I truly believe that “for everything there is a season” and that we can learn from nature when it comes to letting go.
One benefit of living up north is that we get to distinctly witness the four seasons. We like to think of spring as a time to renew and create, but I look out my window at the trees letting go of their leaves and realize Mother Nature gets it. These trees get it. Each leaf had a purpose during its time with the tree. The seasons change and the purpose has been fulfilled. The tree knows instinctively to let go of the leaves and does so trusting there will be new buds to come in the spring. The trunk is strong, yet flexible, and it’s deeply rooted into the earth. So it will hold steady through the cold winter and look forward to the next season.
Anyone else feel like we’ve already been experiencing something like the cold winter? We know there is good to come, but have been waiting so patiently for it. No matter if it’s the weather we’re dealing with or just a season of life (or a pandemic), the waiting and enduring can be a challenge. However, we can’t have the renewal of the next season without letting go of how we wish things were now and accepting how they are (even when it’s difficult and messy).
Why Is It So Hard to Let Go?
I often find myself holding on to things too long.
It can be small and tangible like keeping those jeans that might fit again, someday. It can also be larger and ambiguous like hanging onto old feelings of grief, guilt or anger. It’s easier to let go of something small and tangible. It’s not so easy to let go of the old emotions from painful events, the what ifs, or the should haves and could haves. I wish I was more like a tree and could just let go instinctively and without hesitation.
I’ve worked really hard on getting better about letting go after facing some significant challenges both professionally and personally.
Let it Burn
I once worked with a wonderful coach and mentor on trying to steady my emotions as I moved through some rough times, and subsequently picked up two really useful tools. One was journaling. The other went a step further, was a bit more unconventional and much more freeing. It’s journal and burn.
I write down how I am feeling, or compose a letter to someone who is frustrating me. I make it real, raw, and truthful (forget “North Dakota nice”). Then I take what I wrote, take it to the backyard to my fire pit and let it burn.
The energy I trap in my body releases as I watched the words I wish I could say out loud or the heavy feelings I have blow away in smoke.
I’m sure I looked crazy the first time I did it. Standing over a fire pit in the middle of winter wearing snow boots and a robe lighting a little piece of folded paper on fire. But it honestly helped. I have encouraged many friends to try burning letters over the years and it feels good! If you don’t have a fire pit, use a fireplace or even a metal bucket. (Keep in mind fire safety; this should be done outside in a fire-safe container and should only be done by an adult).
Give it a try when you’re feeling overwhelmed and see if helps you, too.
Really Let It Go
Remember the tree metaphor once you do try to let go of your worries, fears, and heaviness. Trees never try to pick up the old leaves again. The dried, old leaves will simply crumble, disintegrate, and decompose. Trees simply know the leaves will come again to replace the old. So, have patience to hold firm through your winter (or season of life) and try a change in perspective to make it more bearable.