is you want to stop. And give energy to the things you do want. Whatever you give your attention to, grows. It's quantum physics.
I'll give you an example of my own life so you know what I'm talking about. I'm an extreme emphatic person, I'm also a high sensitive person, so I always know what other people's needs are. Sometimes before they even know it. And I'm always prepared to help them out. Lately I find myself in situations that I sometimes spend whole days helping other people, listening to their problems, offering solutions, accompanying them to important doctor's appointments. I became aware that this is not helping me as I'm trying to get my own life back on track after a period of illness. But when such a helpless soul crosses my path, it's in my nature to reach out. Nothing wrong with that. The world needs this kind of warm hearted people. But, I'm not making progress with my own life. There's where it gets nasty. So I realised this. It still went on for weeks; helping out, reaching out, thinking of others first. Until I was tired of it. I wasn't moving forward in my life, I wasn't putting effort in creating my dream life, I didn't come far with my own goals, hopes and dreams. And I got angry with myself. There's where it stopped. I wrote my goals for the week, put an app blocker on my phone to not get distracted, said no to people and focused on my own projects.
When you're in a similar situation and you know something isn't good for you, collect all of your willpower to break the circle you find yourself in. Make a conscious choice. And do whatever it takes not to repeat whatever it is you want to stop doing.
Ways to let go
There are several things you can do to change the situation.
- Call a friend. Ask him or her for advice. Or to help you find ways not to do whatever you are trying to get rid of.
- Write in a journal. Write down your feelings and your thoughts. Ask yourself questions and write down the answers: Are you reliving the same scene, over and over again? Why? What do you get out from it? How can you get out of it?
- Do meditations. There are several guided meditations on YouTube on how to let go.
- Hire professional help. Especially if you're having a serious problem like an addiction or you feel depressed.
Mindfulness is a good practice you can do at home that encourages intense self-awareness of the mind; it helps you to stay in the present, welcome all emotions, feelings and thoughts without judging yourself.
Personally, ayahuasca, a entheogen brew from the amazon, has helped me a lot to deprogram myself. It even helped me with my depression. There are several studies on how psychedelics like magic mushrooms and ayahuasca can help rewire the brain.
- Metaphorically throw your issue away; write down on a piece of paper what's not helping you and burn it. You can also write a letter to your younger self when you were a child. To let go of the past. Build a little ceremony around it with incense and candles.
Find what best suits you. And don't give up. You will notice, once you let go and I'm not saying it's gonna be easy, this becomes the new 'normal'. It's a matter of creating new neurological pathways. And everytime you get in this situation it will become easier. It could happen that you have a setback, relax, be gentle with yourself, take a deep breath and start over. It takes time, but you will get there in the end. Trust me! And you will get lighter and lighter by the day. And happier working towards the situations or people you do want in your life!
What are you holding on to that's no good for you? And what can you do to turn that around?