This season I encourage you to celebrate the holiday season in the deepest way possible, and instead of accumulating more, focus the season on the practice of letting go. Start with the physical world and do a holiday closet clean out or drop off the boxes waiting to be donated in the garage. Letting go of what we don’t need materially is a great practice of lightening up and making space around you. Looking at our possessions with new eyes, especially at this time of year where we all mistakenly confuse stuff for love is healing and may save you some money. How many things in that giveaway pile held the promise of making you happy, even momentarily? How many can you really associate with a memorable loving moment? Some things, like my son’s old soccer jacket are hardest to part with, as they act like visceral memories, bringing back the sweet times of his childhood. I have found that letting them go doesn’t actually erase the memories, instead it makes space for what you really want to show up in the here and now.
Experiencing how letting go of physical baggage creates space in your life is a great incentive to take this practice to a deeper level and begin to disengage with sticky old internal baggage that left unchecked starts to form our personality in ways that we might not choose or even be aware of. Historic unresolved conflicts become weighty grudges filled with shame and resentment. These two emotions not only weigh us down but also disconnect us from the relationship intimacy we long for. They are the kind of emotions that have long tendrils and spread into defensiveness and an inability work with our own feelings that harms all of our relationships.
As we let go and disengage from the inner baggage that effectively prevents us from receiving love, our relationships begin to transform. Letting ourselves off the hook seamlessly translates into the same for the people who have been trying to love us. Their imperfections and the ways we are disappointed are no longer the point of focus. As our own emotional baggage becomes workable, our critical view on how our relationships are failing us effortlessly transitions to a compassionate connection that balances the gifts with the challenges. So little of the hurt that transpires in a relationship is deliberate or malicious. Forgiveness is the purest form of letting go, when we can recognize the innocence of our own mistakes and that they are not so different from the mistakes others make.
Letting go of what isn’t ours to hold onto is one of the most profound gifts we can give ourselves and others. Not only is life lighter and more enjoyable moment by moment, but the moments are also more full of true presence that allows us to deeply witness the gifts of flowers, oak trees and morning stars.