Recently, I started re-watching some of my favorite shows. I enjoy new shows too but re-watching an “old favorite” is like having a visit with a long-time best friend. As I started re-watching some of my favorites, I realized that the shows mean different things to me now that I am older and have continued to gather life experiences. The jokes land differently, the characters become more (and less) unlikeable, and I catch subtle comments or themes that were not relevant to me the first time I watched the shows. The shows haven’t changed – I have, and for the better, I hope.
In a recently re-watched episode of “Better Things”, the main character (a heroine of mine) visits her doctor for neck pain and insomnia. When the doctor mentions the impact of stress on her conditions she lists off all of the things in her life that are causing her stress. The doctor’s response was, “You gotta let that s#!* go!” and then proceeded to explain how the stress will slowly kill her. As a person who is past her mid-life (if you use average life expectancy data as the measure), I finally found a compelling reason to start letting some things/people/habits go. Living longer is definitely on my bucket list.
Letting go of things, people and habits is extremely hard – I get it. Letting go means having to face your own reality and be ready to change your own “truth”. Letting go means having to face uncomfortable and painful experiences and choices. Letting go sometimes means having to face the possibility some of the people in your life are simply not good for you. This can lead to feelings of abandonment and grief. This possible side effect alone sometimes feels like good enough reason to hang onto toxic relationships, items that create clutter, or destructive habits. For me, having to finally face and sit with uncomfortable feelings if I were to let some things go was definitely a reason to keep some destructive things/people/habits around. But now – the idea that I could actually live longer if I release unnecessary things or hurtful people from my life – now that is a compelling reason I can embrace!
The adverse effects of stress on the human body are well-documented so I won’t list them here. 5 minutes on an internet search on this topic will tell you more than you would like to know. If you do want to read a good book on how stress and repressed emotion cause numerous serious physiological problems, I recommend: “When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection” By, Gabor Mate, M.D.
I am using available mental time to reflect on my own situation. What needs to go? What is enhancing my life and what is holding me back? What is it for you?
- A family heirloom that you don’t like but you keep because a relative gave it to you?
- Boxes of “stuff” in the garage that no longer hold a place in your heart?
- People, even family members, who don’t appreciate you or mostly only communicate with passive-aggressive, controlling, or hurtful comments?
- Items on your “bucket list” that no longer feel relevant or meaningful?
- Coping strategies that were useful at one time but now seem like they are betraying you?
- Habits that keep us from living our best lives?
Meaningful change is a journey and is best accomplished in small steps. Try to let go of just one thing. See how it goes.
Be well, my friends,