Creative Counselling: Let It Go!
by Marie Bruce
As October’s leaves begin to fall and autumn winds strip all the dead wood from the trees, nature is telling us that now is the time for letting go. The branches don’t struggle to hold on to dead leaves – they let them go, they shake them off and in doing so, the trees reveal their inner beauty and strength.
The dark season has a way of showing us something needs to go but if you think it will be as simple as clearing out your wardrobe, think again. As autumn gets underway, you really need to clear out your mental and emotional clutter, otherwise the long winter nights up ahead could lead you straight into depression. Anything that has bothered you over the past few months needs to be addressed now.
I always see the start of autumn as a time to reboot my life. The chillier days bring fresh starts aplenty – if you’re willing to venture out into the cold to seek them. This time of year is also good for self-reflection and as the nights draw in, you can use this time to analyse what needs to change in your life. None of us are perfect and we all have flaws that we can work on. The dark season tends to reflect your shadow-side back at you, which is why those who are prone to depression or pessimism find the autumn and winter so difficult: it reflects back their own inner darkness in such a way that they cannot ignore it.
Letting go as a concept sounds relatively simple, but in practice, it’s easier said than done. We all hold onto things for sentimental reasons, but just as hoarding material possessions leads to a constricted lifestyle, so too does holding onto emotional trauma. You need to let go before you can move on, because it is holding onto the past that keeps you feeling stuck and causes your life to stagnate around you.
Think of it as a form of release; you are releasing yourself from the prison of the past – past pains, insults, rivalries, betrayals and so on. Because if you still ill-wish your rival, you haven’t moved on; if you still check your ex-partner’s social media every week, then you haven’t them let go; if you are surrounded by the belongings of a dead person, you haven’t moved forward in your own life since they passed away. I know that sounds harsh, but you’re here to live your life as well as you can, not to stagnate in endless misery. Only you can set you free.
Once you have released something there will be a void. The void can be a scary place, and it is usually the fear of facing that void that prevents people from letting go in the first place. People stay in bad relationships because they can’t face the void of being single again, or they remain in unfulfilling jobs so they don’t have to face the void of possible unemployment for a time. Fear of the void makes people hold on. Facing the void – and more importantly, making your own plans to fill it – is what helps people to let go and move on with their lives. Start a new hobby, a new course, a new routine… but make no mistake, filling the void on your own terms makes it less scary and takes away its power over you.
So, how do you begin to let go? Journaling is one of the most effective ways of dealing with old wounds and letting go of past pain. Writing in a journal gives you a place to place the pain, so that you aren’t carrying it around with you any more. You syphon the bad memories onto the page and immediately feel lighter for it. As you journal your way through your past, you’ll begin to make connections you didn’t see before, patterns of self-sabotage will become apparent and you’ll start to come up with your own solutions and strategies. This is the magic of journaling. It works like alchemy, taking all the dark matter of emotional and mental trauma and transforming it into insights and revelations that can help you heal.
There are lots of books available that tell you how to journal and they might even offer writing prompts for you to follow, but my advice is to just start writing and see what comes up. Autumn is the perfect time of year to make journaling a part of your normal routine as the early darkness induces us to stay at home and cosy up, so make journaling a part of your cosy autumnal rituals.
Find a lovely hardback notebook and a pen, or curl up with your laptop. Create a warm atmosphere with a fire going or scented candles burning, make a pumpkin spice or chai tea latte, snuggle into a cosy throw blanket, get comfy and start writing. Write anything, write everything, just write, write, write… and see where the writing takes you. Have tissues at the ready, because journaling can be an emotional pastime and plan something fun to do when you have finished writing, to give your mood a life again. Journaling isn’t always fun. It brings up a lot of stuff but it’s all stuff you were carrying around with you and you know what they say – better out than in!
Take a deep breath, pick up your pen and address the past. Until next month,
Marie Bruce x
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