One of the hardest things for me to let go was the idea that I could drink like a normal person. I struggled with this idea for years as I diligently tried to regain control over my out-of-control drinking. Yet, one morning after a weekend in a blackout, I was able to completely let it go!
Letting go is not easy and it often is quite painful. Letting go is not giving up, or not caring, in fact letting go is caring enough to move beyond the pain to allow growth. Letting go is getting rid of the negative feelings and beliefs that no longer have any place in my life.
Letting go often sounds easy. We throw the phrase around carelessly as if it was just something to say and not actually to do. Nevertheless, in all honestly, how does one actually let go? It is not as if I can stuff all my resentments, anger, pain, self-pity and all those crappy old ideas in a bag and drop them off a bridge, …or can I?
I truly believe that letting go is what I need to practice every day in my life today. I have been carrying lots of baggage my entire life and I am no longer willing to keep carrying it. Just like, I could not get sober until I let go of the belief that I could control my drinking. At the same time, the unknown of what will actually happen once I let go, can often be very scary – very much like getting sober. I often know what to do and when to let go, but then the fear takes over and I feel stuck.
Like with any change in life, I have to be ready to let go. Unfortunately, we often cannot move towards letting go unless we are in enough pain.
If I am not ready, than nothing will happen. There may be a time that I am already in lots of pain, but not quite ready. That is when I need to be super honest with myself and become open to the idea that this is no longer serving any purpose in my life. This stage is probably the hardest part for me. Sometimes holding on to the crap that is painful is a bit satisfying, because I am familiar with it. In addition, the anger, and the resentments often give me the feeling that I have a right to be mad! I may even “enjoy” being angry at someone and look to create chaos to fuel the fire. This all might feel justified and satisfying, nevertheless, it is not spiritually aligned, and in the end only further hurts me.
When I finally get to the place when I am sure that it is time to let go, I do one, or a couple, or all of these steps:
1. Service to Others. Most of the time when I am going through this painful process, I am in my head and I no longer can see things in a positive light. By helping someone else and reaching out and seeing other’s needs, I am able to get out of myself and see things clearer.
2. Changing Perspective. Sometimes talking to someone about what is holding me down can help me see that my thinking and perspective are skewed. This is because I tend to dwell on what is bothering me and I often lose sight of the original situation. It helps to tell someone and get his or her view on the situation. Often then, I realized that I have made things bigger than they really are.
3. Self-reflection inventory. Writing a great list is easy and quick. Moreover, having it on paper will surely make things clear to you. What I usually do is make two columns. In the left I put what I am angry or resentful (or whatever) about and the other side I write how it makes me feel. Once I see this side by side, I can often grasp better what is really going on. I can often see from my inventory that my old beliefs about self are playing a huge role and it is time to get rid of those.
4. Connecting with a Higher Power. Saying a prayer, taking time for meditation, and reflection on how far I have come are all great tool in the spiritual path to healing. Finding some quiet time to have with myself, not only offers me some peace, but helps me to see that my feelings and behavior is not aligning with my spiritual self.
5. The God box. There are many uses for the God box and you do not have to call it that if you do not want to either. However, the point is to write your problem on a piece of paper and put it in the box. After you put it in the box, you are not to worry about that issue anymore. This is a great tool, because it is simple and you can add things to the box every day. (You can read more about it HERE.)
6. Visualizing. If you have a hard time of letting go because you feel like there is no physical action, visualizing may be a great tool for you! When using visualizing to let go, I imagine physically surrendering, and physically letting go. I close my eyes and imagine putting all of my baggage in a big sack and throwing it of a side of a tall bridge! Another good method, I heard from Sandy B. a well-known AA speaker. He often talked about imagining that he was playing the carnival game where you have to hit the popping-up objects. As he was hitting the objects in his mind, he would say “The idea that I can drink normally has to be smashed. Bam! Bam! Bam!” You could probably also visualize burning your baggage, or melting it down.
*** Some of these methods came from my Twitter support network at #recoveryposse! Whoop Whoop!
If you have any other great tools for letting go please share in the comment section.
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