The last few months have been filled with change for me. Ironically, they say that those of us with brain injuries don’t deal well with change, so we are instructed or encouraged to set up as much structure in our lives as possible. But, as I think I’ve mentioned before, I have benefitted more from learning to deal with change rather than trying to construct a world of no change. The former is a lot more practical and, in the end, more effective.
So my motto has become the words to an old country song. “Life’s about changin’ nothin’ ever stays the same…”
This song has been a favourite of mine since the very first time I heard it. Every time it plays I tear up, I just can’t help it. Probably because letting go is one of the hardest things for me to do emotionally, and secondly the imagery of the girl’s relationship to her mom reflects the closeness of my own relationship with my mom (and I’m crying just writing this). 🙂
Anyway, the whole point of this post is not to describe how emotional I get (although that would make a good post lol) but to express how well I think this song depicts the struggles we all have in letting go of concepts, people, and things in our lives. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned in my education and through my life experiences, letting go is one of the most useful tools toward personal development and empowerment. Letting go of emotional obligation, expectations, and attachments can be difficult. But through the acknowledgement of the emotion, the thoughtful detachment from that, and the focusing of intention on future possibilities and opportunities we can benefit from the process of embracing change.
First of all letting go of a concept or ideology enables and empowers us to experience the freedom of living life without emotional obligation. This is huge! Without feeling like we HAVE to do this, that, or the other thing we can CHOOSE to do it in love with conviction, and in a positive and constructive way. Let go of the idea that you “have to” and embrace the “want to” in your life. Replace thoughts of obligation with intentions of empowerment and creativity. You have the power to direct your life! Same goes for letting go of ideological programming. Learning to process information through ones own filter of the world, rather than subscribing to someone else’s “programming” or train of thought, is one of the most liberating experiences I have ever lived. So let go of the need to please or adhere to what others “should” on you, and make your choices based on your own awareness, knowledge, and conviction. In the end, you will be the one to live the outcome of your choices (for good or for bad).
Secondly, the song quite vividly portrays the “letting go” of people in ones life and how difficult that can be. We have all experienced the loss of a family member or friend/acquaintance, whether it’s through death or change in life-circumstances. Either way, the grieving process or “letting go” is an important one. I have had very close relationships with family members and friends who have then passed on. I had the most success in grieving through feeling every feeling, acknowledging its reality, then just letting it be. The change is unfortunate but it is what it is.
The “letting go” process reminds me of “Richard from Texas” in the movie Eat, Pray, Love. The main character is recounting her experience with a recent boyfriend and how much she missed him (due to an unhealthy emotional attachment). Richard exclaims, “Then miss him! And send him light and love every time you think of him. And let him go.” What a great point he makes. We are so afraid to feel feelings that we miss out on the opportunity to fully process them.
I have found this to be true for all of my relationships and dating experiences, my strong attachments to family, and even to people I only knew for a short time but with whom I had a significant connection. In each case, when there comes a change in the circumstances and I find myself needing to let go of a person, I need to follow this recommendation. And it usually isn’t a one time deal. It doesn’t happen over night. The letting go process is exactly that: it’s a process and it will need to be revisited in most cases.
Relationships are complex and built over time, so most people would agree they are the hardest to “let go” of. We find safety, security, and even our own identity through relationships, so we don’t just have to let go of the person physically but also emotionally, embracing a new world and everyday experience without that person’s influence or involvement. But again, through the acknowledgement of the emotion (“miss him!”), the detachment from that (“send him light and love every time you think of him”), focusing on future possibilities, opportunities while remembering the positives we have gained from the experience, we can move on to the next part of our journey with a fresh outlook and grateful heart (having had that person in our life for a time).
Finally, we have all had the experience of attachment to things. Then in a moment of loss – whether it is misplaced, stolen, or damaged – we realize how dependent we were on its usefulness or it’s contribution to our comfort or routine. I don’t care who you are, or what the item is, I know we all know what I’m talking about (a house, a car, a cell phone, the internet, etc). Again, the attachment is different in this case, but the outcome of the change is no less emotional. How upset do some of us get if our routine is interrupted for one reason or another? How inconvenient is it to have to rework our plans or replace an expensive investment? Yet just as we mourn the loss of a person or “ideal” we can go through the same process for our attachment to possessions. It may sound silly but it is no less significant in the mind’s eye. If we embrace the loss or change as well as the opportunity to replace that thing which was seemingly “good” or even “great” with the possibility of something BETTER, we can begin to live life in a pro-active way. No longer will we be directed by emotion, but free to live a life of choice and intention.
So in the newness of another year, I pray that each of us is able to let go of the past and the things that don’t serve us – the attitudes, thought patterns, people and things that don’t contribute to your positive experience of life. Embrace the possibilities that lie before you and make the most of every opportunity. Acknowledge reality, be aware of your contribution to that, and choose to actively participate in creating a life you love.
…this is my life…