One little song
Give me strength to leave the sad and the wrong
Buried safely in the past where I’ve been living
Alive but unforgiving
Let me go, let me go, let me go, let me go
Christmas seems to be a time of year when many of us are facing our old “demons” again. This time of reflection and stillness, when the year comes to a halt, seems to be calling for a confrontation with our innermost – and old childhood memories and experience that had long been forgotten, or buried deep down in our subconscious, sometimes pop up again. Even more so when gathering with family and old friends from the past.
For me, this has certainly been the case.
Spending some time in the house where I grew up, without really noticing I got caught up again in emotional states I thought I had long left behind me. Old grudges surfaced again like old annoying acquaintances and led to all sorts of unhealthy behavior. And, what’s worse, unhealthy ways of thinking. About those close to me, but especially about myself. It seemed as if my whole concept of self, of who I am, who I want to, can, and am allowed to be, had to be renegotiated.
…the past where I’ve been living / Alive but unforgiving
And the more I became aware of this, the more I struggled with this dilemma. I didn’t want to feel the way I felt and so I became virtually obsessed with attempting to finally get rid of these destructive beliefs and behavioral patterns. I wanted to let go of all the childhood trauma and to finally forgive those I found myself to still hold a grudge against. Easier said than done. And so I started pitying myself for being so entangled in my past. Again.
But what can you actively do to finally let go of the past and move on, in a healthy way? I still don’t have an answer to this and I admit that I’m probably not even halfway there. But an idea crossed my mind that I encountered during my NLP training a couple of years ago. Which is that, by focusing on something we do NOT want, we are still focusing on this very unwanted thing – behavior, thought, whatever it might be. And by focusing on it we fuel it with even more energy and attention, making it almost impossible to let go of this issue. The well-known idea that energy flows where attention goes.
…change this way of living
Clearly the attempt to consciously let go did not work. And so, when someone close to me suggested to try something new, make an experiment, I decided to give it a try. There wasn’t much else I could do anyway.
And I came to think that, maybe, it’s not so much about letting go, but rather about letting be. About embracing what is and what has been, and accepting that our past is a part of us. And about reminding ourselves that we are still free to choose anew, each day, in which direction we want to go and which thoughts and ideas we want to cultivate.
At least this is what I am doing now. And what this song by the Avett Brothers keeps reminding me of: that we aren’t captives of our past and that we are free to decide to move on however we like.
And so far it has been working for me. Interestingly, since I accepted these old emotional states and beliefs to be a part of me, they seem to have faded a bit and lost some power.
And so I feel ready to welcome the new year – a year where I will be able to choose, each day, who I want to be and in which direction I want to proceed.
Souls like the wings
Spreading out, away from bad memories
Make us capable of taking off and landing
Alive with understanding.
May it be a year full of new beginnings and happiness for all of us.