The Process of Change … Continuously Letting Go

How many ways do we describe the process of change in our lives? From the perspective of counselling and psychotherapy we could name it as grief over the death of a loved one, the end of an intimate relationship or marriage, the shifting of careers or the end of one, having children, getting older, becoming ill, the betrayal of an affair, moving to another community, a spiritual crisis and many other life experiences. Even though all these experiences have their own powerfully unique emotions, meanings and felt-senses within, they also have something in common. These life moments are asking us to “let go” of something and to move toward something new. The letting go may be of a relationship, a behavior, a belief, a value or a connection to a place and people. It is asking us to “move” in a different way and direction in life. So why is it that we often struggle so fiercely with this natural process of constant change – the way of the universe?

Through our lives we are often taught, infused or outright misled about the human experience – our experience. Especially in modern Western “culture”, the focus on the strong independent individual who strives for total control of her life is the reality model that is dominant and supported by most institutions and the mass media of our society. We are taught to value self-reliance, individual freedoms and rights, to produce and consume and to see the world through a compartmentalized, reductionist and disconnected lens. Through this lens, our world becomes smaller and smaller, we become more isolated and separate from the elements, plants, animals, other humans and the larger mystery of living and being. So any time we experience life events that challenge this view, it produces discomfort and suffering. The degree of this suffering is directly connected to our level of resistance to change – our attachment to the “old”. We are taught to fear death, the ultimate change and to avoid feeling our emotions fully and completely which is part of the natural process of letting go. This denial and repression of the real energies moving within us cause our attachment to things that are already changing or gone, yet we cling to something imagined, reminisced or unreal because of this fear.

Yet, there is also a deep knowing within us that wants to let go, to free ourselves, to move in harmony with the forces of that great mystery. Our deep intuitive wisdom is still alive within us all, buried beneath the layers of misguided beliefs, emotional armor and old behaviors of how we are supposed to think, feel and act. There is a part of us that craves for that deeper connection to our internal integrity, authenticity and spirit. So how can we align ourselves with this bigger “knowing” while we go through a life change or even through a traumatic experience?

Each person’s path will be unique. Can we allow ourselves to reach out and connect with others for help and support? Can we can accept that we are not in control of most things in our life and certainly not other people? Can we see and feel ourselves as part of something bigger and that this bigger force is moving us in a way that is unfathomable to our human minds? If we have faith that we can move with this bigger force – well then maybe during our “letting go” we will be able to feel our feelings with the support of the ground beneath our feet, the birds singing to us in the trees, the people connected to us and the energy of the mystery of life moving beside and aligned with us.

How do we align ourselves with this bigger energy? First we need to listen. To listen, we need to find that speed limit and pace in our lives so that we can listen deeply to what is moving within and around us. To slow down, or in some cases speed up, so we can dim the mind chatter of fearful thoughts and listen to what our deeper self is trying to tell us; to hear the signal from the noise. Listening for the felt sense of your life which is present, in the moment and constantly changing instead of the static, limiting and often-times oppressive beliefs that keep us small. When we listen to and feel the constant change and movement within us we can then move in unison and alignment – like a highly attuned dance partner being lead and following blissfully. All we can do in “being danced” is to keep our feet and balance and move with grace and surrender along the way. We can go willingly or we can go kicking and screaming, but either way we are going!

A few years ago I was in a life circumstance where I was not moving gracefully with that bigger energy. I was burnt out and dealing with compassion fatigue professionally and was living in an isolated community away from my usual supports and wellness/healthy lifestyle pursuits. I was struggling physically and emotionally. Old rigid beliefs that dictated “life is hard work” and “you have to keep helping people even if you don’t have the energy” and “you can’t leave this community/profession” until you secure something else back in Victoria” kept me in suffering despite intense messages from my body, heart and spirit. It was only until my “grip” could no longer clench onto those old ways, due to exhaustion, was I forced to let go. From that moment on I learned in a deeply felt way to listen to the gentler and more subtle messages from within and have faith in them. Since that acceptance occurred my life has flowed with more ease, gentleness and compassion to myself and others in a sustainable way. By letting go and accepting the energy that is moving all of us, things have flowed to me with more and more ease. The more I let go, the easier it came.

We cannot stop or control this big dance, it will take us regardless. Letting go of the illusion that we are in control of our lives can be a very freeing first step of our dance. All we can do is learn how to move in step with it.

Jim Kragtwyk
M. Ed, CCC, ICADC
Medicine Moves Movement Psychotherapy and Counselling Services
Victoria, BC

Category : Counselling Posted on January 24, 2010

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