Do You Also Have a Tough Time Letting Go?
This is a deeply personal story.
I have a hard time letting go.
I don’t know why I’m wired this way, but I have a very difficult time letting go of just about everything.
Just ask my husband. My habit of washing and re-using plastic storage bags and aluminum foil drives him nuts.
I still don’t know why I’m like this.
Perhaps part of it is thrift when it comes to keeping common household items. But I also do the same thing with relationships and behaviors. This practice has now become a part of me, moving under the radar of my consciousness.
My Big Revelation
While getting my second cup of coffee and emptying out the dishwasher, my mind drifted toward the past seven years.
You see, in 2012, I left a full-time marketing job to launch my own freelance copywriting business. I had high hopes this would be an incredible shift for my skills that would allow me to help more business owners create marketing assets that would make an impact.
Two years prior, I started to work with a few clients, testing the waters to see if I could really make it work. I had some initial successes, which encouraged me to pursue more client work.
In 2012, I landed a large local client that needed dozens of case studies re-written and web page copy that needed to be refreshed.
The creative director loved my work and everything seemed to be going well until the two co-founders couldn’t agree on the company’s new direction.
This was a big deal. One co-founder wanted to move forward by re-defining everything. The other co-founder was more traditional and wanted to only make slight tweaks.
The project stalled and I was paid a kill fee to end our agreement. Everyone was cordial but I remember feeling a deep sense of disappointment. I was looking forward to working more with this company but under the circumstances, that just wasn’t going to happen.
Over the years, I had clients who would need copywriting help but not long-term help. Once you write web page copy, you often won’t change it for months — even though it’s a very good idea to revise it often for SEO purposes.
But again, I had certain expectations about client relationships that weren’t my reality. When it comes to offering copywriting services, most clients come and go. They receive the help they need and move on to other projects.
In other words, I had to let go.
Ideas for Those Who Have a Tough Time Letting Go
I’m not an expert in this. At all.
The revelations I’ve had today are brand new. I decided to share this because I have a feeling I’m not the only one who has a tough time letting go of stuff.
But I will share with you the insights I’ve had so far:
A Season for Everything
I remember clearly the first time I had difficulty letting go of a relationship. I was six years old.
One day, standing in front of our elementary school, my best friend Lisa told me she didn’t want to be friends with me anymore.
I was a confused little girl, wrestling with the complex feelings of rejection and abandonment. I can’t recollect anything I had done wrong. It was just a typical child-like desire for one person to move on and leave the other person behind.
The problem was, I wanted to be friends with someone forever.
And I have no idea how or when that “forever” concept became a part of my emotional fabric at such a young age, but there you have it.
I thought that once I was friends with someone, it should last forever. Don’t films and TV shows promote this? People who met in grade school and were friends throughout their life, some even marrying their kindergarten sweethearts?
Except this isn’t my reality. In fact, I could probably fill a large restaurant with all the people who have come and gone in my life.
Grade school friends, softball team friends, high school friends, church friends, work friends, dance club friends, book club friends, interest group friends… the list goes on.
The point is, there was a season to all of these friendships. They were important at the time and contributed to my personal development, but then circumstances changed.
Or… I changed.
And the autumn season that brought fruit from these relationship trees were finally done. The leaves served their purpose and they fell to the ground, making way for a long winter’s sleep.
When a season is done, it’s done.
Sure, we may be sad to say goodbye to spring and summer, but then again, we know it will be around again the following year.
That’s the thing about seasons.
There are always new seasons to look forward to.
A Purpose for Everything
Just as it’s important to recognize there are seasons in our lives, it’s also important to realize that certain relationships, habits, and behaviors have a purpose.
Once something has served its purpose, it’s time to move on and let go. We cannot receive anything new if we’re still tightly clasping that which is no longer needed.
This perhaps has been one of the most helpful revelations for me to accept changes in my life.
After reading Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, I started to de-clutter my home.
As I gave away clothing, books, and miscellaneous items that no longer served a purpose, I felt relieved. Lighter. Happier.
I realized that the very same principles that work well for de-cluttering our homes can also work for de-cluttering our emotions.
When you let go of relationships that have served their purpose, you can do so with deep gratitude and joy. For instance, a particular relationship might have helped me become stronger or more resilient.
Or another relationship was instrumental in teaching me about self-care and nurturing my interests.
But the purpose is complete. The lessons have been learned. And now it’s time to take those lessons and move on to the next level in life.
Here’s the really cool thing about letting go.
There is new stuff to anticipate!
There are new adventures on the horizon, new people to meet who will teach you new things, and new experiences that will enrich your life.
The trick about personal development and growth is recognizing when to let go so you can receive the next thing.
And you know what? You know.
You know because that which used to thrill you and serve you no longer does. You’re not as excited about it.
To clarify, let’s say you started an exercise program. And for months you’ve been doing the same routine diligently. Over time, you’re not as thrilled as you used to be to head into the gym.
But that lack of excitement doesn’t mean to stop exercising altogether. It just means it’s probably time to try something new.
At least that’s the way it works for me.
So I don’t know if this helps you or not.
I’m simply putting these thoughts out there because as I said, many people have been introduced to “KonMari Method” that Marie Kondo talks about in her book. They may not have thought to apply these same principles to other areas of their life.
Letting go doesn’t have to be tragic and sad. It can be a time of gratitude for that which has been given. Learning and growing don’t happen if nothing changes.
Growth only happens when that which is no longer needed is discarded. Like the new butterfly who no longer needs the cocoon, we also can spread our wings and fly.
I wonder if that caterpillar ever thought that if it wasn’t for the cocoon, she wouldn’t have eventually enjoyed such a stunning, aerial view of the world?
Thank goodness for letting go.