Are You Ready to Cut Loose & Fly High?

As we prepare to emerge from our lockdown ‘cocoons’ at some point, many people (myself included) have had time to rethink, re-evaluate and reassess many things. Areas such as work, relationships and our lives in general have come under scrutiny as we have been forced to stop, giving us some time and head-space to focus. And with that process, for many, has come a wish to make positive changes as part of our lives and also as our collective ‘New Normal’.

But as we take those first faltering steps, out into the light as these new, quivering butterflies, it is becoming painfully clear that some things are just not going to work any more. We are now being shown and seeing for the first time, the things that are holding us back from taking flight. To use another flying parallel – it’s as though we are hot air balloons sitting on the ground, fully inflated and ready to rise up, but as the tethering rope is released, not much happens apart from hovering a few feet above ground. So the aeronaut begins to release and let go of the sandbags hanging around the outside and as he does, the balloon is able to rise higher and higher, up into the blue sky and clouds.

I’ve been feeling this very strongly over the past year. The message I’m getting is that in order to fly higher and become your new best self, to embrace your amazing ‘New Normal’, it is time to let go, releasing any ‘excess baggage’ – those sandbags that are holding you down. This could be anything from relationships to unnecessary belongings in your home. Time to identify them and cut them loose.

One example of this for me is with unwanted belongings. I’m an ex-hoarder and am now very good at identifying clothes and belongings that I no longer want. I’m great with shifting the charity and clothes bank items, but when it comes to the items that I paid more for, or that I deem valuable in some way, I put off dealing with them, I get stuck and so do they… in our home. Up until recently this meant that hanging on our bedroom door washed, pressed and ready to meet their new lives were:

  • 2 x Boden tunics;
  • 1x unworn ballgown (label still attached);
  • 1 x velvet dress;
  • 1 x vintage-style jumper;
  • 1 x walking coat (nice coat, not so nice memories);
  • 1 x wedding dress (yep, mine and strangely one of the few items I carried out of my divorce).

I feel ashamed to say that some of the items had been awaiting their fate there for 4 years! Opening that door was difficult. Apart from the bulky volume of stuff there, it was heavy and the plastic protective sheets stuck to you as you walked past. It was uncomfortable using that door, but I had become so used to it over time that I didn’t notice the discomfort any more.

Until recently.

Those items started to feel like a mosquito in a sleeping bag – I had an uncomfortable urgency around dealing with them. I just didn’t want to struggle using that door any more, or look at them every night when I fell asleep, then the next morning when I woke up.

I realised that every time I looked at them, I felt like a failure. I felt overwhelmed. I realised that each one of those items was an unmade decision. And I was feeling all that twice a day, plus every time I went in and out of that room. It had become a sandbag holding me down, one that I could easily cut lose.

So what had been stopping me?

A mis-placed sense of value. This was my thought pattern:

  • I paid a lot for some of these items, I can’t just give them away.
  • We need the money, I’ll ebay them.
  • I remember when I wore that and… [cue sentimental memory].
  • I feel ashamed that I bought that and never wore it.
  • Maybe I will regret letting that go…
  • I might need that at a later date…

Perhaps you identify with some of these thoughts around getting rid of stuff? They are common. And what is interesting is that nearly all of them also relate to other areas in your life, such as relationships and even emotional baggage.

How?

Think about an area in which you feel an uncomfortable feeling, you know – that relationship break-up you never quite got over, a messy divorce, grief and sadness you’ve felt for years etc. All of that is your personal area of suffering. You may wish for a way to let it go, thinking you would have a much happier life, however behind the scenes your subconscious mind may be thinking differently. Here’s how, using the example of a relationship:

  • I paid a lot for some of these items, I can’t just give them away
    becomes…
    I’ve invested so many years in that relationship, how can I just let it go?
  • We need the money, I’ll ebay them
    becomes…
    How will I manage financially on my own?
  • I remember when I wore that and… [cue sentimental memory]
    becomes…
    I remember when we [cue sentimental memory].
  • I feel ashamed that I bought that and never wore it
    becomes…
    I feel ashamed that I feel differently now, I feel out of love, that shouldn’t happen, I’m a bad person.
  • Maybe I will regret letting that go
    becomes…
    maybe I will regret letting the relationship go.
  • I might need that at a later date…
    becomes…
    Perhaps things will sort themselves out naturally, I’ll give it a bit longer, think about getting a divorce in a few years when the kids are older.

We get extremely comfortable with our own personal suffering, especially if we’ve had it a long time. It is a prison cell, but a warm and comfy one where you get 3 meals a day and a bed. Our suffering sometimes defines us, becomes a part of who we are. Letting it go would mean changing and change can be scary – ‘Who would I be without worrying about [add your story here]?’

So, how can we begin to cut those sandbags loose, lightening our lives?

1. Get Real, Get Clear

This is the hardest bit, but it’s OK, we get it out of the way first. Let’s search out those sandbags. Take a good hard look at your life and the people, situations and things in it. What is holding you back? What is not working for you? Areas to think about are:

  • Material possessions
  • Family relationships
  • Romantic relationships
  • Friends
  • Your job, or business
  • Your home environment (tidiness/cleanliness/clutter/state of repair)
  • Your work environment
  • You – your opinion and how you feel about yourself
  • Your habits – eating/drinking/smoking/exercise etc.
  • Your social life

Where do you feel:

  • Uncomfortable?
  • Resistance?
  • Unhappy?
  • Out of place?
  • Sad, bad or mad?
  • What aggravates you on a daily basis?
  • Whose calls and contact do you avoid?
  • What habits would you like to give up?
  • What would you change about your home?
  • What would you change about your yourself?
  • What would you change about your relationship?
  • What would you change about your job?

You will know when you hit a sandbag through how you feel. You could feel a physical sensation, an emotion, a heaviness, tiredness, or a resistance inside, like itchy ants running through your body. Notice the sensation and what it corresponds to on the list.

Assess all areas and identify the sandbags. You may have already done this bit during the lockdown, in which case you’re ready for step 2.

2. Think beyond the knee-jerk thought, question your beliefs

Is what you believe about the item, person, or situation true? Going back to my clothes this would mean questioning my list of worries:

  • I paid a lot for some of these items, I can’t just give them away.

Actually I can, I just need to make the decision and do it.

  • We need the money, I’ll ebay them.

This is not true, we’re not that desperate for money! Time is a more valuable commodity than money (you can always get more money, but time is a finite resource for us humans). By the time I’ve written the ebay post, answered any buyer queries, checked in to see if it’s selling, parcelled it up, driven to the post office – that’s a lot of my life gone! And that’s just with one item! Collectively, if I sold all those items on my door, I would probably end up with under £100 and would have spent a lot of time to get it. So it’s a “No” from me on this one.

  • I remember when I wore that and… [cue sentimental memory].

This is a tough one. Sentimentality is a big culprit for blocking letting go. With letting sentimental items go, it can feel as though we are also going to let a special event, time of life, person, or place go. It has a feeling of loss about it, a wistful feel. I have experienced feeling guilt too. If someone gives you something of meaning, it can then feel as though you are insulting, or hurting that person in some way by letting go of that item (a biggie for me is my children’s drawings going back years).

To deal with this one I frame it in a way that the amazing Marie Kondo teaches: I realise that when a person gives me a gift (my son’s drawing), the moment of love passes between the two of us in that moment and remains forever in my heart and memory. Letting go of the drawing does not erase that loving gesture, the love I felt with the gift and the memory of it. And beyond that, holding onto it could signify a tendency to hold onto the past, not move forwards, something that often holds us back (especially when it comes to children growing up).

So I don’t need to keep hold of the item to keep hold of the memory. Next!

  • Maybe I will regret letting that go.

That could be true, but historically how often has this happened to me? Honestly – just once and I can’t even remember what it was and probably just replaced it. I have noticed that when I look back at family photos, I see myself wearing stuff I let go of years ago and have completely forgotten. Some items I don’t even remember having! I’m willing to risk it.

  • I might need that at a later date…

Same answer as above. I’ll risk it and buy another if I need it.

3. Find a Different Way

Do something different to your normal pattern. How can you change your usual problem solving method? Sometimes this needs to be something radical, maybe even something you would never have considered before. Think about throwing those sandbags overboard – that is a quick, decisive action, there is no going back once it’s implemented, it’s done and dusted very quickly.

4. Explore

You don’t have to take the drastic action straight away – explore your feelings and thoughts around it. Test the waters :

  • Could you let that person, situation or object go?
  • How would you feel if you did? Better, or worse?
  • What would the consequences be? Are they worse than you are dealing with now? If not, why WOULDN’T you let it go!
  • What does your gut instinct tell you?

Again, tune into your body and the sensations you get when you consider these things – you will begin to discover you have good instincts when you learn how to listen and trust them. Blend them with the thoughts you are having. Making decisions using both mind and body working in sync is much better and more balanced than just using one, or the other.

As for those items on the door? I took immense joy in leaving them with the lovely people at my local charity shop and so did they! They were over the moon with the wedding dress in particular and all the items were going to be shipped to their shop for more expensive items – a win for them and total win for me. I walked out of that shop and did a happy inner ‘air punch’ – it felt truly empowering.

And honestly, for the rest of that day the only think I felt was complete relief and a lightness inside that I had not experienced in a long time, I literally felt as though I was that hot air balloon ready to take off.

What are you ready to let go of? Add a comment below and inspire us!