“Happiness is really a deep inner satisfaction and approval” ~Francis Wiltshire
At the start of the year many of us make resolutions about what we want to give up, what we need to let go—from quitting smoking (did that 20+ years ago), to cutting back on alcohol (a work in progress), to cutting back on not-so-healthy foods (also in progress), to letting go of past “demons.”
There’s a lot to be gained by letting go of past pain, by breaking bad habits. But what if we thought more in terms of what we might welcome into our lives—what we might be open to receiving?
Even diet companies cash in on this positive psychology. Don’t talk of losing weight, but gaining health; think of eating a delicious salad rather than sacrificing that block of chocolate.
But how often do we convince ourselves that we must do all the hard work of letting go and giving up before we are worthy to receive?
I’ve always been better at giving than receiving, so when it comes to letting go and letting in, I’ve focused on what I needed to give up, to let go, the work I needed to do in order to be better.
I’ve put the pressure on myself to self-heal rather than asking for help. I haven’t always been open to receiving compassion and love, since I wasn’t sure I deserved them.
And conversely, I’ve given more and more of myself in the hopes I might thus be worthy of receiving, which is not genuine giving anyway.
I did this especially when I was going through infertility, but I still find myself doing it now—making deals with myself to let go of fear, pain, and jealousy and to give more love, understanding, effort, and then surely I’ll be deserving of what I want.
The letting go proves you are strong and the giving proves you are good—don’t they?
In wanting the ultimate gift of a baby, I felt I needed to do a lot of letting go and lots of giving in order to receive such a precious prize. In the process I depleted myself.
At first I wore the whole IVF pain and suffering thing as a badge of honor, of martyrdom; if I endured enough, then I’d be worthy.
Then I felt guilty—surely I must have done something wrong to deserve such pain. Then I felt like I had to let go of the shame, the bad stuff I carried inside me, if I was ever to be worthy of being a mother. But shame is hard to shake.
Now, as Mom to our two beautiful adopted children, I have to catch myself berating myself, feeling the need to let go and give constantly. After all, I’ve been given the gift of “someone else’s children,” so I must prove my indebtedness, to somehow atone for the grief and loss my children’s birthparents must surely have felt.
Even with something as simple as yoga breathing, I always find it difficult to breathe in and out in a balanced way. I usually feel the need to exhale loud and long, to release all of the bad stuff (which is great), but at the same time I find it hard to take in a big full breath, as though I’m undeserving of such a gift.
So in 2013, if you are already struggling in your resolve to give up or let go, why don’t you join me in a challenge to “let in”? The change of focus may make all the difference.
1. Let in awareness.
Use your senses to really appreciate all that is around you. Nature has so much joy to give us on a daily basis if we will stop to watch, listen, touch, taste, and smell. The gift of this awareness is that we stop worrying so much about what’s going on inside ourselves. It is the gift of the present.
2. Let in love.
Love and accept yourself as you are so that you are open to receiving love. Sure, you might want to lose weight or be more positive or more confident, but you are still worthy. You don’t need to prove anything to approve of yourself. Letting in love makes you lovable.
3. Let in compassion.
Don’t be too busy feeling sorry for yourself (or judging yourself) to make room for others’ comfort. Don’t be too stoic to accept help. Don’t beat yourself up, thinking that you have to pull yourself out of your own mess or that you must do the hard yards alone.
4. Let in forgiveness.
Allow yourself to be forgiven by others, and most importantly, allow yourself to forgive your own mistakes. You are only human.
5. Let in laughter.
It will lighten the mood.
6. Let in joy.
Love and joy are gifts we all deserve.
7. Let in gratitude.
Allow people to be grateful for what you do. Don’t dismiss what you do as “nothing.” Count your kindness, and allow yourself to feel good about it.
8. Let in silence.
Be prepared to sit with yourself and meditate on your own lovability rather than focusing on the things about yourself you’d like to change.
9. Let in serendipity.
Be alert for things that happen out of the blue, even if at first they appear negative. Serendipity is good fortune that can come disguised as a lesson. Receive it as a blessing.
10. Let in pain.
It sounds strange when you feel like you have enough pain inside you, or when you busy trying to get rid of it in order to be stronger and braver. But opening yourself up to the risk of being hurt allows you to realize that you are capable of handling the pain you already have.
And, the more pain you let yourself feel, the more you can alchemise into gain.
We Let Go When We Let In
The good stuff boots the bad stuff out of the way. Love expands and makes room for more abundance while conquering fear. Joy overcomes pain. The hard work of letting go becomes easier.
At the very least, it’s a yin yang balance equation—we need to allow ourselves to receive as much as we push ourselves to give up.
We don’t have to fully let go of our pasts, our mistakes, and our bad habits before we can receive the many gifts of the present. And in receiving freely, we open ourselves up to giving freely too.
After a lot of focus on letting go in 2012 (and for the last few years), the growth I want in 2013 will largely come from letting in. What will you let into your life this year?
Photo by mislav-m