During a recent run outside, I couldn’t help but notice leaves fluttering to the ground. I love summer, but the beauty of this quintessential autumn moment was difficult to ignore.
Leaves fall to the ground at the end of every summer when the tree no longer needs them. Since the first spring blossoms, they nourished the tree. Despite this sustaining service, trees instinctively know when to let go.
I envy how gracefully they can part with aspects of life that no longer contribute to their overall well-being. Why do we struggle to do the same?
What are you holding onto?
Maybe you’re caught up in bitterness and resentment or pessimism and self-criticism. Perhaps you keep a tight grip on the chronic clutter, toxic relationships, or unhealthy habits in your life. These never served you, even though the wisdom you gained while dealing with these issues is valuable.
There’s no one in this world who isn’t holding onto something that doesn’t serve them. Usually, identifying what you need to let go of is the easy part. Determining how to take that step is far more nuanced.
Letting go means something different to each of us. Not only are our hardships diverse, but the roads we travel to get to this point are divergent, too. Everyone has a different story, and life experience defines what we struggle with and how we can break free.
Why won’t you let go?
What doesn’t vary is the source of these struggles. Whether you need to let go of a behavior, feeling, habit, or object, you make the choice to maintain the status quo. Deciding to move forward without baggage starts with you.
Of course, truly letting go requires self-reflection. Reflecting may seem like a simple task, but candidly assessing your life can take courage and wisdom. Without honesty, though, there’s a very real possibility of missing out on something wonderful.
Let go to make room
Some habits and behaviors serve a specific purpose for a specific time. These help you for a while but eventually lose their value in your daily life. The same principle applies to relationships you’ve outgrown and jobs you’ve outpaced.
Nature is onto something. The plants drying up and withering away aren’t afraid to surrender the beauty of summer. They don’t doubt that spring will come again. Blossoms can’t grow where there are already leaves, and you can’t make space for new opportunities without shedding what no longer serves you.
Relinquish the superfluous, and you have the capacity for more creativity, space for new relationships, and the curiosity to learn. You feel lighter, so you can carry more.
What should we hold tight?
Still, there is some value to holding on to what grounds you—the traditions, mementos, and memories you want to protect.
Holiday ornaments embody this idea. Often, ornaments are purchased (or made) to commemorate an event, whether you’re remembering a trip to an exotic locale, capturing a significant year for your family, or paying tribute to the life of a treasured pet.
Your ornaments are no more than trinkets to an outsider. To you, they can represent past joy. Whether ornaments are a part of your holiday tradition or not, you hold on to them to remember what you hold most dear.
The key is knowing what you really need and what you don’t. Are you holding on to remember and recreate feelings of past joy? Or are you keeping an opposing force in your life because letting go is just too hard?
Be honest—do you really want to carry what you know is unnecessary into next year?