Letting go is never easy. That’s a vast understatement.
At any given period in our lives, we’re asked to let go of loved ones due to death or illness; experience the dissolution of a relationship; or on a lesser, albeit still painful level, we are forced to let go of jobs or career paths. And although letting go of a bad habit is great, it also comes with its own set of pangs.
Each of us is a unique jigsaw puzzle, comprised of experiences of various interlocking shapes and sizes. Some pieces are shaped like people who have influenced us — positively or negatively. Others are shaped like hobbies and interests. And still more pieces are molded into the shapes of jobs or relationships we’ve held.
In theory, these pieces of the puzzle are supposed to form a complete picture as seen on its box. As you’re working on putting your puzzle together, you keep glancing over at that perfected reference picture to get an idea of just what is supposed to fit where.
No one is a completed puzzle. We may think we have it connected and then realize those two pieces we thought fit together… don’t.
Like a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces, the process of letting go often brings with it the fear of losing a big chunk of who you are.
Life may be puzzling, but you’re even more complex than any jigsaw puzzle. Your identity is so much more than any one thing. Closing the book on a chapter of your life does not make you any less “you” than you were while actively participating in that chapter. At your core, you are still the same person. Granted, you may feel a void in your everyday life. That’s normal. You’re human. It’s impossible to process a major change in one, fell swoop.
Here are a few ways to make the process of letting go just a little bit easier:
Grieve Your Loss
It’s okay to cry. You may not want to indulge in a full-blown crying jag in public, however, it’s normal and healthy to have a good cry. According to neuroscientist Dr. William H. Frey II, PhD, “crying is not only a human response to sorrow and frustration, it’s a healthy one. Crying is a natural way to reduce emotional stress that, left unchecked, has negative physical effects on the body.”
Part of letting go means releasing any pent up anguish you may be experiencing. There is no shame in taking a moment to acknowledge what you have just lost or what you’re feeling during the transition period. Once you “let it all out,” you’re better equipped to move forward.
Rant If You Want To
To lampoon a popular 80s dance hit, “You can rant if you want to / You can leave your cares behind.” One of the best ways to leave an experience in the past is to release all of the negativity associated with it. If you are harboring any harsh feelings surrounding what has just passed from your life, write them down, tell them to a friend, or just let out a hearty primal scream in the privacy of your own room. Once you are able to verbalize (or non-verbalize, in some instances) those feelings, it becomes easier to move forward.
Recognize the Blessings of Your Situation
Initially, it may be hard to accept your circumstances let alone see that they may have a silver lining. Yet, the blessings are there. Letting go means finding the good in the situation and pressing onward. Nothing lasts forever, including pain. No matter how horrible a situation may be, it comes with an important life lesson: You are not merely letting go of something that is now a part of your past. You are finding who you are now and who you will become by how you deal and just what it takes for you to move on.
Everyone loves to laugh. It may seem completely inappropriate to laugh as you’re experiencing a major upheaval in your life, but a little levity goes a long way to making it through. Maybe your situation is riddled with irony. Or maybe it’s a bit slapstick. Even if you can’t find the humor in your experience, you may have a friend who can help dispel the drama by making you laugh at life in general. Read a funny book. Pop in a DVD of your favorite comedy. Cliche as it sounds, laughter truly is the best medicine.
Stephanie Potter is, what she likes to call, a “holistic homemaker.”