Autumn is a time to release things that no longer serve our lives.
“Some of us think holding on makes us strong,” wrote the poet and novelist Hermann Hesse, “but sometimes it is letting go.”
At this time of year, I think a lot about letting go, never more than when I watch brilliant yellow, red and orange leaves release their hold on tree branches and float to the ground. It’s a wistful sight, a signal that the lush greenery of spring and summer has run its course. But it’s also a reassuring reminder that letting go at just the right moment is a healthy, freeing action.
Trees that rest, leafless, through the winter are ready to sprout new growth in the spring. Turning that idea inward, what in your life can you let go of to prepare for a positive future?
Your answer might range from something really practical to something profound and emotional. Here are three categories of things most people can benefit from evaluating, asking if they are still serving your life or if you can let them go like an autumn leaf.
1) Let Go of Stuff
Though the impulse might tend toward hibernating and nesting at this time of year, autumn is a great time to clear out summer clothes that did not bring you joy, fun and comfort this past season. As you pull old sweaters and jeans out of storage, ask yourself which can be passed along to a clothing drive or textile recycler. Same goes for books, kitchen gadgets, anything that you might be ready to release, in anticipation of the room you will have for more positive, useful possessions.
2) Let Go of Caring What Others Think
When you feel judged by others, it’s easy to slip into a place where you question yourself at every turn. But as the inspiring writer Brene Brown puts it, “What’s the greater risk? Letting go of what people think, or letting go of how I feel, what I believe and who I am?” Releasing the opinions of others—especially those who really aren’t entitled to an opinion about your life—will leave you feeling more confident and grounded in your core values, decisions and attitude.
3) Let Go of Unrealistic Goals
I’ve written before about doing a “resolution re-set” a few weeks into the new year. Looking back at priorities and intentions you set for yourself can reveal that they aren’t helpful, practical or accessible to you at this moment in your life. Being flexible to adjust course, say shifting from a daily workout to a three-times-a-week routine, gives you permission to release expectations you set for yourself that, it turns out, were unrealistic. Doing this isn’t giving up on self-improvement or personal growth—it’s pursuing those things in ways that set you up for success.
What would you like to let go of in your life?