Do you wake up each day with the feeling that something is missing?
Is the life you dream about a far cry away from the life you’re currently living?
What’s stopping you from being the person you want to be? From living the life you want to live?
If you aren’t as happy and confident as you could be, if you aren’t living how you want to, my guess is that you probably have some letting go to do.
Letting go is a topic I’ve written about a lot and for good reason. Most of us have trouble with it and the inability to let go interferes with our opportunities to create lives we love, to be the person we want to be.
Not being able to let go isn’t part of a disorder, unless of course you believe that “human” is a diagnosis.
People often speak of the human condition, which entails the feelings, thoughts, and experiences that we share as a species. One of my biggest challenges recently has been to decipher whether or not my feelings are due to a “disorder” or whether they are simply human.
This time last year I wrote a lot of posts dealing more specifically with Borderline Personality Disorder. If you’ve been following me for a while (and thank you to those of you who have), you’ve likely noticed that my posts don’t talk about BPD much anymore. The reason for this is my desire to create an identity outside of diagnoses I’ve received in the past.
Some of you might ask, “Do you still have BPD? Are you recovered?”
The answer to that might somewhat surprising because I don’t really have one. I probably still fit some criteria and my emotional experiences are a little more acute than others, but I’ve learned how to control my emotions and not succumb to self-destructive behaviors to manage them. The question for me isn’t whether or not I’m recovered, but what am I doing to take care of myself as a human being, not as a former-patient?
The ability to let go has a lot to do with my current level of self-esteem and happiness.
It’s the practice of letting go of limiting thoughts and beliefs, the ones that kept me mired in a story where I was either the victim or a bad, unworthy person undeserving of the better things in life.
Letting go is not always a one-time event. In my experience, it’s an ongoing practice of reminding myself that the future need not reflect the past. Each day we have the gift of recreating ourselves, our stories, our lives.
This is not to say that we should abandon our pasts or try to re-write who we once were, quite the opposite really.
Brené Brown speaks and writes about this extensively. If you haven’t read The Gifts of Imperfection, I highly recommend it as it contains inspiring reasoning and research about the importance of vulnerability and authenticity. One of the most poignant messages of that book (for me) is to own up to our pasts, to not be ashamed of who we are (even if we aren’t proud of everything we’ve done), and to also embrace our true selves so we can forge authentic relationships based on authenticity rather than a facade of what we think the world wants to see.
With a new month comes the chance to really put some change into motion.
If you aren’t living the life you want, might I suggest taking a sincere look at the areas in which you are hanging onto something (an idea, belief, thought, feeling, or memory) that ought to be let go of?
“Nostalgia is also a dangerous form of comparison. Think about how often we compare our lives to a memory that nostalgia has so completely edited that it never really existed.” –Brené Brown
Sometimes the past can provide comfort, but how often is that comforting memory rooted in reality?
I’ve often had memories of the past that brought me comfort, even when the actual situation made me miserable. It happens to all of us. We glamorize a relationship that once was, we convince ourselves that a situation wasn’t “that bad”, that maybe we are misremembering. I think this happens because the known is more reassuring than the unknown.
If you can’t let go of who you used to be, you block yourself from the opportunity to improve, to change, to be who you want to be. It means you’ll be stuck in the past, where you keep reliving old patterns.
The freedom to be someone new is refreshing, it’s a second chance we give ourselves.
If you still believe perfection is possible, you’re only setting yourself up for failure.
If you use achievements and awards as a yardstick to measure your self-worth, then your self-esteem will forever be on shaky ground.
If the opinions of others matter more to you than your own beliefs, you’ll end up living a life that isn’t your own.
The difference between a thought and a belief for me is a thought is a temporary cognition. Thoughts change quickly and more often, whereas beliefs are ingrained and more enduring, though not necessarily permanent.
Do you limit yourself because you think you’re dreaming too big?
Do you limit yourself because you think you’re unworthy or undeserving?
It’s challenging to rewire your brain, to let go of thoughts that no longer serve you, but it’s OK to dream bigger, to be who you want to be.
Part of being authentic means that you own your past. It’s ok if there are parts of your story that you want to rewrite. No one is exempt from mistakes and mishaps, but we also don’t have to continue to pay for our mistakes. Make amends where they are needed and if they are possible. Outcomes can’t be controlled and sometimes situations don’t have happy endings. This is ok. Accept it and keep moving forward.
We all have things we are ashamed of but that also doesn’t mean we have to keep living out the shame.
Don’t let negative words or negative people from your past keep you from moving on with your life or from making the changes you want to. Their opinions have as much power over you as you allow. The choice is yours!
Is fear ever self-serving? Maybe, maybe not. The goal is not to eliminate fear, because that’s not really possible. I do think fear can be managed so you don’t act from it.
If you fear you can’t get what you want, go for it anyway, unless it is a truly unrealistic goal. Sometimes though, we need to redefine ‘unrealistic’ and let ourselves have the chance to do what we thought was impossible.
If you fear you don’t deserve to get what you want or be who you want to be, acknowledge the fear and set it aside. Act in spite of that fear not because of it. Act like you are deserving and you might just surprise yourself
Your turn: What do you need to let go of? What’s your best advice about letting go?