Autumn reminds us how beautiful it can be to let things go.
I love Autumn. It’s a feast for the senses. The blazing colours, crunchy leaves, bright sunny days, earthy smells. Maybe it’s just me, but Autumn this year has seemed even more beautiful than usual. Watching nature let go and die down in readiness for winter has reminded me of the importance of letting go in areas of my own life.
Letting go is a key part of Mindfulness. We have a tendency to grasp and cling on to what feels pleasant and automatically push away what feels uncomfortable and unpleasant. When we do this, we resist the natural flow of life, where things inherently come and go. The resistance to what is, creates stress and requires a lot of energy. And it takes us away from being in the present moment.
So in the spirit of Autumn, here are some ideas for things we can let go of:
Do you have any habits you know you’d benefit from changing or tweaking? It could be drinking too much coffee, checking your phone too often, not getting enough sleep. I’m working on changing my habit of going to bed too late. I love the quiet of the evening, but enjoying this time, often ends up with me not going to bed early enough.
Perhaps you have some habitual ways of thinking about yourself that no longer serve you or aren’t helpful. We often have stories we interpreted from situations years ago, that we still automatically tell ourselves, like, “I’m not good enough”, “I’m not creative”, “I’m too loud”. The first step to changing old stories is becoming aware of them and then deliberately and consciously replacing them with new, more positive stories.
Things we can’t control
We often spend energy on things we have little or no control over. Like traffic, the weather, unreasonable behaviour from others. We can find it hard to accept what’s happening in the moment. Maybe it feels really unfair to be stuck in traffic or for it to be raining on our only day off. We resist what is already happening and can become resentful and reactive; perhaps shouting at the traffic jam or moaning endlessly about the cold, rainy day to whoever will listen. And this often just ends up making us feel worse.
A more helpful approach is to let go of resistance to what is happening and try to accept the present moment just as it is. This is not the same as resigning ourselves to a bad situation or giving up. We can still make choices and do things to improve the situation, but can do so from a place of acceptance and calm rather than resistance and reactivity. We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can try and let go of resistance to it and focus instead on choosing our response.
Are there people and activities in your life that drain your energy? Sometimes we aren’t even aware that our energy is being siphoned off until afterwards. The more mindful we are of our energy levels, the better we can evaluate how we want to spend our time. We can practice checking in with ourselves and asking whether an activity is depleting or nourishing us. We can then see whether it’s possible to let go of any of the depleters, or make small tweaks to improve the unavoidable ones. Sometimes just changing our attitude about a draining activity, can really help.
Having too much or disorganised stuff can really affect us. How much stuff do you need? What can you let go of or reorganise? I’ve recently just used a couple of free days to declutter at home. I’m not naturally very tidy, (as any of my friends would tell you!) and doing it was hard work. But it feels amazing now! Too much stuff can make us feel heavy and restricted, and getting rid of things can lighten and energise us.
Happy November and Happy letting go!