If you have taken a yoga class, the phrase "let go of what no longer serves you" is probably familiar. These words are often shared in the beginning of class when gearing up to begin a practice of being in the moment, intentionally breathing and moving without judgement. I love this expression and believe it can be taken beyond the yoga studio into daily life. It starts as a reminder to yourself. This reminder can then develop into a consistent practice of letting go of the things that are holding you back in order to create a life more aligned with what you want. By letting go of what is no longer serving a purpose in your life you allow yourself to move forward and grow. Here are five tips on how you can begin to let go of the things that are no longer serving you.
- Become aware of what is not serving you. Maybe it is a limiting belief, such as "I can't do this," or maybe it is a routine, like overworking yourself without any self-care. It could even be a person, a location or a type of food. If something is not working for you the first step to moving past it is to become aware of what it is. Chances are you are already experiencing some sort of discomfort which is alerting you to the "it’s not working" feeling about one or more things in your life.
- Once you are aware, start being mindful of how this discomfort is impacting your life. For example, every time you tell yourself you cannot do something you lower your self-confidence. This lower self-confidence leads to distress and lack of motivation to push yourself forward. In turn, this makes it difficult for you to accomplish goals and triggers a nasty downward spiral of negativity. Being mindful of this will bring to light just how powerful one small thought can be. Understanding the power of our thoughts and harnessing that power can be the catalyst for positive change.
- Ask “What is within my power to change?” If something deeply affects you but it does not appear to be possible to change you have to look within. Some things, like the way others interact with you is not within your power to change. Instead of harboring negative emotions every time this occurs, you can save yourself a lot of suffering by adjusting how you internalize what is bothering you rather than expecting others to act differently. If something is within your power to change, like an unhealthy relationship, imagine what your life could be like without that toxic relationship.
- Be honest with yourself about what is possible to let go of right now. Sometimes letting go is simple whereas other times it can be really, really scary. Be honest and realistic with yourself about what you are ready to let go of. Maybe your job is creating a lot of misery and discomfort in your life but you are not ready to leave. Instead of feeling helpless about not being able to change anything, be honest about your boundaries and limitations and evaluate what is possible to change. Chances are, you are able to change some aspect of the situation, even if it is internally. Small changes like this can have a major positive impact.
- Utilize forgiveness, not just with others but with yourself too. When you let go of things that have created a lot of negativity in your life, it is natural for unpleasant emotions to come up in the process. Maybe you are angry with yourself for how long you held onto something or maybe you are projecting your anger outwards onto someone else. Either way, forgiveness is a powerful tool and allows you to begin moving on and moving forward. The quote "forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace" is especially meaningful to remember in this process.
You are the one that creates the atmosphere of the world you are living in. Is it one of peace and happiness or one of discomfort and stress? Both of these and everything in between is a choice. Recognize that you can always make the choice to let go of things. I make no illusions about how difficult this may be, however, remember that it is always possible.