I posted on Instagram yesterday about how autumn is the season for letting go. But in all honesty it was a bit hypocritical. I have historically not been good at letting go. I have held on to boyfriends, toxic people, food I don’t like and shoes I can’t walk in for longer than I care to think about. And it’s made me feel like such a failure – every time. Being unable to let go seemed to come with the message that I’m just not up to scratch, like I’ve not really grown up and I’m weak. I know this guy is hurting me so why can’t I drop him like the feisty queen I hope my friends see me as? Why do I keep wearing shoes that give me bleeding blisters just to make my legs look thinner or keep agreeing to just one more coffee with that friend who always makes me feel like I’m not good enough?
I have spent quite a long time feeling rubbish about things like this. But when I put aside the self shaming and reach for some compassion instead one word starts to emerge: hope. I always hoped that people would do better or that I’d break in the shoes etc. It was an admirable sentiment – nothing wrong with looking for the best in people or footwear. But I began to realise that this Hope was a sort of shadow kind of hope. It was a hope that ignored what my instinct was saying and one that was being powered by fear.
*I hope he can change.. because I’m too scared of being alone to break up with him
*I hope she starts being nice to me.. because it’s so hard to make new friends
*I hope I wear these shoes in.. because if I can’t wear high heels what kind of woman am I
It’s not difficult to see that the latter statements were where the problem lay. They made me feel stuck and trapped and were causing me to cling to things that deep down I knew weren’t right for me. Every time the idea of letting go came up these fears jumped in to stop it happening.
I feel like what’s missing from the discussion on letting go is what you actually need to let go of – and the fact that you don’t have to do this until you’re ready. No matter how many times other well intentioned people tell you to “just move on” because they love you and want to see you happy you won’t be able to do it unless you’re ready. – unless you’ve processed these fears. And you don’t have to do it to someone else’s timetable. Being ready might mean just letting yourself sit with the sadness of a break up and, yes, Insta stalking the person you think is your ex partner’s new flame. Or it might mean wearing those shoes out again and being reminded how that extra height isn’t worth the blisters. As long as you’re kind to yourself throughout the process – don’t shame or criticise the steps that you need to take right now, set yourself some boundaries so that you don’t veer into the destructive and keep working on your confidence and self esteem – there will come a point when you don’t feel like you need to do these things anymore because you’ve done the processing. At that point letting go doesn’t feel forced or frighteningly painful – it can still be uncomfortable and unnerving but you’ll do it because you’re ready.
So yes, use the autumn season to be inspired to joyfully let go of the things that no longer serve you if that’s where you’re at. If you feel like you can’t then maybe have a look and see what’s standing in the way of what you want to release and work on letting go of that instead. But if nothing feels ready to go yet then don’t force it. Keep being kind to yourself, making space for continued self awareness and listening to what comes up when you do. Then you’ll probably find that release happens naturally when the time is right for you.