The longest day of the year is tomorrow and the new year is fast approaching. With so much to do around the holidays and frantic attempts to finish goals for 2018, it can be easy to miss the invitation to release what you do not want to bring with you into the new year. The darkness of the season provides a natural insulation, much like the caterpillar's cocoon, and if we accept the opportunity, this time can be a beautiful and necessary shedding of skin before the new year begins.
To support you with this process, here are three tools for identifying and releasing what needs to go.
#1 - Journal
An age-old therapist favorite, the power of journaling cannot be overrated. When we
intentionally write to ourselves, we speak and face our truth. We can truly listen to what our heart, soul, self is saying to us. Here are some prompts you can use to identify what it is you need to release:
I don't want...
I no longer desire...
I refuse to...
#2 - Concretely remove things from your life
We can hold on to things on many different levels: spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical. While releasing physical items and concrete representations is but one layer, it remains an important step. I invite you to consider the following:
Unfollow social media accounts that bring you down or harm you
Delete your social media account if it brings you more harm than good or usefulness
Delete or block contacts who cause you harm or deplete you
Donate or get rid of items in your house/car/office that suffocate, darken, depress, deplete, or destroy you
Make a plan to cut out or minimize activities that deplete or zap your energy and offer little nourishment in return
#3 - Release people who bring you down
Who we spend our life with impacts us greatly. As Esther Perel says, "the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives." It is important to work on creating vital and reciprocal relationships and part of doing this is identifying when it is time for a relationship to diminish or die. The following exercise can help you identify where you need to distance from or leave someone altogether.
Get a large piece of paper.
Draw a dot in the middle (or anything else you want to represent yourself - a drawing, collage, etc) to represent yourself.
Then, begin to draw dots/representations of everyone currently in your life in a meaningful, significant, or time-consuming way. As you draw the others in your life, place their dot/representation farther or closer to your dot depending on how close you want them to the beating heart of your life.
When you are done, you will have a map that shows you who you want to keep close, who needs to be farther away, and who you would like to invest in bringing nearer to you.
The map will likely not reflect your current circumstances. This is where you can begin to create small steps of distancing or bringing closer different people to create a life that works for you.
Please note that grieving is a natural part of the process of letting go. It is likely that you will have strong feelings arise, you may need to cry, and you may need to process with someone you trust.
I hope these exercises help to bring you into greater alignment with who you are and what works for you. You deserve to live your most authentic life.