You know what I’m really good at? Holding onto things. Things that are important, things that don’t matter, good things, bad things, maddening things! It’s less about physical stuff—I’m actually quite a minimalist when it comes to material objects—but memories, feeling states, thought forms? Oy, I can cling to that stuff with a vice grip. Gone unchecked, my Holding On Program can be like a brick in my backpack—and make me highly embittered and nostalgic. It’s not pretty.
Of course, we all carry around problematic psychological and emotional stuff—even when it doesn’t serve us. But why? In the spirit of spring-cleaning, let’s explore.
With my clients, I generally observe two tendencies when it comes to holding on vs. letting go:
In the first scenario, the person has a penchant for holding on too long, getting overly attached to a particular relationship, interpersonal issue, or story—people like myself. There is an unconscious fear about letting go: “Who will I be without this fear? Will I lose my creative edge if I drop this inner opposition? Will I lose all connection to this person, job, or memory if I release this issue?” Aside from the emotional morass, there are long-term physical manifestations that result from a penchant for holding on too long, especially to anger and resentment. Cancers. Hypertension. Liver/gallbladder disease. Dangerous stuff.
The other tendency I’ve observed is for people to fast-forward straight to attempting to release something that’s causing them distress. I say attempting because, as we know, prematurely letting go of something—before we’ve truly done the work of processing and integrating the experience—isn’t really effective. Beliefs such as, “If only I could cut off this one piece, then I’d be whole. If I could just make it go away, everything would be fine.” There are a lot of metaphors to body image and physical health here, too.
Usually, when Focusing work reveals that someone feels that a part of them needs to be severed to be healed, the belief is based in self-dislike or self-hate. When we tell ourselves that we can excise a problem and make everything better, we trap ourselves into a lose-lose. The thinking goes, “I’m just going to force myself to get over that rejection.” It might work for a while on a purely behavioral level, yet the deeper wound remains
In my work, what I’ve learned is that what we really need is to go towards what we instinctively want to eviscerate. It’s about moving towards and being with, not judging and trying to excise. That’s how you integrate. That’s how you heal. There are so many flower essences to support this sometimes difficult, scary, and counterintuitive process. A few of my favorites include: Echinacea, Lemon Balm, Star Tulip, and Dwarf Ginseng.
Now, it’s important to acknowledge the barriers to letting go. Those include:
• It doesn’t feel safe. When something is really painful—and, as a result, connected to a lot of our neurobiology—our subconscious doesn’t feel safe to let go.
• Your inner child isn’t on board for the change you want to make. Even if your adult consciousness is ready, the consciousness of your inner child is informing what your subconscious believes. So we’re unable to manifest real change.
• You don’t believe you deserve to let go.
• You don’t believe you know how to survive without the accompanying fear, sadness, or guilt.
• You’ve skipped the acceptance stage. Sometimes it’s too painful to accept an aspect of a conflict. We pretend that we’ve moved on, yet we’re unconsciously holding onto a desire for a different reality.
• It’s simply not time to let go yet. Other lessons and insights must be integrated first.
Before we can let go, we must consciously arrive at the knowing that it is, in fact, time to release the feeling, memory, or thought form. This moment of knowing requires great discernment. We cannot skip this step—otherwise we’re just bypassing. The vicious cycle will repeat and we will have to continue to experience pain until we get it. Get it?
Cultivating compassion for ourselves—and any other parties involved—is the next step in the letting go process. It’s the only way to reach acceptance, forgiveness, and liberation. It’s easy to identify imbalances and old stories when they’re playing out on the surface. But as we continue to attune to subtler emotional levels, we must have compassion for all the hidden inner struggles and programs we find buried down deep. These programs may not be outwardly apparent, but inwardly, they’re torturing us. These struggles are very real. Don’t forget: Everyone is fighting a battle inside, to some extent. Everyone is engaged in the same conflict. Everyone is working through the difficult process of deciding what to hold onto, and what to release.
It’s crucial to remember that each of us chose to incarnate into this place, right now. That’s what we’re doing here, after all: Learning about emotions, balancing mind, body, and spirit, and consciously participating in our own evolution. Letting go the right way is a crucial part of progress. So the more you choose to do it with your eyes open, the more you get to consciously cultivate and create.
Spring is the time for planting seeds. Every thought is a seed. Every thought can grow into more thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and programs. If ever there was a time to trust in the quantum relationship between thoughts and reality it’s now. Maybe some of you are, like me, already recognizing the changes in frequency. Have you ever visualized an image before seeing it on the street? I find myself dreaming of a plant before suddenly seeing it in nature. These may seem like arbitrary coincidences, but the reality is that, unconsciously, we’re all manifesting the thoughts in our minds. To use this astonishing cosmic phenomenon for good, all we have to do is add intention: Only plant thoughts that will grow into beautiful, healthy trees.
Think of your emotional body like your home: What areas of yourself need a little dusting? Are you sure you still need to hold onto that story about your ex-boyfriend? Is it really necessary to follow him on Facebook? What’s with that resistance to taking better care of yourself? Whatever it is, maybe just check in and ask, “Is this serving me?”
If you are carrying something around in your emotional backpack that isn’t serving you, don’t try to push it away. Instead, hold it with intention. Inquire more deeply. When the time is right, you will be able to encourage release.
May all that you choose to grow serve you, the collective, and our Earth in the highest way.