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the dandelion; nature's lesson in letting go

“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.”

Eckhart Tolle


Hi friends! Today I wanted to talk about one of the hardest things to do for some of us and that is the act of letting go. There are many aspects in life that we hold on to, even if we know we shouldn’t. These can include anger, love, something from our past, memories, bad experiences, or things we regret. Letting go is a step towards freedom, which is an experience we all long for. We all want to feel free because it’s a natural human right. So why do we hold on to things that are painful when we know letting them go will help us feel better? I think this is one of the most complex ideas in our society that has been discussed in different contexts. For me, letting go has been a concept I just cannot grasp. I have never understood how to let go of things, so they sit and stew inside me. Because of it, I have been in scenarios that trigger a certain reaction in me that I was not expecting at all. They come out of nowhere and when I sit and ponder it, I realize it was something that I never full let go of and it was just waiting for the perfect opportunity to pounce.

There are some things today I wanted to talk about that if I would learn the art of letting go, things would be much less stressful to me. They are things I didn’t even think much of until I started writing this post, so bear with me as I discuss different aspects of life that if we learn to let go of, we can lead a happier life.

One of the first things that we tend to hold on to are past experiences that aren’t that pleasant. Everyone has different reasons for holding on, but some may do it because they are trying to make sense of it. For some people, it can be hard to fully accept and let go of something painful unless we are able to understand why it happened in the first place. For example, I have talked in previous posts about my relationship with my dad and how we didn’t always get along. The hurt I felt sometimes from our relationship was hard to let go of, even years after he passed, because he was my dad, and I didn’t want to believe that as a parent he wanted to have me feel that kind of pain. I tried to make sense of it by talking to family or my therapist and finally one day I decided to write a letter to him and read it out loud. While writing this letter, I realized that for different circumstances that I will touch on in a later post, my dad couldn’t help who he was anymore than I can help me having anxiety. Once I came to this understanding it helped me realize that my dad did love me in the way he knew how, and I was able to let go of my painful memories and feel peace with my relationship I had with him. I can’t even explain to you how liberating of a feeling it was to have all of those years of pent up anger and resentment just flow away like the wind and just feel calm inside of me. Now when I talk about my dad or look back on our relationship, I look at the happy memories and remember that he was ultimately a good guy.

With my past experiences, I was able to learn how to let go, because I made sense of them. There is an experience in my life currently that I am having a hard time learning how to let go of because I can’t make sense of it. I have explained in previous posts about how I have OCD and for those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. My OCD is revolved around intrusive thoughts, which are basically random thoughts that make a person uncomfortable and can cause a lot of stress when you sit and ruminate over them. Letting go is literally the treatment for OCD, but it is the hardest for me to do. Because this concept is hard to grasp when you don’t experience it, I will do my best to explain it. When I have an intrusive thought, an example of one is, “if you pick that shirt to wear today, something bad will happen”. To a person who doesn’t experience OCD, if you had that thought, you could just probably go, “wow that was a weird though. Oh, well.” and move on with your day. When I have that thought in the morning and I decide to wear the shirt, all day I will feel on edge waiting for something bad to happen.

The reason this type of OCD is hard to explain is because when I am sitting here talking about it, I understand that it doesn’t make sense. I understand that my mind doesn’t have that kind of control over what’s going to happen to me that day, but for some reason, my body reacts to it as if it were the ultimate truth. The way to treat this type of OCD is when I have a thought like, “if you pick that shirt to wear today, something bad will happen”, I am supposed to pick the shirt and let the thought go. Don’t add any emotional attachment to it. Act like it’s nothing. That seems so simple when I am typing it out, but when I am in the moment, it’s very hard to ignore. I have been explained to before that the reason my body feels so uncomfortable when it happens is because I am essentially ‘rewiring’ my mind. So for this treatment, I need to let go of the thought and be okay with the uncomfortable feeling that follows until my mind is back to a ‘new normal’ where I can have a thought and let it go as soon as I have it. If you have any experience with this type of OCD, please share your insight into it. It’s a difficult thing to explain and try to work through at times.

The other part of one’s life that can be hard to let go of involves love. I’m sure all of us at some point had someone we cared very much about and had a hard time letting go of the relationship after it had ended. This can be for a number of reasons. Maybe we hold on to the memories. Maybe it was our first love and that feeling alone can be hard to give up. Or maybe there’s a chance you two will work it out and you don’t want to miss out on that chance by letting them go. Whatever your reason is or was it can be hard to let go because love is a different beast of its own. It’s something most books, movies, and poems are written about as it can be an all-consuming feeling. People make serious life changes just for love, like moving, giving up careers, or changing how they view life in general.

With other things in my life, I have learned that making sense of something is how I let go of it, which is the same way I would have to in this area. When there is a situation where two people still care very much about each other but they just don’t work, it is best to make sense of why you aren’t together anymore. Maybe one person was unfaithful or maybe the relationship was toxic or any other reason out there. If we make sense of it and accept it, it is easier to move on because we have closure on the situation. Now, not everyone needs closure with things, but some people, like me, need it to move on.

to be a dandelion in the field

seeds floating away with the wind

letting go of the root holding them back

a lesson in nature for us to learn within

oh, how I aspire to be a dandelion

There are so many times in life that we may know we need to let go of something that is difficult to do. And everyone has their own way of letting go. I’ve heard of times when people write all of their stressors on different rocks and fill a backpack with them. Then they hike up on top of a hill or bluff and throw each rock one by one off the side of the cliff representing throwing away their stress. Another one I have heard of is someone writing a letter or list of everything that stresses them out and then burning it and letting the stress flow away with the smoke. Whatever your strategy for letting go is, I am happy that you found it. Letting things go is a step towards being free from the weight of anything that can hold you back. It is a step towards being happy and at peace with yourself. If you have any strategies for letting go that have worked for you and you feel comfortable sharing, please let me know. Thank you again for continuing on this journey with me. Stay tuned, friends.

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