Below is a very short transcript of an actual conversation that happened via text just a few short days ago. It doesn’t matter who it was with, or even the context surrounding this exchange; what matters is the concept of letting go of our past selves, especially our major decisions and mistakes. It’s only important to note this person is in the top five major influences in my life, we love each other dearly, and they’ve always been a major source of encouragement and solace for me. We can often learn more about ourselves from the advice we give others. It is far more difficult to turn that wisdom within and free ourselves from whatever burden we’ve chosen to carry thus far.
Perhaps you can read through this short conversation and fill in your own blanks. What decision or version of yourself are you still carrying around with you today? Imagine if you let it, and you, go. The filter through which you perceive the world just may clear, it most certainly will adjust, and your vision for the future will be renewed. The mechanisms you use to defend and protect yourself will begin to soften, and the darkness you’re so determined to cling to will no longer survive once you’ve made the conscious choice to lighten your load.
Lighten up. You deserve it.
Me: And let go of every single shred of guilt you have left. Each choice you made was the right decision at the time. No more agonizing now. I respect your decision. Fuck everyone else.
Loved one: Wow...thank you
Me: No thank you necessary. I’m telling you the truth and it’s probably something you should hear because I don’t think you tell yourself this enough. Forgiveness of yourself is the most important decision you can make.
Loved one: Still a very difficult part of my past, but I can’t change it
Me: Yes, difficult then, not now. You can release it now.
Loved one: I actually try to work on that because I definitely have a hard time forgiving myself and I know better
Me: People’s pasts define them as long as they hold onto it, as long as it weighs on them. This needn’t be the case.
Loved one: So true...it’s hard to rewire your brain?
Me: It’s not as hard as it seems. I think expressing myself has helped me. You can find your own special way to release it, privately or with whoever else.
Loved one: For sure
While in the midst of this conversation I had no intention on sharing it, with anyone. I’ve never shared one before. This one just struck me, something about being able to reread the words and apply my own insight to the very issues I adhere myself to on a yearly basis seemed so simple and yet so strong and helpful. Most of us are ass kickers when it comes to supporting our loved ones, dispensing salient advice in the right moments, filling another’s heart will compliments we’d never utter to ourselves. What the fuck kind of sense does this make? Sure, be generous, especially in spirit, give your love and goodness to others, but it is whack to neglect yourself. The best teacher you can be for others is to live your own truth, love yourself first and be the light you were born to be.
You can, and should, relinquish the past to the past. Unless you’re currently incarcerated (even so, this is a mere physical imprisonment, your heart and soul are in your hands), the only person holding you hostage, keeping you trapped in a fragile shell of the person you used to be, is you. Free yourself. Forgive yourself. You can. First, acknowledge the moments, the eras in time, the decisions, the attitude and emotions surrounding these memories where you’ve kept guilt, sadness, frustration, confusion, and so on. It could be a severed relationship, a choice to do or not do something huge (go to college, travel, tell someone how you feel), or a mere accumulation of negative muck passed on by others (unsupportive loved ones, bullies, bosses, teachers) that you’ve chosen to believe about yourself to this point. Find some way to express it, release it, burn it. Writing has been so helpful for me, cathartic and eye-opening. Painting has been the same for other loved ones. No one has to see, you just have to become aware and feel how it feels to let it go.
There’s a line in that super famous Gotye song that says, “You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness.” Isn’t that true? We become so accustomed to feeling blah, to feeling just okay, to feeling negative, to feeling guilty, to feeling afraid, to feeling sad, to feeling inadequate, to feeling uninspired, to feeling less than. Shake yourself up! Break up your repeated thoughts, your emotional patterns, your means of defense, your cycles of crap, and decide today to think, feel, do and be lighter. Forgiving yourself will do tremendous wonders to your tolerance of others. With this breath, let it all go. Take the next breath in, feeling new.
Choose to trust and love yourself first, be open to doing the same with others second, and let this be the first and most important decision you make before you embark on your life each day. You are worth it. You are capable. You can be the reason you love life, the reason you rise above, living in light, rather than being buried under the weight of the world, dying in darkness. This is why the buddha is laughing! He realizes how futile and how transient it all is. This bullshit you complain about could be gone in an hour. Filter through the nonsense, wave bye-bye to assholes and happiness vacuums, and recognize how special it is to be alive and how important it is you enjoy all that you are and all that you have Now.
Grateful for yesterday, blissed for today, encouraged for tomorrow.