“Letting Go” Doesn’t Work

“Why can’t I just let it go?” We’ve all thought it, right?  “How can I just let go.” “Let it go!”  How does it make you feel when you hear this?  I know I have felt angry, frustrated, and ashamed when I have heard these things.

Angry because it feels impossible (and it is, I’ll get to that in a second), frustrated because I don’t like not being able to do something, and ashamed because clearly my display of emotion or displeasure has had me commit a social faux pas and made another uncomfortable. (This is a symptom of Feminine Shame, by the way…).

To me, “let go” as it pertains to trauma, grief, challenges, and pain, sounds like a plea to simply disengage this wounded part and separate from it.  To release it and throw it away.  And anyone who has ever experienced pain, which is every human ever, knows that to simply “let it go” or “release it” just isn’t possible.

There is only one thing to do and that is to transmute it. 

Transforming vs Transmuting

The definition of transmute, which has received a lot of attention and popularity in the current New Age-y atmosphere is this: to change in form, nature, or substance.

Transform is a synonym; however, I dislike it and don’t think it captures the essence of what’s possible.  Transform is more like to change from the outside in, whereas transmute is from the inside out.  Transmutation involves completely changing, rearranging, and creating anew the subtle pieces of something.

Transformation allows us to shift the way something is done thereby influencing it to still maintain the same end goal or same method but without actually transmuting the core issue itself.  It’s simply creating a newer, more hospitable environment or method for the exact same thing to continue.  The thing, issue, substance, environment still remains the same, perhaps there’s been a superficial change.

So, what do we do?  We can’t “let it go,” we have to transmute it. What does that look like and how do we get there and why would we want that?

Trauma Changes Us

Trauma changes you on all levels – physiologically, emotionally, physically, mentally, energetically, and spiritually.  You are not the same person and nor will you ever be again.  Your DNA changes in response to the shock and stress.  Your identity shifts.  You now wear different masks or armors out of protection.  You view the world differently.  You have a new definition of self.  You have a bunch of feelings and emotions that are new and different and that you may feel ill-equipped to handle…  Basically, it just got real.

Many of us bypass this because it’s uncomfortable and because we aren’t shown how to be with ourselves in this capacity, not to mention the fact that it’s socially unacceptable to display grief or other strong emotions.

The things that have happened to you, are yours now.  They’re forever part of you and you’re never going to be the same again… So, why would you just “let it go?” You can no more easily “let go” of your trauma than you can your pinky or your right ear.

Change the Relationship

What we can do is change our relationship to it.  We can let go of our current paradigm, our current status quo, and current way of viewing ourselves, the world, and our “baggage.”

There’s nothing wrong with you, first and foremost.  I’ve had so many clients plead to me, “Why can’t I just ‘let this go? My life would be so much easier if I could just let it go!” And they carry this stuff around with them like some kind of Scarlett letter.  There’s a lot of shame, anxiety, guilt, fear, and internal conflict.  This state of inner turmoil takes them away from the present moment and is completely dis-empowering.

Contrary to what we may think, it’s not the actual traumatic event, the grief, or our challenges that create the dis-ease we experience. It’s the resistance to this new, “wounded” piece of us.  Anything we resist amplifies and takes on a life of its own.

I don’t care if you’re a carpenter, a lawyer, an accountant, a shaman, or an intuitive coach, your purpose, your gifts, the way you are meant to be of service in the world is through your challenges.  The pathway to true ease and true nourishment and a life that feels fun and not something to just “get through” is within and the answers are revealed to you through the transmutation process, the rearrangement of your subtle pieces.

There is no other way.

Some tactics to use as you begin this process of inner alchemy to transmute your challenges into purpose include:

  • Identifying and confronting your core wound – hint: it’s probably rooted in some flavor of Feminine Shame
  • Identify, confront, and begin to heal Feminine Shame
  • Typically, things that cause a lot of pain in later life are because of unprocessed childhood events.  Think back to a time in your life when you felt this same way or similar and work from there. Reconnecting with your inner little kid is so profound.
  • Source from the body – use expressive arts and embodiment practices to stay connected to the body and learn from its wisdom during times of big emotions.
  • Give yourself permission to get clear and radically honest with yourself about what’s not working, what you want, how you desire to feel, and any perceived obstacles.  Give yourself permission to heal and release the false identify of yourself you’ve adopted as a way of coping. Courageously look into your shadows for the liberation and joy you desire.
  • Love on your nervous system and then love on it some more.  Fear- and survival-based operating takes a tremendous toll on the physical body.  Creating safety and stability from within, creates a hospitable environment for your subtle pieces to begin rearranging.  The subtle always creates the gross.

Check out this blog for more on the nervous system and adrenal health, as well as this article I wrote in Rebelle Society on trauma.

Above all, stay open, curious, and quit trying to “let go” and instead, re-frame, rework, rebirth, rearrange the subtle pieces into a new gross experience where all of you is welcome and needed.  Transmute the present challenge and resistance into ease, purpose, and allowance.

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