Eastern traditions often talk about suffering, attachment and how the letting go of worldly goods and/or ideas can bring inner peace and freedom. It’s basically a message about simplicity – being more conscious and simplifying life by practicing deeper awareness of our thoughts and emotions.
With all the complexities of modern life it seems that many people are yearning for greater ease and simplicity. As we accumulate things and ideas our lives can become denser and more complicated. There can be a sense of impurity, as if unhealthy elements have been added to the mix of our daily reality.
Some people reach a state of enlightenment or have epiphanies when all they have is taken away from them. In some instances it can be possessions that are all destroyed in a fire, a flood, or a hurricane that seem to erase a person’s history. An important relationship that ends can create loss as well as new insights. Individuals who have found themselves in prison can lose their physical freedom only to gain inner peace and freedom. Since we can accumulate so many possessions there are many ways they can be suddenly taken away.
Rather than focusing on the popular “Law of Attraction” consider working with the “Law of Subtraction”. Whereas the popular “Law of Attraction” focuses on controlling life through thought to create something, the “Law of Subtraction” is about letting go of attachments to people, possessions, and ideas. This can create openness, surrender, flexibility and grace, allowing for the experience of deep inner peace. Here are some things to consider letting go of.
1. Let Go of Draining People
We have a lot of guilt and complex social rules around relationships. If you find yourself feeling weak, under appreciated, out of sync, or put upon by other people, feel free to let them go. First, do it mentally, telling yourself that you will not be drained, and then physically – create space. Draining people will eat up your time and energy – both precious resources. Sometimes the drain comes from being out of sync because you are simply on different wavelengths. There may be no conflict per se, but you may suddenly no longer have the desire to be with someone or a social or work group due to your own growth. The same thing can happen with an idea. Know when to let go of people and situations when they no longer serve your growth or enliven you.
2. Let Go of Burdensome Beliefs
A belief that you have to be perfect, that you have to create harmony with all people, or that it’s very bad if something does not turn out the way you expect it to, are examples of beliefs that you may want to release. It can be very simple to do this. The key is to question your beliefs. You may find that many are not real or valid for you when you examine them. Also, you can trade out burdensome beliefs for new ones that do make sense for you.
3. Let Go of the Past
Until we learn how to build time travel machines and go back to our past to change things we regret, a better approach may be focusing on what actions you can do right now – in the present. Learn from the past, appreciate your past experiences, and accept that whatever happened was perfect because that past was the pathway to where you are right now. What you do from this moment onward is new and totally up to you. You may find your journey lighter if you let go of the past by seeing that it is done and over. What did you learn? What can you do differently now? These are the questions to ask rather than sitting in the past.
4. Let Go of Comparisons
It’s very easy to adopt ideas and standards that are not practical or honoring to ourselves. You may not become a supermodel, win millions of dollars in the state lottery, achieve enlightenment, or have what others have. So what? Your exploration is unique. Other people may appear to have things that you do not or be things that you are not, but your value is intrinsic. You do not need to have what other people have to be happy or be at peace. Do what makes sense for you, for who you are. Let go of comparing yourself to others. Who knows what their lessons are?
5. Let Go of Worry
Worry stems from negative beliefs, self-imposed limitations, and a sense that things will go bad. Most of the time they do not. The only worry you need to have is allowing your fears to rob you of joy and peace right now. The next time you are in the grip of a worry, focus instead on something you love, appreciate or enjoy. Ask yourself, “What am I really worried about? What is the fear?” This can help you to create a dialogue with yourself rather than be stuck in the stranglehold of worry.
6. Let Go of Mental Work
Despite analysis, planning, and endless talk about an issue, some things just resolve themselves. Do we have to figure life out? Can we ever? Sometimes the best thing you can do is to focus on what you want to experience by setting a clear intention and then giving your mind a break. Your mind is like your body – you can only push it so far before it gets exhausted. Oftentimes new ideas will come at the oddest moments of relaxation that may answer your mind’s need for information or resolution. Ask questions and let the Universe do the work of giving you more answers in the fullness of time.
7. Let Go of Letting Go
One of the most annoying things to hear from other people when you are stressed out is “Don’t worry” or “Relax” or “Let it go”. While trying to be helpful with this type of advice and support there is a way to let go of letting go and that is to let things be what they are. If you are angry – be angry – get it out of your system - and then you can relax. If you are running around like an anxious chicken with its head cut off then be anxious and stressed out. Letting go is a choice, not a burden. Some days you can be at peace and other days you might not be able to. Let go when you feel like letting go. Let go of feeling you need to let go because it is the “Spiritual” thing to do.
The path of joy is about traveling lightly. Lighten your load by using the “Law of Subtraction” and you may find your journeys to be easier.