What Do You Need to Release in the New Year?

Thoughts on letting go of what no longer serves us

Jan 15, 2019

Personal Development Self-Awareness Resolutions
dandelion with seeds flying

Photo by Dawid Zawiła

The sun is setting on this Sunday afternoon. It will come back, I have to reassure myself, with the looming darkness. The sky, shades of buttermilk and saffron. Kids below in the park, making snow angels before the snow melts, as it will. The passing of January, taking place right before my eyes, in spurts of moments and people flitting to-and-fro. There is a sacredness to it all that I want to grasp and hold onto, even as I know it is futile to try. But if I have learned anything, it is that it’s not in the grasping that life teaches us what we need to learn… it’s in the releasing.

As we face another new year, another square one, one of the best and most revealing questions I have found we can ask ourselves is — what is it I need to let go of? What do I need to release? Or whom? We can add so much toxicity to our plate and our mind that it begins to weigh us down long before we notice. Negative thoughts, people, habits, jobs, experiences, all tugging at our attention and energy until they are both depleted. How do we begin the process of releasing what no longer serves us?

It starts with awareness, a recognition of what it is that we need to release in the first place. If we don’t know what is toxic in our life, how can we let it go? So become aware of the negative influences in your life.

Second, be willing. We can’t let go of negativity if we have a reason to hold on to it, however perverted the reasoning. Ask yourself — What is the payoff for holding on? If a relationship in my life is toxic, but I’m holding on for the sake of not wanting to hurt that person and therefore be disliked, I am less willing to end the relationship. Here, willingness and courage go hand-in-hand. It takes courage to break off one way of living and establish a new one.

Third, break the emotional attachment as well as the physical. Whether we can admit it or not, that which is bad for us has an emotional bond over us. It is meeting some need we have, albeit in an unhealthy way. Removing negativity outwardly isn’t enough; we have to emotionally detach. How? Perhaps forgiveness is called for, perhaps writing our feelings about it until we have nothing left to say, or perhaps going to counseling or taking a solo trip. Find what works.

And lastly, replace what you have released with a positive addition to your life. It is ok to have a void in your life for a while where the negativity used to be. It can be such a relief to have that spaciousness and calm. But eventually, fill it with all the things you love that you know are good for you and fill your emotional tank. Good food, good friendships, good hobbies. The heart could always use more delight.

I love what Jamie Varon says in one of her recent Instagram posts:

Fill your empty spaces with rituals you’re excited to do every day…add more things to your life that feel good and you will end up doing less things that don’t feel good… add more and more until your life is so full you have little space left for the things you don’t want to do. Try that out in 2019. Let’s see how it goes.

In the spirit of transparency, here is what I am letting go of in 2019:

Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Here’s the best part: when we let go of what no longer serves us, we make room for the universal forces that want the best for us to come into our life. We are saying, ‘I am ready for something better. I am open to see what unfolds.’ The universe can work with your receptiveness; it can’t work with your resistance.

What are you letting go of in 2019? What is no longer serving you? I’d love to know.