Note: “active letting go” is not to be mistaken for “passive letting go,” whereby life rips stuff out of your grip, or you paint yourself into a corner, or things get so heavy they stop you in your tracks and you have to ditch them just to carry on. Active letting go is a little more… pro-active. It’s a practice. It’s awake. It’s somewhat delightful (except for the agony of it).
7 THINGS I KNOW ABOUT ACTIVE LETTING GO:
- There’s always more to let go of. It’s endless and it’s beautiful because it’s endless. Just surrender to the endlessness of it.
- Typically, letting go is painful – in varying degrees, from wince to damn near crippling, it’s gonna hurt. Fact.
- Hard leads to soft. Imagine ripping off a bandage; dropping an heirloom off at the thrift store and resolving to not go back to get it; kissing him or her that way for the last time and tearing yourself away because you need to grow in the other direction; boarding the plane with a heavy heart… When you steel the nerve to be tough enough to let go, you cross over a sacred line. And on the other side, Tenderness is waiting for you, and She’s very proud and She’s very encouraging.
- Baby steps are okay, but you can’t avoid the pain that surfaces when you commit to the letting go. (See, you just can’t get around the pain part.)
- From the mundane to the monumental, letting go hurts. Always has, always will. (Yes, a repeat of #2. It bears repeating.)
- Acceptance is medicine. When you just accept that the pain of letting go is part of the deal, your let-go wound will heal faster.
- When you let go, the odds are in your favour. Out of, say, 123 people I’ve talked to about letting go of all sorts of stuff – material and emotional – 88% of them wished they’d done it sooner, and 97% of them have no regrets whatsoever. Only 3% are still confused.
I’ve let go of a dizzying amount in a relatively short amount of time: a business, a marriage that ended lovingly but necessarily broke my heart (open), a home filled with things I chose with great intention. A friendship that grew so small it choked any possibility of newness. Bags of gorgeous clothes and jewelery. Boxes of well-loved books, and photos, and legal documents, and other evidence of how smart I thought I was back then. My proud stack of Dwell Magazines. Wedding shoes. Ambitions. My hair stylist.
By nature, I’m not a collector. I am, as my friend Marianne puts it, a ruthless, serial shedder. I was joking to a soul sister that If I let go of anything else, I’m not going to have a sofa to sit on, I’ll be wearing flip flops in the winter, and only two people are going to come to my funeral. But I’ve surrendered to the endlessness of it. And it’s a resolution that softens.
For me to shed even more (I’m on ShedVenture with Bindu Wiles and 155 other shedettes,) well, I’m getting close to the marrow these days. Thankfully. The marrow is the source of vitality.
Deep deep deep beneath constructs of time, and idealism, and things I “captured” along the way is the freedom that has been pulling me forward my whole life. Always forward.
(And BTW, Why do we need to capture memories? As if they need to be tamed and penned lest they get away. My memories can come and go as they please, they’re much more meaningful that way. This might explain why I have next to no photos in my home. Anyway…)
So I’m still shedding — taking deep breaths and actively letting go. I’m not waiting until I’m ready to let go. I’ve waited long enough. Carried stuff long enough. Longed long enough. For lightness. For that tender place on the other side of courage.
Take deep breaths. Often.
And move stuff over and out.
Make space (what a creative act! space-making!)
The space is full of what you really need.
Danielle LaPorte is the outspoken creator of The Desire Map, author of The Fire Starter Sessions (Random House/Crown), co-creator of Your Big Beautiful Book Plan. An inspirational speaker, former think tank exec and business strategist, she writes weekly at DanielleLaPorte.com, where over a million visitors have gone for her straight-up advice — a site that’s been deemed “the best place on-line for kick-ass spirituality”, and was named one of the “Top 100 Websites for Women” by Forbes.
*Featured image by Moyan Brenn