This afternoon, I took a drive. It was a gorgeous day featuring unseasonably warm temperatures, so I opened the sun roof, cranked up some Ani DiFranco tunes and hit the back roads. As I drove, a few leaves floated into my car, and I thought about the beauty of autumn and the lessons the trees teach us about letting go.
And I realized, for as long as I’ve appreciated nature’s release of that-which-no-longer serves, there’s an element of the process that I overlooked. A rather important element:
Before the trees release their leaves, they stop feeding them.
It’s a simple fact that’s easily overlooked in nature, yet when it comes to letting go of things in our lives, the factor becomes much more important. When a relationship ends, the natural progression is to feel, then release and move on.
We hear it all the time (and, I say it all the time): just let go. Let go of anger and release the sadness. Let go of him/her, and leave the past in the past.
It’s absolutely true that the act of letting go is freeing and feels fabulous. But there’s a process behind the release. You can’t simply let go of something you’re actively nourishing. That’s why green leaves don’t fall from trees unless they’re ripped away by an external force.
What does it mean to stop feeding an old relationship? It’s a little different for everyone. But some common elements include:
Stop replaying old events in your mind.
Stop trying to understand.
Stop imagining how things could’ve been different.
Stop stalking your ex (on social media, via the children or friends, etc).
Stop nurturing an intimate connection.
Quite simply: don’t direct your energy toward the past. What might you do instead?
Focus on self care.
Imagine your new future and work to create it.
Nurture other relationships.
The act of letting go won’t happen immediately after we stop feeding remnants of the old partnership. Like the trees, we continue to carry that which was a part of us. Throughout the process, we change. We become lighter… more vibrant… and then, when the time is right, when it’s clear there’s no point in holding on, and we have nothing to lose, we let go, allowing the past to crumble at our feet. What was once our burden becomes our strength as we stand tall to face a new season.