You’re probably wondering, why this topic? It's because many of you took the time to complete my A NEW ME short survey when you subscribed and I just want to say thank you! There were a couple of specific topics that had a higher percentage than others. One topic commonly chosen was "I want to learn how to let go of my past,” which received 66.67%. I wasn’t surprised this topic was highly requested because we can all relate to having difficulties letting go of something in our lives. What we fail to let go it affects our present and has the potential to negatively impact our future.
I understand people are at different emotional stages in their lives. While some of you may feel that you've let go of quite a few things and you're in a very good place, there are others who continue to struggle with moving forward. They feel stuck. Over 90% of the people who have reached out to me for counseling or advice feel stuck. They may be physically moving around, going to work, meeting the minimum requirement for relationship connections but inwardly, they feel like their soul is in mud or quicksand.
Outwardly, many of you may appear to have it all together, but the truth is you're sinking...fast. It's frustrating to say the least! I know, because I've been there (too many times). For that reason, I'm glad many chose this topic so we can dig deeper and discover ways to move forward so we can let IT go.
I want to provide you with 6 ways to challenge you to push towards the process of letting IT go. Are you ready?
1. Identify what IT is.
Want to let it go? First, what is IT? I need you to take out a piece of paper right now and identify what IT is that you're struggling with letting go. Many times we are stuck with IT because we're not getting IT out. Recently I reposted a meme from Dr. Caroline Leaf which stated, "Express yourself. Don't walk around with the burden of unsaid things, unloved talents, and untold stories. Free yourself. Live out loud." Unsaid things are heavy burdens and will always create untold stories. Your IT is your story, but first identify IT. Is IT a person? Could IT be negative emotions such as guilt, shame, anger, unfulfilled expectations, shattered dreams, an unfilled purpose or life? First we must learn to identify the IT so we can begin the process of freedom. After we take this first step, this will help us to move to the next step.
2. Be willing to face IT.
Now that you've identified what IT is, "how do you let IT go? Well you must first start with a willingness to do so" (Dussault, 2014). Jafree Oswald stated, "All suffering is caused either by an attachment to a positive outcome or an avoidance of a negative one” (Dussault, 2014). We avoid what has hurt us. It's human nature. I've said it many times, what human being wants to suffer? Maybe you feel that you've already suffered enough, so the thought of having to face what has hurt you terrifies you.
I get it. In my book, I shared a quote by Peter Rollins, "If you cannot speak your brokenness, your brokenness will speak for you.” This is how I interpret that statement. The IT in your life probably broke you. IT probably broke your soul, your spirit, and your ability to trust. IT has probably created fears so deep that you prefer to keep IT tucked away so no one, including yourself, can revisit IT.
Believe it or not, your brokenness has already spoken for you. It's spoken to people (whether intentionally or unintentionally) in the form of misdirected anger, irritation, or avoidance. Every time you allow it to speak for you, you’re either dumping more dirt where you are or pouring more water in the dirt pile only creating a thicker mud puddle. That place will keep you stuck.
That is why you must get tired of being stuck. If you're sick and tired of being sick and tired of being here then believe it or not, that's a good thing! Why and how? That's because you can use that energy of being tired of repeating the cycle of hurting yourself and others to create the change you want to see in your life. Those feelings of fatigue will fuel your willingness to get out! Use that energy wisely. Now, it’s time to push yourself.
3. Process the pain.
Now that you've decided to get IT out and you're ready to move forward, now you must process the pain. In just about every single one of my blogs, I will always advocate for seeking professional help. Not because I want your business (but I do if you feel I'm a good match for you:) but because we really have to be open to seeking out help beyond our friends and family.
They're probably getting on your nerves anyway, and vice versa! I don't mean that in a negative way, I just mean when people are not equipped to give you exactly what you need to move forward, it will cause frustration on all parties. Your family and friends can only give you so much, but let this be an indicator that it's time to step outside of them to gain more tools that will specifically help you process the pain. This will require someone who can listen to what you're NOT saying. Someone who can understand the IT in your life and help you talk through, cry through, and discover some effective ways to help you let IT go little by little. Processing is necessary but it’s certainly not easy.
4. Easier said than done.
Okay, I had to add this one. Letting IT go is oh so necessary, but it's easier said than done. That is why you must surround yourself with people who can support you when you want to remain stuck in fear of letting it go because maybe this IT has become a comfort to you. Maybe you're afraid to see what life is like without IT because you've become accustomed to the dysfunction. My friend, that is not God's will for you! He wants you to rise above IT so you can see that you were meant for so much more than mud baths! This will be a difficult process, but it's doable.
Next, grace yourself with a cushion of failure. Meaning, you may not always get it right, but remember you're on the path of getting it right. Don't allow those failures or setbacks, keep you back. Use that feeling of failure to once again fuel your willingness to keep moving towards your freedom. You’ve come too far to quit!
Maybe it will be three steps back after the initial step, but keep pushing towards forward movement. You’ll look up one day and see that the steps forward you have made despite the steps back have taken you much further than you could ever imagine. This is where your change will be manifested! It won't be easy, but you have to trust the process.
We can never talk too much about forgiveness. Our whole life revolves around our ability and willingness to forgive. Forgiveness means "giving up the right to back at someone." It also means giving up the right to punish someone who did you wrong. You're not entitled to make someone pay for their wrongdoing, even though you may feel that you are. The truth, that is not your lane anyway. The more we attempt to punish others for what they've done wrong, we're actually damaging ourselves. That is why God always commands us to forgive. It really is for us. It releases negative thoughts, feelings and toxins from our body.
If we fail to forgive it can create bitterness which hardens the heart. This can create physical issues as well. According to a Professor of Psychology at Concordia University, “feeling bitter interferes with the body's hormonal and immune systems. Studies have shown that bitter, angry people have higher blood pressure and heart rate and are more likely to die of heart disease and other illnesses.” In addition, Elizabeth Cohen, Senior Medical Correspondent of CNN stated, “Bitterness…goes on and on. It increases blood pressure and certain chemicals in our body eventually taking a toll on the heart and other parts of the body.”
This is not to put fear in your heart, but it’s to reveal truth. Your very life could depend upon your ability to forgive. How do you forgive? Remember how God has forgiven you. Remember how He could have kept you in the mud when you truly DID/DO deserve it but, " He (God) does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103: 10-12).
Can you try finding the start and stopping point of east to west? If you find it let me know. That would discredit the meaning of this scripture. God removes our wrongs so far from us we won’t be able to find it. We don’t deserve it…AT ALL, but He loves us/you that much. Therefore, we are told to extend this same type of grace towards others.
Let IT go. Let HIM go. Let HER go. Let THEM go. The greater the offense, the greater your opportunity to extend grace to the person who needs it. It doesn't mean you have to reconcile and go be their best buddy, it just means you're freeing yourself from their offense.
Next, pray for them. That's right...it may even be forced at first. Pray for them and ask God to have mercy on them, the way He has had mercy on you. You continue to pray this until that feeling of anger or pain associated to that IT is no longer present. Pray yourself into peace. Oh, might I add, even if that IT is you. It's time to forgive you for what you've done to yourself and others. You deserve it most.
6. Pick Up Your Mat
The Healing at the Pool (John 5: 1-8)
"Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked."
Do you want to be healed? Pick up your mat and walk.
Often times, people who may say they want to let IT go is just looking for someone else to do the work for them. The IT has created a sense of entitlement, anger, laziness, or self-pity that has created a comfortable place on that mat. This reminds me of this guy in scripture who had been on his mat for 38 years!
I'm usually very understanding when it comes to topics like this because it's a sensitive one. Not everyone will want to hear this but sometimes we all need tough love. Did you ever think that it could be your fault for the reason why you're still stuck in the mud? One quote I read stated, "Your wound is probably not your fault, but your healing is your responsibility." The hurt or wrong people have caused you is wrong.You have no control over the decisions they made towards you so that isn’t your fault. I can’t emphasize that enough! However, as unfair as it may be, it really is your responsibility to receive your healing.
Now, I want you to think about the people who may be offering you lifesavers, ropes, and sticks to pull you out of the mud, but because you may feel or think it's not the way you want it, you ignore it. Maybe you don't take hold of it because deep down you really like being in the mud? I'm not diminishing those who really want to get out and are seeking ways to get out. However, there may be someone reading this who simply refuse to do the work. If you refuse, then you can expect to stay on your mat because healing requires action.
My sister, Porshea Wilkins said it best, "You have to participate in your own rescue." If someone throws you a lifesaver, they're not going to throw themselves out there with it. If both of you are in the same position, you will both drown. However, if one person is in a better position to help (in a boat, on dry land - a representation of solid ground/footing) then you must be willing "to grab" the lifesaver so they can pull you out of that drowning place. If you want to Let IT go, you must be a willing participant. I pray this tough love will put some fire under you to pick up that mat and walk towards your healing because my Sis or my Bro…it is time!
Lastly, I want to share why I chose this picture as the cover art. When I was initially looking for pictures I wanted hands releasing something, but I thought nah, that's too cliché. When I stumbled across this picture, I knew it was the one for this post! This is what I saw.
Someone in the dark which represents their reality. However, darkness is immediately diminished by light. The more light that’s let in, the darkness dissipates. As you identify the IT in your life and you couple that with your willingness to let IT go, you're opening the jars of your heart to release that person, anger, guilt, shame, regret, etc. (whatever IT is). The more you choose to let those things go, while opening the jars of your heart to someone you can trust, the burdens of your heart lessen and the darkness will begin to diminish.
What was once stones of pain becomes buds of light drifting away like a feather blowing in the wind. Your willingness to let IT go will determine how bright you want your path to be. Holding onto IT will keep you hidden away in your inward, cold dark place. God has chosen you to shine bright for the world to see. I know it can be scary, but today, ask God to give you both, courage, a specific trusted person/professional counselor that can provide you with patience so you can remove the lid off of your closed heart. It's time to release the inner beauty I know possess.
It's time to get out of the mud and receive the help you need. It’s time to release your pain so that you can embrace a better present, beautiful future, and A NEW ME!
"I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand."
(Psalm 40: 1-2)
I hope this blog has educated, encouraged, and equipped you! Please feel free to share, leave comments, and tag others who could benefit from this topic.
With gentle, yet tough love today! - Dr. E
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Dussault, P. (2014). Why it may be so hard for you to let go. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/pamela-dussault/why-it-may-be-so-hard-for_b_4301700.html