The Emotional Detox: The Practice of Letting It Go
Updated: May 19
Confession time. I’m a control freak. To the point where I try to control my control. Only to realize that my control of my control makes me more out of control! There’s a saying that reads “what you resist persists.” So I’ve got to stop controlling my control, right? Add it to the list! Am I alone here? Come on my friends, ‘fess up!
Many of us learn the fine art of control very early on. It truly can be a survival mechanism that we may have needed to manage challenging roads as we journeyed into adulthood. But, like all good things, it’s time for it to come to an end. It’s time to let go! In fact, there’s something very liberating about airing out your dirty, stinky laundry, almost like a cleansing squirt of Febreeze for the soul! Let’s call it an ”emotional detox.”
All ancient wisdom teachings urge their followers to “let go.” C.S. Lewis, the famous Christian author encapsulates the necessity of letting go when he says, “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” And in his song “Moonshadow,” good old Cat Stevens, an Islamic convert and my favorite 1970s musical guru, says it best, “And if I ever lose my legs/I won’t moan/and I won’t beg/Yes if I ever lose my legs…I won’t have to walk no more.” Ancient Jewish wisdom urges parents to understand the tremendous blessings of the proverbial “skinned knee.” Let go of the back of the bicycle seat, parents, and let them fall!
Speaking of parenting, I was recently talking with a fellow type-A mama bear who is also desperately trying to walk the path of release. We laughed at the oxymoronic juxtapositions in our personalities and desires. I shared with my friend this quote by Florida Scotts Maxwell, ”No matter how old a mother is, she watches her middle aged children for signs of improvement.” I vow, right here, in front of you all, in black and white, to learn to let go before my precious controlled kids are middle aged.
Sounds good. So, what’s my plan? Well, it’s a bit wysiwyg and might not be what you expect for an emotional release, but in my own journey to loosen my grip and let go of my control freak ways, life has thrown the ultimate in my face. Challenged me to my core. Revealed the ”holy grail” of emotional baths. It’s taught me that the best way to gently walk the path of least resistance is to daily practice the fine and sometimes painful art of forgiveness. Yes, my friends, forgiveness.
I’d like to challenge you to try on this notion of forgiveness and perhaps consider a “forgiveness detox” for 2017. Why? Because you are worth it. Anne Lamont, American novelist, says it best. “Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” Often times the source of our pain, the person or event that hurt us, has no idea we remain captive in the toxicity. Sometimes, they don’t even care. WE are the ones being “poisoned” by our resistance to let go. Forgiveness is a soul-level cleanse for ourselves.
Before we get started, I want to mention a powerful notion called “the collective consciousness.” This occurs when more than one person engages in a transformational
practice. The results are contagious and exponential. So let’s jump on the “peace train” together, knowing that collectively we create a healing synergy, whereby our new whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Although our collective intention to heal increases the power of the practice for our greater community, the intention behind the practice of forgiveness should remain solely for you.
Wondering how to start? Here are some steps on the forgiveness path to nudge you on your way:
Choose a person or an event in your life that you are ready to let go of, ready to release, ready to forgive. Or maybe one that you are still white-knuckling. Who or what is it? Write it down or speak it to your heart now.
Honor that forgiveness is not a condoning of what the person did or what happened. Give yourself full permission to remain protected. So say or write down this: “I can forgive and I can release __________ without condoning what happened and without ever allowing it to happen again. I forgive as a compassionate gesture toward me.”
Make peace with the fact that unlike most habit changing tools, forgiveness practice does not have to be quick, and sometimes it takes more than 21 days! Right now, say or write this “I give myself permission to forgive in my heart and to allow my heart to take as long as it needs to make peace with the grief and all the toxic emotions that no longer serve me. But today, I make a choice to let go and heal.”
Say this prayer daily. It is inspired by a sacred forgiveness tradition shared with me by my dear meditation teacher, Caren. “I lift up _______________and release him/her. I ask the innate intelligence of my body to find any remains of hurt and pain residing in my being at a conscious or unconscious level and let it go. I choose to invite the freedom of forgiveness now and forever.”
As you begin this forgiveness journey, congratulate yourself for exercising the courage to release, for reaching for your soul’s harmony. There is great freedom in letting go. There is renewed energy when we no longer have to micro-manage the toxic emotions. The liberation of forgiveness brings a lightness and a true cleansing.
The gentle and wise psychologist, Jack Kornfield, shares a story that has impacted me greatly. He reiterates Lamott’s suggestion that is it WE who are poisoning ourselves by not forgiving. He tells of an American ex-prisoner of war who met a fellow ex-prisoner of war years after the Vietnam War. The first POW asks the second, “Have you forgiven your captors yet?” The second POW responds with forced strength, “No! Never!” The first POW looks at him and says, “Well, I guess they still have you imprisoned then, don’t they?”
May you find deep inner healing as you practice these four simple steps, knowing that your forgiveness practice not only bathes and frees your own soul, but through forgiveness, you can heal our world.