H anukkah is nearly over, and we’re mere days from Christmas. As I stock the house with necessities like paper towels, pasta and coffee, I can’t help but notice the frenzy of shoppers filling their carts to the brim with sweaters and pajamas and video games.
Instead I want to suggest that you give yourself a gift this holiday season: decide to let go of a piece of emotional baggage.
I don’t know what baggage you’re holding onto. It may be a painful event from your past, a decision you wish you could change, an inability to trust in your instincts, or a deep-seated fear that paralyzes a part of your life.
Darling, life is short, and hanging onto grudges and painful stories does nothing but drag you down. It makes life feel like climbing a mountain while wearing high heels and carrying a 70-pound backpack.
While I believe that we need to learn from the lessons of our past, pretending they don’t exist can often lead to us feeling stuck.
Sometimes, a piece of baggage becomes so ingrained in our psyche that we can’t imagine living life without it. It could the “fact” that we are horrible at choosing romantic partners, with a string of broken relationships serving as “proof. ” Or maybe we have labeled ourselves “hopeless” when it comes to finishing a project. Or maybe, just maybe, we’ve decided that we are “not worthy” of a live we love because we haven’t crossed everything off our to-do list.
The question then becomes: How do we shed this kind of baggage?
I’m all about living in the now, but, darling, if history is keeping you stuck, then discovering what point in history is holding you back is worth it! There are causes and effects in life, and many of us focus on the effect because it’s the easiest to identify. In order to seriously lighten your load, you need to do some root analysis to identify where the baggage originates. You can use the technique of a brain dump, but focusing only on the one topic, to help you with some root analysis. It’s also helpful to talk things through with a trusted friend, family member, therapist or coach to discover the root of your baggage.
The ways to numb our feelings are numerous – overeating, drinking, over-scheduling ourselves, etc. But let’s be frank: baby, it is not living if you are numbing way all the bad feelings. Because, you know what? When you numb the negative emotions, you also numb the positive ones! Acknowledge how angry, sad, embarrassed, dispirited or resentful it makes you feel, because the feelings are what attaches the baggage to your heart.
Working with a therapist or coach can provide you a safe space to work through your feelings. No, this isn’t a time for “what ifs” and “should haves” or any of the other ways we beat ourselves up. It’s a way to allow the healing to begin. And don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Tell Me a Story
I’ve long understood that writing things out is a great path toward figuring out what you really want in life. Same goes when you’re trying to release something. So here’s what you do, kitten: write out the long and drawn-out story of what you want let go of in one document or on a single piece of paper. Then, I want you to go a fresh space (new piece of paper, word doc or journal page) and re-write your Beautiful Story with a twist. How would your fairy godmother tell your story?
Fairy godmothers see through the eyes of wisdom and compassion. They’re always rooting for you even though they know how to keep their distance out of love and respect. They see and accept you fully as you are and will always help support you in realizing your full potential.
This may sound simplistic, but darling, just decide to let it go. So often, we underestimate the sheer power of decision. Let’s be frank, here: Decision is actually a lot about loss, because once you’ve chosen one path, you’re also choosing to ignore all the other paths; you’re losing those other avenues. This is super-scary for a lot of people because no one wants to lose their stuff, right? However, if you don’t make a decision things will basically stay the same, even if “the same” means excuses, negative self-talk, and baggage. Now is the time to lighten your load, forgive yourself, and drop the baggage in the dumpster where it belongs!
Catch & Release
Sometimes, deciding to let it go is enough. However, a part of you may say “Hey! I just figured out what caused these thoughts in the first place!” and your inner critic just wants to hang on and fondle the story for a bit. And darling, that’s OK. You are allowed to process a discovery!
But here’s the deal: choose a date when you will release it. What this does, darling is comforts your mind, letting it know that you don’t expect to suddenly amputate the hand holding the baggage, but rather that you are releasing your grip in a healthy, intentional manner. Choose your release date. Make it a red letter day on your calendar. Share this date with friends or family members. Tweet It.
Daily rituals like mediation, exercise, and savoring my first cup of coffee all are piece of sacred time in my days so that the life I am living is a life that I love. Rituals are all about the celebration of living and life. So, create a celebration about stepping into a life you love through the release of a piece of baggage. Do something symbolic, like shred the first story you wrote (or burning it in the fireplace) – or writing a few words on a rock and throwing it into a river. Light a candle in celebration. Take a long bubble bath and allow the pain to be released when you drain the tub. Drink a glass of wine. Invite a close friend over to help you celebrate the release. Creating some ritual around the release tells your heart and your head that it’s ok to let go.
Let it go. Give it up to God. Release. Let the burden fall away.
Forgive. Forgive others. Forgive yourself.
Lightening the emotional load you carry with you will allow you to truly step into creating a life you are in love with.
Can you think of any better gift you can give yourself holiday season? And what better way to step into a new year than with shiny, clean love towards yourself?