Many years ago, I shared a house with a woman I met while I was in grad school. We did not know each other well when we became roommates, but we built a friendship over time. One winter evening, we ordered Chinese food and sat in front of the fire– eating, drinking, and talking until late in the night.
She shared a story with me about a disturbing experience she had when she was just out of high school. In recounting the story, she tapped into the pain of the experience, and she lay on the floor in front of the fire, weeping openly. The sobs came from deep inside and grew louder and louder. It was a kind of keening for dreams she considered dead, for a relationship out of reach, for a desire that got off track–for deep regrets she clutched tightly for two decades.
While she was crying, I remember thinking: I wish I could be that free.
We are encouraged to open our hearts and let love in, but we also need to open our hearts to let out those feelings that are less-than-love. Skating past pain and hurt or pretending our negative emotions don’t exist isn’t the answer. Stuffing feelings down with food, drink, drugs, or sex so we can no longer feel them doesn’t bring release–it brings trouble. Our feelings will find a way to be heard because they are vibratory in nature; they attract their like because like attracts like. Release of the negative helps us make room for the positive.
Allow Yourself Freedom
My very own heart has been a one-way street for too long; my natural impulse seems to be to hang on instead of letting go. Now, I want clarity. I want freedom. I want alignment. I want to experience peace of mind–to release the conflicts I have buried deep inside, hoping to forget about, and I want to let go of the negative memories and emotions I have been carrying for years.
The mystical poet Rumi suggests: “Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop”;
I want to be that tree. I want to be alive, to shed my dead leaves as I reach upward to the sky. I want to be ready for the new buds to blossom.
To that end, I have been praying, meditating, and writing in my journal. Recently, I was trying to sort through a hurtful situation, and I was lead to release the negative I had been holding onto by pulling out my journal and writing a series of “release statements.” I wrote one and then another until I had twelve statements that related directly to my situation.
Here they are exactly as I wrote them:
I release all the sadness.
I release all that waiting.
I release all those unfulfilled expectations.
I release the pain of being excluded.
I release the fear of being alone.
I release the feeling of being inadequate.
I release the fear of never hearing your voice again.
I release the need to please you.
I release the feeling of being trapped.
I release the feeling of having done something wrong.
I release the guilt of wanting more. I release the shame of not knowing.
I did not have to write out every single detail of the situation I was releasing; I understood and still understand the nuance of each line—and I gained much relief from writing each line. I have felt so much lighter–freer–since writing them in my prayer journal.
How to Let Go of The Negative
- Think of a conflict in your life–a personal relationship, a workplace situation, or a specific event.
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath or two.
- Try to get in touch with the feelings you are carrying.
- When you are ready, begin your list.
- Start each line with the words “I release” and see what comes to you.
- Write whatever comes; don’t resist even if doesn’t make sense to you in the moment.
- Let go of the feelings one by one.
- Afterward, bless yourself and bless the situation.
There is a beautiful chant, written by Karen Drucker, that expresses the fruits of release:
I am beautiful. I am powerful. I’ve let go of my past and celebrate who I’ve become. I am beautiful. I am powerful. And I celebrate who I am.
I want to celebrate who I am–and I want you to celebrate who you are. And so it is–and so it shall be.
Jill A. Lahnstein is a mother, a teacher, a writer, and a jewelry artist. She lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, with her teenage daughter Angel and their little canine sidekick Sunny. She has spent over 20 years teaching English to college students. Most of her experience has been with those students who are first-generation, economically disadvantaged, or disabled. She fervently believes that every moment–inside the classroom and outside the classroom–can be a healing moment.