Have you ever noticed that when it comes to letting something go, we get all agitated and resistant? It’s like when people talk about having a gratitude practice or meditating — science has shown over and over that these practices absolutely increase happiness, and yet we’re totally resistant to them and get borderline annoyed by even talking about them.
Well, that’s stupid, and I need you to hear me when I say that it’s time to get over yourself and let some things go.
The following rituals are inconvenient. They require you to work. You’re going to have to sit down, take deep breaths, feel your pain, cry, and otherwise be uncomfortable. And you know what? It’s all totally worth it, and so are you. You are worth taking five to twenty minutes to do these things so that you can start to feel happier. Trust me.
Good? Okay, good.
So you know how I’m always saying in the comments of these posts that you just have to let it go to get it back. But you can’t BS your way through letting go, you actually have to really do it. And that’s the trick: if you’re strategizing about letting something go in the hopes that you’ll get it back, it won’t work. A boomerang works when you really throw it out there, not when you try to throw it to yourself.
I’ve tried a lot of exercises to let things go, whether releasing an ex-love or trying to let a situation that was causing me suffering dissipate. I’ve learned a few things that I’m excited to share with you, because this shit really works!
First, make sure you’re entering these rituals with the REAL intention of letting go. You’ll know you’re ready if you’re sick of yourself and your suffering/drama/story. When a sad thought comes up and you actually roll your eyes at yourself because you’re so tired of replaying the same mental loop, that’s a good time to try this stuff.
If you still have a huge interest in re-telling your story, convincing people that you’re right or that you’ve been victimized, then it is not yet the time for these. They will not work. You have to get to the point where you’re really ready to release some of your grip on the emotions that are keeping you suffering.
You can totally do this. I believe in you!
Ritual 1: Tell your story three times, and then ban yourself from telling it anymore.
This is a Navajo Forgiveness Ritual that I just think is so incredible. A little history: the wounded person would sit in the center of a circle, tell his or her story three times — in full detail. So all of the yucky parts, all of the sad parts, the whole windup, the crashing blow. The people in the circle listened without speaking and sent the speaker their deepest compassion. After the third time the story was told, the listeners would turn their backs on the speaker. Meaning, enough is enough — after three full times telling the story, you’ve re-lived it enough. Time to let go. (Here is a really cool link on this ritual if you want to read more!)
Why this works: Re-telling the story over and over can actually harm you by keeping you presently wrapped up in past pain. That being said, it IS important to tell your story to get it out of your system. Once you’ve been truly heard by your friends and loved ones, it’s time to stop telling the story. Ask a dear friend to listen to you tell your story three times and tell him/her that the intention is that after the third time you tell the story, you will choose to never tell it again. Make sure you pour allllllll of the details into your story, every detail from beginning to end, all the ways you were hurt…make it really juicy. Get it all out. And when you’re done, you’re done. This exercise is incredibly powerful.
Ritual 2: Burn that sh!t.
I’ve done this one several times and it’s especially helpful after breakups. Take an item that belonged to the person who hurt you — it can be anything (a shirt, a card written to you, or anything that’s flammable) and place it somewhere that it will not set fire to other things (safety first)! Hold the item in your hands for a long time and speak to the person who has hurt you with everything you’ve wanted to say but couldn’t. You can choose to say you’re releasing yourself from all the pain in your situation (and detail specifically what you are letting go of); you can say you’re forgiving this person for what was done to you and releasing all ties…whatever feels right to you. Then get your lighter and set that thing on fire, baby. Make sure you watch it burn until it’s done. This is SO healing and I’ve done it several times!
Why this works: Seeing something physically exist and then disappear is a pretty cool metaphor for the feelings you’re having — this is a great way to show yourself that your feelings of anger/hurt/loss CAN fade away. Also, there’s something really satisfying about watching something burn, especially if it’s something that belonged to the person who hurt you. WARNING: Well, I have two warnings. One is that you are old enough to know to be CAREFUL when burning something, because fire is dangerous, so don’t be an idiot. Have a fire extinguisher, water, or something to smother a flame with nearby if you’re doing this, and DUH, don’t do it on a windy day. The second warning is that sometimes this ritual can cause the person you’re thinking of to feel that something is up, I don’t know why. I burned C’s cards he’d given me, and after months of not hearing from him, he texted me THAT day. Often people can feel when you’re letting go of them, so don’t be surprised if they drop in on you after you’ve done this. (And don’t let that be a motive for doing it either, you weirdo!)
Ritual 3: Throwing stones.
Ever heard of a gratitude stone? Well, this is the opposite. Pick a stone up at the beginning of a week and carry it around with you for seven days. Every time you feel depressed, anxious, worried, or angry, place the stone in your hand and visualize transferring the feelings to the stone. See the depression and anxiety swirling in your body, through your arm, into your hand and leaving your fingers as it transfers into the stone. Practice this as many times as necessary and for as long each time as you need to. (I recommend at least one minute each time.) After seven days, go to the nearest body of water or hike somewhere far up. Place the stone in your hand and say, “This stone has taken my heavy burden from me. I now release my burden so that I may feel light and free again.” Then throw it. See your heavy feelings going with the stone, and choose to really believe that you’ve released the heaviest part of your burden. The remainder of your healing time will be considerably easier.
Why this works: People have long believed that rocks and stones can be charged with feelings. Utilizing visualization to place your pain outside of yourself and then transferring that pain physically away from you isn’t just symbolic, guys. Taking seven days to experience your pain fully when it’s overtaking you and then allowing yourself to release it is totally effective.
Ritual 4: Cut the cord.
I’ve read about this exercise in several books and successfully completed it, and it’s another visualization technique. At night, dim the lights in your room, sit on the floor or on the bed comfortably and close your eyes. If you don’t have a quiet space of your own, you can also do this in nature or your car! Breathe quietly for several minutes and once you’re very calm, bring someone who has hurt you into your mind’s eye. Immediately notice that how you’re feeling will change. Perhaps you’ll feel anxiety, or sadness, or anger when the person who hurt you shows up in your mind — that’s all okay. You’re energetically tied to this person because of the time and emotional wound you’ve shared. Envision this energetic connection as a cord tied to both of you. Some people see a rope, while others see a wire or thread tied tightly around each of you, connecting you together. Once you see your cord, speak to the person you’re tied to. You can say something like, “You really hurt me by _______________. Because of that, I am severing the connection between us.” Really take your time during this part and say everything you need to say. (HINT: It can be really powerful if you choose to forgive the person before you cut this cord. You may not be ready to, but I encourage you to repeat this exercise several times for as long as you need to until you are.) When you’re done speaking, visualize cutting the cord between you in your mind. When letting go of C, I imagined taking these giant, gleaming scissors and snipping the red cord that bound us. I could really feel my energy shift when I did this and I repeated the exercise any time I felt like I was bound to him again. You can use whatever imagery you want to sever your cord. I highly recommend you do this!
Why this works: Just because someone isn’t physically in your presence doesn’t mean you’re not still interacting…whether only in your mind, or energetically. If you’re curious about this, I highly recommend reading anything by Lynne McTaggart or checking out how physicists theorize that quantum entanglement can affect human beings. Seeing yourself cutting the ties that bind you can really allow you to take back your power.
Ritual 5: Sage.
So I’d heard about burning sage, but never actually tried it until recently. My energy was all blocked and yucky over something I was experiencing at work, and when I met with my girlfriends one night to do our yearly ritual of making vision boards, my friend Marianne said, “Ugh, your energy is all weird,” AND SHE LITERALLY PULLED SAGE OUT OF HER BAG AND BURNED IT ALL AROUND ME. (I wish I was making this up.) She’d recently burned sage to release — you guessed it — an ex who wouldn’t leave her be. The cool thing about sage is that it’s cheap and you can dip it in water when you’re done burning it and save it for when you need it again. You can use sage to clear any icky ju-ju out of your home or workplace, or you can swirl it around your body to clean up any bad feelings. As you’re burning it, you can say a mantra like, “I’m only allowing in love and light,” or, “I’m clearing out old energy to make room for what’s new.” WARNING: After sage burns, it kind of smells like, um, well, you’ve been smoking something, so if you live with other people, make sure you tell them you’re planning on burning sage and that you’re not smoking something herbal. 😉
Why this works: If you’re feeling lack of closure or like you’re stuck in a fog of bad vibes, burning sage can give you the push you need to let the bad feelings go and usher better feelings in.
So those are five rituals that I recommend for letting things go, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. There are so many things you can do to help yourself let something go! Here are some of my favorites:
— Exercise daily and really see yourself gaining strength over your pain. I recommend this for ANYONE who has experienced any kind of deep wound. Transforming physically absolutely facilitates transforming emotionally.
— Write an unsent letter to the person who hurt you and say every.single.thing you wish you could have said. Read it aloud and then, you guessed it: BURN IT! (Never send it. OMG seriously, never send it. Even if it’s Pulitzer-worthy and the best thing ever written…do not ever send it!)
— Set a timer on your phone for five minutes and allow your pain to completely engulf you. Really see it descending out of storm clouds and completely taking you over. When the five minutes are done, open the door and see your pain leaving. Often we resist fully feeling our pain, which is why it lingers for so long. Allowing it to have full control for just five minutes will enable you to release it much more quickly.
— Give yourself one more week to talk about the situation. On the seventh day, let your loved ones know that you will no longer be speaking about what happened or saying the name(s) of anyone who hurt you. Get any last complaints/story-telling/feelings out by midnight. Ask them to hold you accountable. You will be surprised by how helpful it is to simply have the intention of letting something go.
— Meditate daily. Everyone resists this one, but it so helps. Try to get through 21 days of doing it with the intention of being healed every time you do so. Five minutes is enough, and try to work up to twenty. Meditating was so instrumental during my breakup with C.
— Close your eyes and have the conversation you wish you could have had with the person who did hurt you. Ask him/her why it happened the way that it did, and truly listen for the answers. This is SO effective and has been very helpful for me in the past. When you complete this exercise, see yourself hugging the person and apologizing for your part in what happened (because whether you want to admit it or not…you absolutely had a part in what happened). Really feel the hug and then wish the person well.
— This one comes from my #girlcrush Susanne Conrad — in your mind, go back in time to the moment of the hurt and allow THIS you to give the PAST you what was needed. What did that past you, who was being wounded so deeply, truly need? Was it a hug, or reassurance that it would be alright? Was it someone to advocate for you? Was it someone strong to usher people out of the room so you could be alone? Whatever it was that you needed then, envision this PRESENT you giving it to yourself. SO.FREAKING.POWERFUL!
— Change your language from “I need to let it go” or “I’m having trouble letting go” to simply, “I’m letting it go.” I just did this with my situation that had me bummed out. I felt better in twenty-four hours. I cannot emphasize ENOUGH the importance of the language you use. It is EVERYTHING.
— Delete anyone who has hurt you from your phone, Facebook, Instagram and anywhere else. It is so crucial when you’ve been hurt to take your power back and to eliminate any unexpected run-ins, whether physically or digitally, with that person. Don’t worry about what they’ll think of it — they know why you’re deleting them! If forgiveness occurs later, you can always re-add. Trust me!
Do you have any helpful rituals for letting things go that you’d like to share? Comment below and let me know — I’d love to hear them!
I wish you speed and healing in your quest to let it go. You can do it, I promise!