This week my favorite season, autumn, officially arrives! I know how basic it sounds, but I seriously love everything about the season. In particular, I love the changing of the leaves. Not only are the vibrant yellows, reds, and oranges my favorite, but I find something comforting in the fact that the trees are at their most beautiful when they are in the midst of letting go.
For most of us, letting go is hard. It’s a struggle to release people, things, or emotions we’ve grown accustomed to having in our lives. Some people are better at letting go than others. I, for example, have a terrifically terrible time letting go of people, but when it comes to letting go of material things, I have absolutely no trouble saying goodbye. Others don’t seem to cling to people the way I do, but ask them to get rid of a dress they wore once in high school and they act like you’re asking them to sell their soul. We’re all different when it comes to letting go, but I bet that no matter who you are, you have a hard time letting go of something.
But you know what? That’s okay. It’s okay to have a hard time releasing what matters to you. Whether it’s things, people, or thoughts, it’s difficult to give up something you once thought of (or still think of) as yours. But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. When you keep things you don’t need (and, yes, this includes people), you create emotional (and sometimes physical) mess. Extra things create clutter in your home, and extra people create clutter in your heart. Personally, I’d rather not have any clutter in my life — and the only way to do that is to learn how to let things go.
It’s not always easy to release things, the way the trees always seem to graciously let go of their leaves each autumn, but it’s up to you to choose to stop clinging to the things that you no longer need in your life. No one is going to do it for you, but I’ve got some tips for how to make it happen. Ready? Okay, let’s go let go!
- Decide what’s really important. When you take a step back and think about what’s truly important to you, you’ll realize that many of the things you’re holding on to aren’t as essential as you once thought. What’s essential is being healthy, positive, mindful, and living your life to the fullest. If you are clinging to things or people, you’re not really at peace with yourself or your life. Step back and assess what really matters to you, and letting go will become a lot easier.
- Assess what benefits you’re getting. One of the reasons we hang on to things or people is because we believe they add value to our lives. But is that actually true? Think about it — and I mean really think about it. Are you benefiting from the clutter (emotional or physical) in your life? Is your life richer because you are surrounded by negative people? Probably not. Take a moment to list the benefits you think you’re getting and you’ll probably have a short list. Use this to motivate yourself to release what no longer serves you.
- Recognize that you’re overvaluing it. You’re the one placing high value on a person or thing you’re holding on to unnecessarily. More often than not, you’re idealizing that person or thing and telling yourself that, for whatever reason, you need it/him/her. However, that’s not true. If there’s any part of you saying “let go,” that means let go. What you need in your life is you. You also need things that are bringing you up, not down. If something isn’t bringing you up, it’s bringing you down. Stop overvaluing it and let it go.
- Be brave enough to release your grip. It really does come down to the old Nike slogan, “Just do it.” No matter how hard it is, no matter what obstacles stand in your way, sometimes you have to just suck it up, be brave, and release your grip. I know this is much easier said than done, but, honestly, it really is the only way. You owe it to yourself to be brave; to release the things that you no longer need. A remember: the hardest part is the release; once you’re brave enough to take that first step, you’ll soon see that you’re just fine without it.
As much as you might think you need something or someone, keep in mind that “need” is a very strong word. What you really “need” in your life is very different from what you “want.” Keep in mind that, deep down, you know what’s best for you. If there’s something telling you to let go, listen to that instinct. Your gut feelings will let you know what’s right and what’s wrong. You just need to open your mind and listen to them. And then, when you hear that voice telling you that you need to let something go, have the courage to really listen and to take action.
Letting go isn’t often easy, but you can make your life so much more positive if you take inspiration from the beautiful trees in autumn and just let the dead leaves drop. And, yes, you might go through a tough time — a winter, if you will — but that will pass, and you’ll grow stronger and healthier in the process, just like bright green leaves and flowers do each spring.