A Journey of Letting Go
I wanted to write about the practice of letting go of old thoughts, beliefs and stories. This is such a juicy and loaded topic, but one that is relevant to all of us. See, we all hold on to past experiences to some degree, but these can be stored in ways that maybe no longer serve us. We are all trying to grow and survive and improve. I hope that these words help you in that journey, and at the very least help you recognise that you are not alone.
Your Ego Is Not Your Amigo
Our identity is not limited to our thoughts, emotions or past experiences. Rather, the part of us that identifies with these is our ‘ego’ – our ‘I’ self. This is the part that keeps us safe –
“I won’t touch that naked flame – it burned me last time”
Like I said, the ego is only one part of us, and it often holds on to fear. It’s the part of us that can also keep us stuck based on these historic fear stories –
“I won’t ever fall in love so deeply again – my last heartbreak nearly destroyed me”
“My parents/caregiver hurt me when they said that I talk too loud, so I better keep quiet”
I talk with a lot of my transformative coaching clients about how we aren’t our thoughts/emotions. So, if your identity is not limited to the sum of your thoughts and experiences, then who are you? And how do we practice letting go of our thoughts and experiences to become our true selves?
“The voice in your head is not who you really are. You are the one who observes it.”
I remember the first time I heard this concept. It was mind-blowing for me! I identified so strongly with my thinking mind, and realising that I didn’t have to act on those thoughts, or that they weren’t necessarily even true, was a huge journey in itself.
I think of our true selves as the observer. The calm, content and joyful part of us. The part of us that is unshakeable, strong and grounded. Our integrity, intuition and inner power all come from our true selves.
There are two main emotions that we experience, and every other emotion can be a manifestation of one of them. These two primary emotions are …
Love and Fear
Anger, sadness, regret, grief, loneliness, self-criticism, rejection or despair, anxiety or envy – they are all based in Fear.
Contentment, joy, passion, calm, awe, gratitude, pride, hope, inspiration and amusement – these are all derived from Love.
If our ego is Fear then I believe our true selves to be Love.
So, at our very centre, we have a core of Love. Our Highest Self, our True Self, who is grounded, calm, grateful, resilient, free. That said, I know a lot of people who I work with don’t feel any of those things when we start our journey together. So many of us experience stress, anxiety, numbness, sadness and loneliness on a regular basis.
I think of these feelings like layers that lie over our True Selves. They do not change who we really are at our core. This is another huge concept that I explore in depth with so many of my clients.
Layers and Layers
If who we are at our centre, our Highest Selves, is comprised of love and joy and all of the good stuff, why do we feel so disconnected from these emotions?
This is how I visualise it:
Every time something happens to us that we perceive as negative, we often store it and create a story. Our ego can use an incident that makes us experience mistrust, or jealousy, or hurt, and create a whole story about why we should never let that happen to us again. Understandably so – our ego’s role after all is to keep us safe and to protect us!
However, some of those stories create a layer over our True Selves. This can be a protective mechanism, but it’s not always helpful long term. This is much like the ‘Fight or Flight’ physical response to external stressors – which can be an extreme reaction now that stressors are often work deadlines and not being chased down by a pack of lions!
So, our ego adds these fear layers over our True Selves, as a defence to keep us safe. But these defence layers are walls – and they need maintenance. And sometimes maintaining those defences can be just as stressful as the original stressor in itself! If you ever have felt like your world has had to shrink just so that you could get by, that is why.
“So, I can’t go there in case…”
“I can’t do this because…”
“No, I don’t let these types of people in to my life because…”
These layers can mount up – and I’m sure a lot of us can relate to this in some form!
But we are still the same person underneath it all. We just need the courage to challenge these layers of fear, one at a time, baby step after baby step.
It’s hard to let go of these layers if we’re still feeling under threat.
Letting Go of Layers, and Cultivating The Courage to Find Ourselves
It takes courage to let go of the things we have been holding on to. We are at our bravest when we are compassionate and kind towards ourselves. Approach this journey with gentle curiosity.
Our ego learned to build these layers after experiences that happened to us. Maybe they protected us at a particular time, maybe even now still, but there will come a point where maintaining these layers comes at a cost.
We can start off by building awareness of this. Listen to the stories our egos have created about why we can’t do/be/achieve something. Understand where these stories, these layers, have come from. And explore whether they serve you now.
The bravest journey of all is when we then start to let go of these stories. Unravelling these layers can sound scary before we start! However, we can approach this process of letting go with Love, self-kindness, patience and compassion. This brave process can then become a journey of coming back home – back to our Highest Selves.
Over to You!
Figuring out old stories, releasing layers of fear, and letting go of limiting beliefs is something I do with a lot of my coaching clients. If you would like to find out more about my transformative coaching work, you can find out more information here, or get in touch to arrange an informal chat about what coaching involves and how I can help you.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this juicy topic. Let me know in the comments below!