Many of us hear the phrases “let it go”, “let go of it”, “don’t hold on to it”, and the endless varieties of that concept. And then we wonder: exactly how am I supposed to let it go?
How? What is the process? How do I make it happen?
I wondered about it a lot. I had so much stuff to let go of. All sorts of things that I carried around like a heavy load on my head, my heart, my back.
As usual, I dug around the books and blogs for advice and guidance. I tried this and that. And then I finally figured out at this very process.
I have come by this the hard way – through first hand experience. Maybe, in here, you may find the Ariadne’s thread that you can hold on to and find a way out of the maze that keeps you locked in.
This method has worked for me so far. And the people with whom I have shared it with have reported back with really positive results.
So, here goes…
The Art of Letting Sh*t Go.
The TL;DR Version
For those not in the know, TL;DR = Too Long; Didn’t Read. This little bit is the version for those of you who don’t want to read through a very long article. And it is a long post.
Consider yourself duly warned.
- Acknowledge that you have accumulated all these feelings. Say it out loud that you feel those feelings. Scream it if you can — and sometimes you must!
- Communicate with someone you are close to, or if not, then talk to yourself or journal in a diary. Let it out. Both acknowledging and communicating can happen together as well.
- Root it out to its very start. Where did this pattern begin? When in your life did you start doing this? How did it all manifest at the different points in your life? Journaling really helps here. And this part does take a while.
- Visualize it in your mind. You know that you’ve already sort of started that process in the previous step. Now it is time to use this visualization to remove this accumulated stuff from your mind. (Below you will find two different kinds of visualization exercises that will help you with this step.)
- Replace it with another healthy habit that helps you remain positively occupied, and helps you take the next baby steps forward. (Below you will find a short list of some of the different healthy habits you might want to start out with.)
- Rejoice it and celebrate this letting go and embrace the healthy habit that you’ve now started.
- Imagine one day where you are free of these things from your past. Imagine how light and free and happy your day and life will be for that one day.
- Now that you’ve designed and imagined and visualized your perfect day, it is time to Live that day. Make it happen for real. Live like you’ve let it go. And truly experience all that you’ve visualized.
- And as this special day draws to an end, don’t let go of the beautiful, beautiful energy. Go ahead. Let this flow into the next and the next and the next. Live that week and keep it going for the next seven days.
- As the week draws to and end, keep on going. Let this week flow into the next and into the next. Live that month.
- Make it your new normal. Keep on going to the next month and the next month and the next month.
- Rinse. Repeat. Be tuned into your bliss. And in case there’s more such stuff that comes along, you will already be ready to let it go!
Life is all about the choices you make. You can choose to hang on to stuff, or you can choose to let go of the stuff that no longer serves you. What will you choose?
Had a look at the TL;DR version?
Still with me? Hungry for more?
Well then, scroll down. Let’s get down and dirty, and dig deep into the nitty gritty of what it takes to let sh*t go.
Step 1: Acknowledge It
Acknowledge that you have accumulated all these feelings. Say it out loud that you feel those feelings. Scream it if you can — and sometimes you must!
By saying it out loud, by acknowledging it, you are telling yourself that you have a certain issue that you need to now resolve.
This is the most powerful first step — this is where we accept and acknowledge that we have this specific thing or issue that we have been holding on to, and really wanting to let go of.
Many, many years are often spent in denial, and that is such a waste. So much potential is lost, gone forever. This step brings you back — it jolts you back — to reality. Both your feet are now on the ground and your head bows to your heart and listens to what your heart finally has to say. This is the best place, the right place to start.
Step 2: Communicate It
Communicate with someone you are close to. Alternatively, communicate with yourself via a journal or a diary. Let it out. Both acknowledging and communicating can happen together.
It is important to communicate what you’ve been keeping inside of you for so long. Letting it out is an important step towards moving forward.
I like Journaling. I love it so much. If there’s stuff you want to let out, but don’t want to tell the whole world, then your Journal is the best place to do so.
You can add in screaming time, crying time, and dancing time to this mix as well. Works tremendously awesomely for me.
It is hard for me to cry in the real world — too many people see that as a sign of weakness. So I cry by myself once in a while. I scream into my pillow. I put out loud music and dance till my feet hurt.
This step builds on the energy of the previous step — it tells your inner self that you are truly ready to move past this now. It helps you release the pent up feelings and lets you communicate all your feelings and thoughts to your inner self.
Step 3: Root It
Root it to its very start. Where did this pattern begin? When in your life did you start doing this? How did it all manifest at the different points in your life? Journaling (again!) really helps here. And this part does take a while.
Go deep. Go deeper than deep. Go as deep as you can and then some. Unearth the hidden archeological remains if you must and dust off the dirt from those old bones. What will you find there?
Discover why you had this issue to begin with. Is it an old pattern resurfacing? Is it something that has built up over time that you denied over and over again? Did you ignore the hints? Why did you deny / ignore it? What was the cause of that?
Maybe you need some therapy. Maybe you need to talk it over with your friends. Or you may need to take a walk in the garden and meditate. Perhaps a past life regression to learn your ancient pattern cords. Write, write, write it in your Journal.
Get to the very deep, dark root of the why and see it for what it is. Stare at it in the face. Look at it. It is not a ‘who blinks first’ contest. But ultimately, you have to look your root cause in the face and get to know it deeply.
A bit of caution here:
Don’t fall in love with your root cause. Don’t get too attached to it.
Resist the urge to linger in this phase though. Bear in mind that you aren’t here to stay. You are only here to take a good look at it before you get rid of it.
If you fall in love with your cause, you will end up becoming a whiny-faced brat and everyone who loves you will avoid you because they can’t keep listening to your love story any more. Got it?
I’m telling you like it is. Hate me for it if you want. But that is how it goes.
Step 4: Visualize It
Visualize it in your mind. Continue the process that you had started in the previous step.
In this step, you are going to finally get rid of the root cause and everything else that that particular root has sprouted. One by one, the tree that it has built up over time is going to be removed from your psyche.
It is going to be a tough process — you have to be truly committed.
No matter what sort of pain it may bring up — because stuff tends to resurface in this stage — come back to this step and do what needs to be done.
There are two kinds of visualizations I use for this step. Use whichever feels right for you at that time. Or modify it to suit your personal, inner landscape. Follow your instinct here.
The visualizations that I’ve shared can be used as a starter visualization as well. In fact, if you come up with another visualization that works and you feel like sharing it, let me know in the comments.
Visualize yourself walking down a road with a huge burden pack on your head, your back, your heart, and any other body part where the burden has accumulated. You may try visualizing it as a lot of boxes that are heavy to carry on that body part.
Visualize yourself slowly dropping the boxes of that burden by the roadside, then feeling light and refreshed, and then walking on. Keep doing this till all the burden is done.
Every time you drop a box, say what it is, forgive yourself and the other person(s) and let it go.
Visualize that the box is then disintegrating into soil and mixing with the dirt and dust by the road side.
Walk on forward. Don’t look back. There’s nothing there any more.
Do this till all the boxes are dropped.
Repeat this visualization till it truly feels lighter and lighter.
Visualize yourself with the boxes of burdens, sitting by a fire. You can be in a forest or a garden, or any surrounding that works for you.
Slowly put each box of burdens in the fire. This fire is a cleansing fire, and each box burns in the fire. Instead of smoke rising from that fire, we see pretty, colorful butterflies coming out of that fire.
Butterflies are a potent symbol of transformation. When you see those butterflies fly into the sky, say a prayer of forgiveness for both yourself and the other person(s). See those butterflies go up into the skies and disappear. They’ve taken all your hurt, pain, suffering, and also your forgiveness with you and they’ve dissolved into the Universe. Everything is all gone now.
Repeat this visualization till you feel genuinely light and free.
Step 5: Replace It
The story isn’t over yet. You’ve been so used to feeling all those things for all that time. Now that its gone, it can leave you feeling hollow and empty — like you don’t have anything left to do with your time any more.
At this point, you are very much in danger of going back to the place where you wallowed in your stuff. And after all this hard work, you most certainly don’t want to do that.
So, Replace it with another healthy habit that helps you remain positively occupied, and helps you take the next baby steps forward.
Some of the healthy habits can include:
- Working Out / Walking / Swimming / Kickboxing
- Decluttering your home (physically removing all the unnecessary junk in your surrounding space is like a ‘real world’ manifestation of the inner world work that we did in the previous step.)
- Reading awesome strength giving books
- Going for long walks while listening to those audio books
- Studying / Learning a new Skill
- Drawing, Painting, Crafting, Coloring
In short, replace the old habit with a new healthy one. Do something fun and engaging, that will help you move forward with your life’s story.
Step 6: Rejoice It
You’ve come so far! You totally deserve a big, giant hug and a pat on the back! You are one strong human being! You deserve so much love and light!
Rejoice it and celebrate this letting go and embrace the healthy habit that you’ve now started.
This a great way to encourage yourself. This will create new neural pathways. Your synapses will snap to the new pattern now, and you will feel more at ease when and if you want to do this exercise again.
You’ve come full circle. Rejoice in it.
Step 7: Imagine One Day
Once you’ve done letting go, and celebrating your load-shedding, take this next step into your new path. As you slowly ready yourself, imagine one day where you are free of these things from your past. Imagine how light and free and happy your day and life will be for that one day.
Your Journal has probably become your best friend by now. Reach for it. Write it down. How this one perfect day without your burdens looks like. How you will live your day free of the past and fully present in the now and in the future.
Write it down. Visualize it. Plan every single minute, every hour if you must. Get as general, or as fine tuned as you want. Stay loose. Or be precise. Follow your way of doing things.
Journal it. Sketch it. Color it in. Visualize it. Day dream it. Imagine it in all the colorful, beautiful aspects that you can. Be as playful and as joyful in this process. This is important.
Step 8: Live It
Now that you’ve designed and imagined and visualized your perfect day, it is time to Live that day. Make it happen for real. Live like you’ve let it go. And truly experience all that you’ve visualized.
When this special day draws to an end, don’t let go of the beautiful, beautiful energy. Go ahead. Let this flow into the next and the next and the next. Live that week and keep it going for the next seven days.
Don’t stop for a breather, or a rest break. There’s no need for one. Let these days just flow into each other, one after the other.
If you must, tweak the visualization on the go. But don’t stop. Keep on going. Mondays are different from Sundays after all. So tweak it. But keep going.
As the week draws to and end, keep on going. Let this week flow into the next and into the next. Live that month. Let this energy totally take you over. Live this entire month, one day at a time, one week at a time, in the way you imagined it — free from all the chains and burdens from the past.
Let each day flow into the other, and let the beautiful positive energy vibes spread into your life.
Step 9: Make It Your New Normal
Now that you’ve lived this wonderful day, brilliant week, and super awesome month, you totally know that you can make it happen.
What are you waiting for?
Make it your new normal.
Keep on going to the next month and the next month and the next month. Now that you’ve got the hang of it, it’ll come much more smooth and easy for you.
Step 10: Rinse. Repeat.
Life is not a bed of roses. Letting go of one burden doesn’t mean something else won’t ever happen to you again.
Once you’ve got the hang of this Letting Sh*t Go business, the question is: how do you remain ready for when you realize that you need this process again?
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
Journaling is my favorite method. I write at least a page in the morning, before I begin my day. And then I top it off by a page at night, before I plop into bed. Even if it is a short note. Or if it is a long essay. I write it down, so I don’t keep my feelings and thoughts about anything inside of me.
This way, if there is anything that is bothering me, or troubling me, I’ve got it out of me. I have already acknowledged it and communicated it, and now I can begin to root it and so on till I’ve let it go completely.
At first, this process may feel onerous, especially for a ‘small’ problem or issue. Over time, however, it will come more easily and won’t feel like too much of a bother.
Essentially, you will be tackling the issue before it becomes bigger or even more troublesome for you.
Practice Makes Perfect
Still, we are human. Something is bound to slip through the cracks. When you discover those hidden bits that need sorting out, well, the process will come more easy for you.
After all, you’ve been practicing for a while now. So you know very well what you need to do, don’t you?
As, I’m sure I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this post, your neural pathways have been built and travelled upon several times. Now your synapses will hop to it faster, and the process will become quicker, smoother, easier. It will be more fluid for you to get into the swing of things.
In The End…
Life is all about finding your bliss, and being joyful in almost all of the moments that you live.
Although that sounds pretty saccharine sweet, it isn’t. Bliss doesn’t always translate into a stream of endless happy moments — rather it can be sweaty, back breaking, hard work that makes your heart bloom in a thousand different colors of flowers.
When you slave over your masterpiece drenched in blood, sweat and tears, the ensuing result can cause sunshine explosions in your very core. And then, that same slave driving bliss pushes you on — you put that masterpiece aside and start working on your next one.
Being joyful doesn’t mean that you have to smile through each and every sad moment of your life — rather it forces you to find the core of the purest joy within each situation. It makes you search for that silver lining. It pushes you to find a core of the Universe within that situation. Joy wants you to find that place in your heart where you are truly filled with compassion and soul. Being joyful means learning to stay in that happy plane no matter what craziness unfolds in the real life around you.
Life throws you so many challenges, and just as many opportunities. When you pay attention, you learn to discern between those two, and ride out those waves as they crash upon the shores of your being. Each time, you discover something new. Each time, you conquer another wave.
This, perhaps, is the ultimate purpose of life itself — to discover the true core of your being as joyful and blissful, and to live from that core. And to live fully, freely, and completely.