Post by: JULIE CLINE, Certified Martha Beck Life Coach
Recently, I was chatting with my Dad and we engaged in a very deep conversation about the “here and now” and his comfort level with where he is, both physically and mentally. Nearly 3 months ago, he went through alcohol detox and he was transported from Florida to Ohio with the clothes on his back (out of fear for his safety and well being). He is currently in an assisted living facility and recovering day by day.
We discussed the progress he has made over the past month and how much of the month before that was a blur to him (when he was in the hospital and in step-down rehab). He remembered bits and pieces of the airport transport back to Ohio and that was it. If I could be thankful about anything, it would be that the ‘darker’ parts of the journey we walked were completely beyond his recollection.
Though I am eternally grateful that he is now safe and getting healthy, there have been many questions that have come up again and again:
- Did I do the right thing for his well-being?
Is he in the right environment?
Should I have handled anything differently?
Is he truly happy?
I could question myself a million times over, but in all honesty, I’ve asked these questions of my father and the answer has always been completely aligned with my intuition and with my heart: Yes, things have played out exactly as they were supposed to. I followed my heart and the heart responded exactly as it was supposed to.
Lately, I’ve been wrestling with guilt over leaving so many belongings behind in Florida, so I asked a different question, “Dad, how do you feel about everything that is still in Florida? Do you have an attachment to those things?” Without hesitation, he said, “There is a little bit of sadness, but I don’t know specifically what is there and it doesn’t matter anyway. Those things are no longer a part of my life.”
How simple is that?
This is a man that had been to hell and back in the 60 days and he makes it sound so very simple. If only we could all respond that way.
What made his response possible? In my opinion, it is because he followed one of the most important mantras in practicing loving-kindness toward ourselves:
Release what no longer serves you.
For my father, it was likely alcohol, tobacco, painful life events and toxic energy (to name just a few). Miraculously, he was able to carry that weight for a very long time, but in the end, those heavy weights caused a sequence of events that prompted us to reevaluate his life as we knew it. That was a painful time, but those events also allowed him to escape in a way we never expected and in the process, he simply released because he knew his heart wouldn’t lie. His heart led him to release what no longer served him.
What is it for you?
- Controlling the outcome.
- A toxic relationship.
- A job that you hate.
- Fear of speaking up.
- Guilt for a bad decision.
- Shame from hurting another.
One or more of these circumstances exist in us all, yet most of us allow the thoughts we have about these circumstances to penetrate the very core of who we are, allow the thoughts to damage our essential selves and then, we allow ourselves to remain as prisoners unable to break free.
Today, I invite you to rethink your strategy.
Whatever your circumstance, person, event or emotion, think about how it feels in your heart (or in any other part of your body that provides sensation when you think about it:
Does it feel heavy, “shackles on”, restrictive? OR
Does it feel light, airy or “shackles off”?
If you answered with the first series of descriptions, that is the step one in acknowledging your circumstance, person, event or emotion as something that no longer serves you. In order to set yourself free, you must eventually learn to release it.
Freedom is bliss and it starts with your heart.