“Sometimes you gotta get through your fears
to see the beauty on the other side.”
~ The Good Dinosaur
A woman came to me in debilitating pain.
Desperate, depressed, feeling she’d exhausted all her options.
She told me her story and what she’d done for it.
I listened, questioned, assessed. I knew the one thing she was consistent with was greatly exacerbating her pain. I gently suggested a different route to create healing and then go back to it when her body had the strength for it.
I explained my thinking. With diagrams.
And what might be a more supportive route for her symptoms.
She didn’t want to hear it. Didn’t buy it. Thank you no thank you.
Even though she said no one had explained it to her like that before.
She didn’t want to learn how to treat herself but did choose bodywork, came for a couple sessions and quit.
More depressed and further frustrated, she admitted she’d done the same with several other practitioners.
The activity she chose to stick with was something stable, steady and consistent in her life.
I understood without her saying so. I felt for her. She wanted change.
She wanted so badly to be out of pain.
To understand. To get back to her life.
But she wasn’t ready.
Letting it go, and letting go of her beliefs about what could help her meant loss.
Of control. Of what she knew in her heart. Of what she loved.
And those things are way more comfortable (even when steeped in pain) than the unknown.
It’s scary over there on the other side.
It’s dark and mysterious and completely unfamiliar.
The known is safe.
Without it we are exposed, raw and vulnerable. Who knows what could happen?
And who wants that?
This is true for anything.
Identities, labels, relationships, jobs, behaviors, beliefs, grudges, anger,
being stuck in an endless loop of who we were in the past.
It’s a security blanket. We know it so well. We think it’s us.
We’ve told it to ourselves or someone else has, and we believe it. Fiercely.
Let me be clear:
Not being ready does not make you any less than.
Having fear doesn’t mean you deserve pain.
You are not broken. You don’t need fixing.
But sometimes trying and trying is just striving and struggling against the current.
So the trying gets lost on changing the what when we need to focus on the why –
as in why we’re not really ready.
Why we can’t let something go.
Why can’t we believe there’s something better on the other side?
Work around that. What is that about?
Why do I think I’m ready when perhaps I’m not? Why am I holding on to this?
What is the root of my fear?
I’m not talking about endless navel-gazing and analyzing.
But recognizing the fear behind it may be the key to unlocking it.
To choosing something else. In the face of fear.
They say letting go creates space for more. For growth. For the good stuff.
I have these bushes outside my house. Huge bushes with gorgeous purple flowers.
Every Autumn our Super prunes the hell out of the bushes.
Cuts every leafy branch down to a nub.
It always seems so drastic. And so unnecessary, at the time.
The leaves don’t turn brown. They’re full. They seem fiiiine.
But the very next summer when the time is right they start to grow and expand until they are massive again, always bigger than we seem to remember – creating a wall towering over our porch with those big gorgeous purple flowers.
And as the coats come out and the daylight shortens, the Super comes by with his shears.
They need to be pruned.
They need to shed this stuff that in the darker times is no longer serving them.
So they may bloom again, bigger than before.
Full disclosure: I don’t know how to know when you’re ready.
I can only answer that for myself.
For so long with so many things I thought I was ready and didn’t get why things weren’t shifting. I had planted myself firmly in the past and was stuck with that identity when trying to make change. But that identity has nothing to do with who I am now.
So I looked at the fears I kept fondling. At the beliefs about myself I so desperately clung to.
I examined what I was devoted to.
And I made new choices.
Full disclosure: This is an over-simplification.
It is by no means easy. In fact, it is very un-easy. In fact, it can be painful.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” ~ Anaïs Nin
And it still happens. And it always will.
There will always be a time for cleaning house, shedding skin and getting real with what
no longer serves me.
There will always be a time to question and not bullshit myself and plug in to devotion.
The start of a year seems a good time to shed. The opening of a new calendar. The clean slate. 365 days to evolve.
But you can do this any time.
Don’t be overwhelmed by January and what it’s supposed to mean.
There doesn’t have to be a holiday or mile marker or specific date to release.
Any day of the year is an opportunity.
At my retreats, we always do a Letting Go Ritual.
We journal, we smudge with sage, we anoint with oils, we walk a labyrinth.
We release a physical natural object to signify our intention.
We write our thing and burn it in a communal bowl.
We call in our support system of those who’ve got our backs.
We question how we might be standing in our own way.
We explore what work needs to be done.
We thank this thing/person/behavior for what it has taught us.
Feel free to take any of these. Letting go is no small task.
It takes work. And more work. And sometimes repeating that work.
At these rituals I always say it’s ok if you’re not ready. There is no judgment here.
Let this work be a springboard.
Work with it and do it when you know it in your bones that you are.
In the meantime, think about what is possible – what can fill the space you clear.
How you can fill the space.
Share with me. Write in the comments or email me about what you’ve done to help yourself let go, how did you know you were ready, what became possible for you – any part of your story.
let’s rock this thing.