Spring has officially arrived in the Northeastern US. In this part of the country spring is the season of new color and new growth, but I think spring is welcomed everywhere as a time of renewal. It seems Mother Nature knows how to release what’s no longer working in order to make room for what is new. All living things have a natural instinct for this same releasing/renewing process. Our bodies automatically know to exhale in order to make room for new oxygen.
Unfortunately, as we mature, we practice collecting more than we practice letting go. We cling to our wounds all the back from our childhood. We stockpile our failures, allowing them to create fears and resistance to change. We maintain our inventory of times we didn’t measure up to someone else’s expectations. We hang onto the resulting feelings that we are not enough.
These old thought patterns and definitions are confining,. They confine us to a very negative place where we stop seeing that there are other possibilities. It’s necessary to regularly perform a spring-cleaning on what we’re holding on to that’s not working for us. If we are willing to consider that the old ideas we’ve become used to are not entirely accurate, we leave space for new, life enhancing, ways of thinking.
My cousin is a loving father to his 16 year old son, but his job demands that he spend weeks at a time out of state and he misses many evenings and weekends with his family. Over the Easter holiday father and son spent an entire afternoon on the golf course together.
Afterward, his son told my cousin that he wished they could spend time together more often. My cousin, whose habitual thinking includes a great deal of self-recrimination, heard his son’s comment as a criticism that he isn’t available enough.
By the time he came home for the holiday dinner my cousin felt angry with his son for what he perceived to be a lack of gratitude. He was disappointed in himself and felt he’d been abad father. On top of these reactions he piled some old, well-worn guilt and frustration that he was unable to live up to the expectations of the people he loves. The family dinner wastense. Afterward, the teen quickly retreated to his room feeling the weight of his father’s upset, but having no idea what he had done. My cousin, unable to let go of his insecurities and limited perceptions, lost the opportunity and potential that had presented themselves in that golf outing.
We may not always be able to recall where we left our keys, but when it comes to holding onto grudges, old behaviors, and thought patterns our minds are very efficient. Our minds wrap around habitual thoughts like a clenched fist. However, to reach out for something new, you have to open your fist and let go of what you’re gripping.
Originally posted on MindBodyGreen.