Autumn or Fall is the time when nature leads by example, by shedding what it doesn’t need, retaining only what’s necessary to sustain it through the winter & when seeds nestle underground ready to sprout in Spring.
I love to take nature’s lead & review my year to date, decide what seeds I want to nurture over the winter & what I can let go. And I don’t just mean clothes.
This last 18 months life has changed, which of those changes do you want to keep?
For many of us, life is different from how it was a couple of years ago, new things have entered & others have fallen away. I certainly don’t want to go straight back to life before but consciously retain what’s worked well & let go of those things which don’t enrich me. If you feel like that too here are some questions which will support you to get clarity.
Also, for many readers the hardest time of year is fast approaching & answering these questions will help you to focus on what’s good/positive in your life & also give you clarity & resilience with which to approach it.
So here are the questions:
I encourage you to set aside some time, perhaps over a few days to work through the questions below. What works well for me is to write down my responses & consider them over a few days, as each time I add to them the answers come from a deeper place.
At first sight, it may look like a long list, but trust me its worth taking your time & answering them all. As you work through, you’ll build up a picture of those things which are key to your happiness & those which drain you.
What brings happiness & joy to my life? Or what inspires me, enriches my life, what do I love?
What have I taken in over the past few months? You could also ask, how have I changed?
What do I value & want to keep?
And what do I want to let go?
Is there anything missing in my life (& how will I add it)?
How specifically will I let go of those things which no longer serve me?
How will I refine those things I want to keep?
I really loved this exercise; it was an opportunity to read through my journals, to see how I’ve changed as well as highlighting other areas to work on.
What will stay
The easy part for me was noting the positives & what I want to keep. A few things which stood out were the importance of spending time on my own & also to regularly be in the countryside. I’ve previously called myself an explorer & harnessing this through continued learning, studying & creativity brought me a lot of joy. These, & other things I’ll be taking forward.
And what to let go
Personally, I find it easy to make a list of things I want to let go of, but it’s not until I ask myself how specifically I’ll do it that anything happens. And even then, nothing’s guaranteed. There are 2 things which hold me back grief (or not wanting to feel it) & attachment.
First there’s grief
I can’t write about letting go without mentioning grief, the emotion we least want to feel but can’t avoid, no matter how hard we try. Everything we let go has to be grieved, whether it be a person we love, a way of life, beliefs, wishes we had for life, dreams ….and (as I wrote here) without letting go there’s no space for new to enter. And sometimes it’s the fear of going through grief which keeps us stuck.
Then the tricky issue of attachment
The extent to which you’re attached to something, be it an item, a feeling, or an idea of who you are, determines whether or not you’re able to let it go. As we see in nature, everything which has a beginning, also has an end & when we hold onto things without allowing them to end naturally, we cause ourselves suffering. You know this in your heart especially when I say that I don’t mean possessions.
One skill I’ve developed over the past few years is the art of distraction, I use it regularly, especially when I start to dig into something juicy. I’m not sure where the habit comes from, but I know that, in addition to wasting a lot of time it stops me from working out answers to deeper questions & therefore causes me to suffer. I also know that at the root is an old belief about myself which is no longer true.
So the questions I ask are:
How much am I attached to ideas or beliefs I have about myself or wishes about who I might have been?
And how would my life change if I let these go?
And yes, I know these are big questions & as I’ve written, I’m also finding them a challenge. No matter how many times I tell myself that I’ve done this before & there are many positives on the other side of letting go, I find it hard to do it. But I am committed & it’s happening one step at a time.
And I remind myself that my experience of moving through grief to acceptance has opened me to appreciating the value & preciousness of what I have & being inspired to make the most out of life.
I’ve answered the questions, now what do I do?
Once you’ve worked through the questions, you’ll have more clarity about what brings you joy & what doesn’t enrich you. Some may be obvious to action now, & others not.
We’re heading into Winter which is not the best time to make big changes (despite what New Year Resolutions addicts tell you), instead think of your answers as seeds you’re planting, some will sprout in Spring & some won’t. So plant them in your heart & trust that it knows what’s best for you & will reveal it in good time. Until then be patient & wait to see what emerges.
Thank you for reading. I’d love to know how this resonates with you so please leave a comments below.
You can read more about reconnecting with your body, letting go & many other topics in Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness & you can download Chapter One when you sign up to my email list.