It’s Time! 5 Steps to Finally Letting it Go

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Jamie C. WilliamsonBy Jamie C. Williamson, PhD

Fall is the time when trees remind us how important – and beautiful—it can be to let things go.

As the days grow shorter, trees sense the natural loss of light and undergo chemical changes that causes their leaves to shift from a green pigment to the colorful yellow, orange, and red we associate with autumn’s unique beauty.

Lovely as this is, it happens because the trees block the veins that move water to the leaves. Once a leaf is completely choked off, it is detached from the tree. The trees know that letting go of the leaves is necessary if they are to cope well during winter and thrive in the spring.

So, how do you let go of what is draining your energy and threatening your ability to thrive?

Follow these 5 steps.
1. Face reality. Identify the aspect of your current or past circumstances that drains your energy, keeps you agitated, and threatens your overall happiness.

2. Assess your reasons for holding on. What do you keep telling yourself that justifies holding on to someone or some feeling that brings you no joy, drags you down, or is toxic for you? What rationale do you use to deny reality and prolong your ability to let the heavy burden go? Read these common examples.

a. My inattentive husband will show more affection to me if I just lose these 20 pounds I gained since we got married.

b. She cheated on me. She and her boyfriend destroyed my life and shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it. I’m going to get a cut-throat lawyer and make her life miserable.

3. Reframe your reality. Rephrase the way you think about your situation and acknowledge your personal power and responsibility for your own happiness.

Delusional thinking and denial involve a misplaced sense of personal power. When people distort the reality of their relationships, they accept the belief that they have the power to change others – which, of course, they do not. Nobody does.

When people manufacture distortions, they embrace the belief that they have no power to change themselves or their reactions to the people or past events in their lives – which of course, they do. Everybody does.

Face the facts. Then reframe your response, so that you are the hero of your story, not the victim. Using our examples:

a. My husband is indifferent to me and has been for some time. I’m a vibrant woman. I’ll invite him to marriage counseling. If he won’t go, I’ll leave him so that I can be free to enter a new relationship with someone who loves me, just the way I am.

b. My wife was unfaithful to me, which is not ok. But her affair was a symptom of the problems in our marriage. We were both unhappy. I will stop hating because she actually did me a favor. Now I am free to build a truly happy life with someone else.

4. Forgive others and yourself. Reframing your story is an important step up to the high ground of forgiveness. Forgiveness challenges most people because they feel that if they let go of their anger, they are either giving up or giving in. But forgiveness is neither – it is LETTING GO.

Forgiving others releases you from the hold they have on you so you can truly let go of your hurt, anger, or disappointment.

Forgiving yourself, while also making amends to those you wronged, liberates you from the self-imposed shackles of shame, embarrassment, guilt, and remorse.

Forgiveness – for yourself or others – brings out your vibrant colors, cuts off the water supply to your pain, and allows the spent leaves of the past to fall gracefully to the ground, making it possible for you to prepare for and thrive in your new life.

5. Improve the present. Accept responsibility for letting go of what drains your energy and keeps you from thriving. Use your lessons learned to boldly face the facts and replace your denial and delusional thinking with acceptance and an authentic assessment of your reality.
Decide to change the way you respond to your circumstances. Write down your revised story that makes you the hero (without villainizing others).

Set goals for a stable, happy future. Make a list. Commit to and plan for making progress. Cross at least one thing off each day.

When your leaves of anger, resentment, disappointment, and heartache fall away, you will be much stronger and ready to prepare for your own delightful spring.

Jamie C. Williamson, PhD is a FL Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator and Couples Counselor. She is an owner and partner at Amity Mediation Workshop, a mediation practice specializing in “friendly divorce” mediation and psycho-educational marriage revitalization sessions for couples. Dr. Jamie speaks frequently on relationship topics and authors the blog “Work it Out”. You can find her online at amitymediationworkshop.com.