Letting go does not mean getting rid of, but simply letting be
What is the problem with holding on, i.e. the opposite of letting go, and how do I recognize it? What does letting go have to do with my feelings about lipedema? What challenges can I actually face during this process of letting go? And why it is worth giving it a try? After all, Buddha claims it to be the key to happiness.
Searching for security
I held and clung onto, I gathered, I accumulated, I collected: objects (everywhere in the apartment, preferably in my handbag - among my favorites promotional pens, in the basement, in the desk drawer...), personal relationships (friendships, acquaintances, with (former) business partners, colleagues...), outdated goals, negative thoughts or beliefs, unhealthy behaviors, worries about the future or the extra punds around my hips. In the extreme form as lipedema, i.e. a variant in which neither diet nor exercise lead to weight loss.
A bit as if this part of me still hadn't left the cave with the hunters and gatherers and never arrived in the 21st century. These things, relationships, thinking structures were well known to me, felt quite familiar so to say and it cost me quite a lot of courage, effort and strength to give up on this so called security. Because what was waiting for me on the opposite shore? That moment when you let go, swim and have no idea if it's worth it.
What did I carry around in my backpack of life day after day?
I imagine myself being born as a baby with an empty backpack and embarking on my journey of life. Over the years I stowed away therein all the things hat seemed important and impressive to me on my way and with which I had an intense emotional relationship. Here a souvenir of life and there a memory, a negative belief about myself that I had adopted unfiltered or heard and felt so often that I believed it to be true. Over time my backpack got heavier and heavier.
Until I reached the point when I could hardly shoulder it by myself, let alone put one foot in front of the other with ease. And then I wished for nothing more than that someone would finally take this burden off my shoulders. Spoiler alert: The only person who is able to do that - was, always has been and always will be: me. When I let go, I make an active decision, namely to look ahead, away from the stressful situations, objects, people from my past and towards the future. I often felt obliged due to a common history, an old commitment or social expectations, but the following questions helped me: "How would I feel about this person if we weren't e.g. related by blood or didn't share this past? How much time would I spend with him/her? And is this someone I would like to share my future with?"
Now what does letting go have to do with feelings about lipedema?
Many women affected by lipedema, as I was as well, are fixated on what the scale (bathroom floor b**** as I called her) says and how they can finally get rid of those extra pounds with the next diet regimen and even more exercise. Sport is then no longer a way to reduce stress, to recover, to bring movement into the system after long periods of sitting, but instead becomes a means of pressure. Nutrition then does not serve to maintain vital processes, but is instrumentalized to e.g. to gain control over a process that can only be controlled to a limited extent. I couldn't get anything positive out of my lipedema fat, absolutely nothing! And the mere thought that lipedema could have a positive intention in my life initially seemed not less than totally absurd to me. Getting rid of it was my stated goal! The more I struggled, the more I focused on this supposed flaw, and the more I became my lipedema. In the mirror I only saw the lipedema, nothing left of all the other qualities that define me - inside out. It wasn't until I accepted myself, let myself be, that was able to change.
What challenges did I encounter while "clearing out emotions"?
The first important step was to become aware of myself more than anything else, to take out everything - bit by bit, to look at each piece and assess what had bound my energy and attention for such a long time. I was able to experience a real emotional chaos, one of despair, sadness, fear e.g. of loss, hurt, but also feelings of guilt, shame, difficulties in imagining wanting to make a decision, anger, injustice, shame, and a lack of acceptance, resignation and discontent with my own past and fate...
For fear of further injury, out of a felt need for protection, because I had suppressed traumas and not yet "digested" them, assuming that I had build up stocks for bad times - to be prepared for the next (emotional) attack. But when I hold onto all of these things, I focus my attention and energy on the negatives, the ghosts of the past, instead of my goals in the future and the realization of my dreams.
When the time is right
Perhaps now you have reached that point in your life when you become aware of how much your entire collection of things, feelings, relationships, of this and that feels like a burden and weighs you down. The point at which you decide to live a different future! Perhaps you feel torn between the feeling of wanting to please others, of maintaining harmony and finally being able to be emotionally free and at ease? You may also notice how you construct stories in your head about why you still need things in your life. And that's ok! Just observe yourself and remember my story:
A few years ago I diligently cleared out the apartment, drawer by drawer, cupboard by cupboard and room by room. When I got to the tablecloths, I thought, phew, I actually don't like tablecloths, in the end somehow sauce always ends up on them, you have to iron them, etc. Anyway, I inherited tablecloths - in large quantities and for every conceivable occasion. With some it was easy for me to sort them out and with others it wasn't.
But when I caught myself picking up an Easter tablecloth and the following scene ran in my mind's eye: oh well, that would be kind of nice if grandma came over to celebrate Easter and we had coffee together in the garden, then can I choose this tablecloth.
- Both my grandmothers died many years ago
- I am not too big on the whole Easter celebration
- and I don't have a garden like at all!
So why did I hold onto this tablecloth at first? Out of a sense of guilt and nostalgia, it must have been expensive and the person who had given it to me meant it well and I was grateful that I was considered. But what did I want? Definitely no more tablecloths, that was clear to me at this point. Always doing the right thing for others, definitely not anymore. To be free, to let go, that's what I wanted. And with every part I let go, I got lighter.
My thoughts on this are very clear: inside as outside and outside as inside. If my space is organized, neat and clean, I feel relaxed, structured and in balance on the inside.As with the objects, I also captured emotions, old behaviors and negative spirals of thought in my system and also in my body, often of course unconsciously. Over and over again I got on the thought loop carousel, only to get out of the same point where I got on, so not one step closer to my goal. In the stupidest of all scenarios, I felt sick on top. So it was a matter of treading new paths and exploring, doing things differently. You decide which path you choose.
Many of my friends have young children, whenever I watch them play, they just let go (without throwing away what they were holding on to), if something else attracts their attention, they follow their goal. Like a magical string that directs its gaze to the object of desire. How can you regain this quality?
As soon as you are ready...to be
To accept the past is to acknowledge what was. It doesn't mean to forget, but it means you are no longer dragging this old energy around with you and you are also not taking it with you into your future. You let it be. You perceive what it makes you feels without judging. You experience the here and now, in which you feel what is currently and allow the feelings without suppressing them. Observe your own story for a moment from the perspective of the eagle. Because as much as you may wish that sometimes, you cannot change some things and especially other people. So please don't waste any time trying. The only person in your sphere of influence is you.
The beautiful butterfly lets go of its shell, its cocoon. As a caterpillar it needed this in order to grow, evolve and become the beautiful butterfly.
So remember, every single encounter, every single act, every single experience - negative as well as positive - make you the person you are today. Have the confidence, not only that there is a solution (meaning to loosen up, let go an action or process of solving a problem), but that you can and will manage to change and shape your situation according to your ideas. Showing yourself in your true core, without protective armor takes courage.
I would love for you to try this for yourself:
- 1Take a blank piece of paper and write down all those things that come to your mind.
- 2Take a walk, stroll through your apartment, wander and observe like if you were to see it for the very first time. Take a look at your handbag (what's inside, how is it organized...), open up closets and drawers. Observe without judging. And add to your list.
- 3Now do the same with relationships. Then take into consideration old goals, negative beliefs and recurring thoughts. Everything that occurs to you from all the different areas of your life. This might take a while 😉
- 4Now ask yourself: which of these do I want to take with me into my future? I mean: what do you really want to take with you, accepting no compromises. Free from feelings of guilt, shame, nostalgia...just because granny bequeathed you the Easter tablecloth. Maybe it's best to use a different color for this one.
- 5Start your own process of letting go - step by step in your own pace! Remember this is nothing that will magically and dramatically happen from one day to the next. So please remain patient, loving and mindful with yourself and above all proceed in your own pace. No matter what everyone else does and thinks.
- 6Just to make sure, in case you are wondering, what the right pace and the right things to let go are: it is whatever YOU decide. That is what makes it exactly right. Direct is more important than speed.
Unlock your inner beauty, your path of life!
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