It’s always interesting to me when things show up repeatedly in different ways. Enough little whispers and you can be sure it’s the cosmic equivalent of a hedz up message.
Letting go has been a theme I revisit periodically and it seems particularly relevant now at this beautiful time of year. Autumn is the quintessential season of letting go. Taking a walk today and watching the leaves fluttering down I thought about how easy and gracefully the trees make it all seem. No drama, no remorse, no waffling – just releasing.
In a number of conversations in a surprising number of different venues in my life, talk has turned to releasing our old stories. The things that don’t fit anymore. They’ve become too tight, too limiting, itchy and uncomfortable, and just not right anymore. I’ve been thinking about different ways to release these no-longer-fitting stories.
Some stories you can just let go of and be done with. They release with the ease of those falling leaves.
Some stories can be released in ritual. Symbolically burning, burying, or telling the story for the final time and never referring to it again can result in profound shifts.
But sometimes it’s not that easy to just let go of our stories in one fell swoop. We’ve kept them so long they’re literally a second skin, and we turn to them habitually to explain ourselves and why we can’t do certain things. I can’t talk in front of crowds – “I’m shy.”
In addition to limiting us, we find ways to beat ourselves up about what it is we think we are. We stay stuck. We can’t cut ourselves any slack because we’re so ready to shove ourselves back into the old the-way-I-am stories.
So what can be done? One approach is what I think of as prying open the box. Find the slightest crack where you can slip in something new – an addendum to your story if you will. Change one small thing – do one thing differently. And when you’re tempted to dismiss it and revert to the old story, make yourself think/say/know – well, maybe I always used to (fill in the blank), but this time I did something different. Maybe I’ve always been shy in the past, but look I’ve been playing on Twitter and talking to a few people. Maybe I’m not hopeless after all. Cracking the story open just a little bit can be so wonderful – it’s like finally getting to take a deep breath. To unfold yourself from that cramped pretzel position. And give yourself the possibility of re-editing your story bit by bit into a new story totally unrecognizable as the original. Kind of like those puzzles where you start with one word and each turn you change one letter until by the end you have an entirely different word. And what’s not to like about a new improved story that doesn’t cramp, itch, or drive you crazy?