I’ve been writing about holding on and letting go and learning how to know which to do in our very real, often challenging, day to day lives. I knew that before I could take on more responsibility, one more commitment, one more expectation of myself, one more resolution and even before I could add one more dream to my bucket list, I had to take stock in what I have right now, and evaluate whether I have room for anything ‘more’ in my life! Everyday I’ve been looking at what I am holding onto, and what I need to let go of. It’s been a challenge for me. Letting go of the ‘stuff’ that clutters my house, letting go of a zillion and one creative ideas, letting go of limiting thoughts and beliefs and letting go of perfection… all challenging for me! But the hardest one of all has been letting go of relationships that are no longer healthy.
The thing about being committed to personal growth, empowering yourself to be more, becoming all you can be… is that along the way you realize that many of the people who once supported you, no longer do. They might be co-workers, friends you thought were lifelong friends, even family members. Sometimes, we just outgrow each other, and we don’t know how to interact or support each other anymore, which ends up making it feel awkward, and sometimes, awful.
It never occurred to me that I might need to let them go one day. I’m fiercely loyal and attached to the people in my tribe! But when I realized that I am no longer able to contribute to their lives, and they certainly are not contributing to mine, it made no sense to continue pouring time, energy, hope and expectation into a relationship that had simply come to an end. When I look back over the past year, I can see that I expended enormous amounts of energy trying to nurture, protect, sustain, and stabilize relationships that just weren’t working, no matter how much I wanted them to. And I wondered what my year would have looked like if I had put that much time and energy into something else!
Letting go felt like giving up. It felt like I was giving up on them, on us, on my own values. It felt like I was giving up hope and that I was giving up a part of me that loved having them in my life…. In my circle of influence. I had to reconcile all of that so I wouldn’t end up holding onto resentment and false expectations once I finally did let go.
So how do you know when its time to let go of a relationship? Ask yourself these three questions:
“Does this relationship bring joy, encouragement, love, laughter, honesty
and richness to my life?”
“Does this relationship allow me to bring joy, encouragement, love, laughter, honesty and richness to the other person?”
“When I think of this person, right now in this very moment, does my energy soar and my heart fill with joy and happiness? Or does my energy sink, and my heart fill with burden and sadness?”
It might be sibling, a best friend, an old friend, or even a spouse that has forgotten how to be in your corner. Think of three relationships that no longer feed your soul, uplift your spirit, or contribute to your life. Ask yourself, “Is it time to let them go?”
Letting go of a relationship can bring great relief. Or, it can bring feelings of sadness, guilt, bitterness and anger. I refused to let go if it left me feeling worse than before! But holding on didn’t always bring good feelings! Letting go can take time. Letting go of a deeper relationship is harder than letting go of co-worker you feel obligated to share lunch with each day! Do your best to reconcile all your feelings first, so when you do let go, you let go gratitude, love and blessings.
If you have someone in your life that you need to let go of, here are a few tips that also might make it easier for you. Answer these questions:
“What is the BEST memory I have with this person?”
“What is the biggest blessing this person brought into my life?”
“What did I learn from this relationship?”
This year, I let go of three significant people in my life. It took a long time to cut all the attachments in my heart. But when I asked myself the first three “Letting Go” questions, the answer was clear and unwavering. And when I asked myself the four “Holding On” questions I was able to remember the good parts, be honest about my feelings. I held onto the times when that relationship brought joy and encouragement.
I found peace when I realized that In order for the relationship to survive, I would need to compromise who I am becoming and what I believe about myself, or I would have to shrink smaller in order to fit back into their life… into their vision of who I needed to be in order to maintain that relationship.
Instead, I chose ME. I let go, with love, honor and blessings to each of those relationships. And my heart didn’t crumble like I thought it would. Instead, it grew stronger because it was free to love and give and share the BEST of me with those who valued ALL of me.
Take a look around you right now. Who do you need to let go of? Who do you have in your corner? Who is around you that motivates you, encourages you, inspires you, enhances your life, and makes you want to be your best? If you don’t have FIVE good people in your inner circle, get them soon!
When you’re ready, hold onto the love, the lessons, the blessings, and then…
By holding on to those relationships that bring out the best in you… and letting go of those relationships that don’t… you will create a brand new perspective about life and what is possible for you in 2013! I promise!