If you've ever had one of those times when you've clutched a pen or something else in your hand for a long time, only to look down and be surprised that you are still holding it long after your need for it had passed, you'll understand sometimes we get so used to holding things that we forget to let go. –Anonymous
If you want fresh water in your cup, you have to pour out the old water. If you want to make changes, you have to let go of some things in your life, in order to make room for the changes.
Why do we fight so hard to hang onto things that no longer serve our needs? For most of us, it's because we find security in the known and we fear the uncertainty of the unknown. At some point, however, it becomes uncomfortable to stay where we are, and we know we need to move on. We realize that holding onto the things of the past is like holding onto a bomb with a lit fuse. Sooner or later, it will explode in our faces.
What kinds of things should we let go of?
Some things have to be let go again and again, every day. These include negative emotions such as anger, fear, worry, resentment, jealousy, guilt, or the need for revenge.
Some things have to be let go of at intervals. These might include a job that no longer challenges you, a friendship or intimate relationship that is not working out, a child who is ready to leave the nest, or a dream that is just not going to happen, no matter what.
Occasionally, we need to let go of material things and the needs that drove us to acquire those material things. We might have to let go of money and the illusion of power. We might have to let go of our home, our car, or our fashionable wardrobe and our illusion of security, respectability, popularity, or success.
Sometimes, we need to let go of inner things, such as our beliefs, our old values, our opinions, our self-image, or our limitations. These are harder to let go, because they are so deeply buried in our psyche. In order to let these go, we have to identify them first. Sometimes it is necessary to figure out how we got them in the first place before we can let them go. We definitely have to have something to put in their place, so we have to figure out what we want before we let go of what we don't want.
Overall, in order to make changes in our lives, we must let go of who we thought we were so that we can become different people, and we need to let go of our current vision of the future, so that we can create a different, brighter future. Leon Brown, a religious leader in the UK, wrote, "By letting go, you allow everything to find its rightful place. Once free, everything finds its way home."
When we let go, we realize that we have been using up a lot of energy just holding onto things and ideas that no longer serve us. We can use that energy to nurture our new dreams.
On the web, I found a great worksheet created by Britt Bravo. It is a chart you can print and fill out for yourself. On the left are some "flowers" labeled "Ideas to Grow." On the right are some clouds that will float away on the wind. They are labeled "Ideas to Let Go." Even if you don't print out the photo, you can make your own chart of flowers and clouds. I like the visual, because it reminds me that whatever I "grow" will require care and nurturing on our part, just as I plant flowers in my garden so they will get the sunlight they need, water the flowers every day, and protect them from wild animals or too much wind. I like the clouds, too, because they remind me that I can let my old ideas go gradually and gracefully. They will float away on the wind of change without much effort on my part.
When I filled out my chart, I tried to make sure that for every idea to grow I had one to let go. A couple of ideas to grow are very long-term plans, so I illustrated those as buds, rather than full flowers. The ideas that I have been working on for a while are depicted as flowers in full bloom. I ended up being a little surprised at what I will need to let go of in order to grow a new idea. For example, if I want to get into a relationship with someone, I will have to give up my self-image as a totally self-sufficient woman. (I can be self-reliant, but there's no need to be self-sufficient. There are other people out there, and they are meant to be interacted with. That was the point of coming here, remember?) Another example: If I want to move to a warmer climate, I will have to give up the security of living in a familiar place near family. I have to remember that I'm not just letting go until I'm empty. There will be trade-offs. There will be benefits.
Here is your Ideas to Grow - Ideas to Let Go visual. Have fun with this. :-)