Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Krista O’Reilly-Davi-Digui of A Life in Progress.
We are afraid to let go for different reasons.
For one daughter of mine, her eclectic collection of books helps inform her identity. My husband, on the other hand, grew up in poverty and fear of lack can compel him to gather and hoard. Personally, I find myself afraid to let go because I struggle to trust that there is yet more goodness and beauty to come my way.
But I know I must let go of what was to make space for what will be.
Organization and order come naturally to me. I maintain a minimalist wardrobe, resist the pull of busy, and release habits or belongings that no longer merit space in my life. My challenge with letting go is emotional, not physical.
As I give away the favorite storybooks and games and buckets of Legos that marked my years as mama of little people, what I’m really letting go of is a beautiful season of life where I knew my role, was good at it, and felt needed. That was my dream—to build a nest and raise family. As my kids grow up and leave home, I’m shocked at the unexpected grief mixed with hope. Sometimes I want just a few days more to hug their little bodies tight. Fear tells me it will never again be as sweet as this.
Though I ache, I let go of what was to make space for what will be.
I am learning to coexist with discomfort and take action anyway so I can do the work to which I am called in this new season. But after years of numbing and running and wrestling with anxiety that incapacitates, this is hard work, emotional work, and sometimes I want to quit because even at 46 growing up is hard to do. Fear whispers I will fail anyway so it’s better not to try.
I challenge fear with truth and let go of who I was to make space for who I choose to be.
Each day I practice loving with less judgment, meeting people where they’re at. I notice my tendency toward impatience and frustration, and remind myself to take a breath and trust the journey. Instead of stepping into each day with a rigid agenda, I show up with curiosity. Fear warns that if I don’t control tightly, I will miss out or fall behind.
But I’ve opted out of the race, so I loosen my grip on what I think should be to make space for joyful possibility.
Doing the hard work of digging into the muck, hands dirtied, unhurried, to unearth what it is that draws me to hold on tight for dear life is the first step to letting go. It is only in this messy, uncomfortable place that I begin to untangle the roots of my fear and find my way to freedom. Slowly. Surely.
It is here that I identify my own compelling reason to let go of what was to make space for what will be.
The only way to true growth is through.
And if we are not careful we can fool ourselves into thinking we are doing the deeper work while we sleepily traipse along someone else’s path. We must find a way to quiet the noise, for there’s no replacement for living open heart, quiet mind. If we run from the inner work, disappointment tends to follow.
She is an excellent rule follower and with a surge of energy and stamina creates a fall capsule wardrobe, declutters her home and life, only to have the stuff, the busyness and the overwhelm creep back in slowly and stealthily. She didn’t get to the root of her issue.
He lives in shame because even though he faithfully devours the simple-living books and blog posts and knows his current life pace is unsustainable, still he struggles to find momentum to slow down. He hasn’t identified his own compelling reason to initiate purposeful and lasting change.
You jump wholeheartedly onto the minimalist train and conform well but because you haven’t spent the time to gain clarity around what you truly want or who you are, you still feel as sad or lonely or unfilled as before. You forgot along the way that we are each knit-together uniquely and in order to live aligned with your mission, your life will, by necessity, look different from mine.
We must do the inner work.
Only then can we shake off the unessential, eliminate, reduce. Craft a life that is uncluttered and rich with purpose. A life with room to breathe so that we are freed up to share our voice and gifts. Whatever the excess that overstuffs our life we are served by getting honest about why we hold on tight.
This is the way to freedom.
Once we’ve done the inner work, we let go of what was to make space for what will be.
Krista is a stubborn questioner, honest storyteller, and Joyful Living Educator. Her mission is to help women live unshackled lives of purpose, health, and joy. Connect with her at A Life in Progress or on Facebook.