The Art of Letting Go

11/21/2016 01:25 pm ET

The falling leaves off the trees are a beautiful reminder of the importance of letting go:

"We need to shed our leaves to make room for new growth. The wind doesn't gently pull leaves off trees. Trees are more proactive than that. They throw their leaves off. Instead of calling this season "The Fall," if trees could talk they'd call this the "Get Off Me" season." ~Peter Raven

Letting go means acceptance for what is, instead of trying to change the outcome. Letting go means patience to free ourselves for what’s yet to come, even if we don’t see or understand it yet. But most importantly, letting go means forgiveness and healing.

Letting go is a powerful act to free ourselves not only mentally, but also in many other relieving ways. It can be a brilliant reason for change and start of a new chapter.

Here are some ideas of what I want to let go off this season; perhaps you do too:

1. Letting Go of Expectations

.. and I don’t mean only expectations towards others, but mostly of myself. It’s tough out there. We strive for perfection to land the perfect job, with the perfect boss and the perfect team. Of course, we only fit into this perfect job when we are absolutely perfect and always perform 100%. Now, how realistic is that?

It’s the perfectionist thinking which makes most of us sad and exhausted. You didn’t manage to go to the gym today after you had a long day at work, met with your friends, made dinner for your loved one, called your parents, got groceries, cleaned your home, fixed the sink, and walked the dog?

Who actually says we need to do it all? Let’s get rid of those expectations towards others, but especially ourselves!

“Perfectionists lack ‘the courage to be imperfect’. Yet perfection is a Utopian myth; it has no existence in reality.” ~ Rudolf Dreikurs

2. Letting Go of “Should”

I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of those “things you need to do before you die” lists that, in my opinion, are neither inspiring nor creative. The only thing that they create is pressure and even more ‘shoulds’ on our already super packed agendas. So what if I don’t want to climb Mount Everest or run a marathon?

The only think we should do is concentrate on what WE actually want to do instead of what others think or suggest we should do.

The same thing applies for ourselves. How many times do we think that our friend or partner ‘should’ do more of this, and shouldn’t believe or support that? That’s when I always ask myself, who says that I am always right and know what my friends should or shouldn’t do?

Exactly.

3. Letting Go of Self-Doubts

… because they are useless and don’t get me anywhere. If we would spend just as much energy believing in ourselves as we do doubting ourselves, we would finally ‘allow’ ourselves to strive and get what we want. In both our private and professional lives.

So what if a presentation isn’t the best you’ve ever given? You learn. What if your run this morning wasn’t your best time? You get stronger. What if that business deal doesn’t go through? You try again.

Anything is better than not even trying or not doing what we want because of that mean little voice in our heads.

4. Letting Go of Toxic Relationships/Friendships/Jobs

That’s a tough one, for sure, but we all grow and develop throughout the years. It would be sad if we didn’t. Sometimes people grow apart or grow closer together. Sometimes friendships develop in a one-sided nature, meaning that you or the other person keeps giving without receiving anything back, ever.

People change, so do you. Realizing this can help to reflect on a relationship (of any kind) and to finally let go if it is no longer healthy.

5. Letting Go of Things

… and clothes that don’t fit, serve or represent me anymore, and create stress. There is a reason why books about cleaning up and putting everything in order became bestsellers these days. We are swamped with new information each day, almost everything is possible. We can buy and do more.

However, ironically, those opportunities that are supposed to give us freedom, actually mean more responsibility, and too much responsibility creates stress, which we are actually trying to ‘get rid of’ right? We try meditation, wellness weekends or retreats, which are all nice of course, but how about we start in our homes and use de-cluttering and letting go as our meditation?

That will not only clear up our drawers, but also our minds.

6. Letting Go of What Hurts Us

There’s a story about a little monkey a taxi driver told me a few weeks ago:

During the monkey hunting season in India, hunters carved a small hole in a wooden tree stem and then placed a banana inside. Very soon, the monkeys would smell the banana and grab it to take it out of the stem. However, the hole is only big enough to fit their hand, but not the banana, so it cannot be taken out of it. So, if the monkeys hold on to the banana, they will be caught by the hunters, but if they let go, they will be free and survive.

A metaphorical reminder that we sometimes hold on to things, relationships or jobs even if they are actually no longer good for us. We go through struggles and let other people manipulate, hurt us or lie to us. We tend to lose our sense of self and look for someone to blame: us.

So let’s learn a lesson from the trees outside these days: let go and get rid of unnecessary leaves and get ready for a new, free, less-stressed and even happier self.

Karen Naumann
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