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On letting go

June 13, 2010

So I read this post yesterday, and I’m still in a tizzy about it. It’s about letting go of your beliefs, thoughts, memories, dreams, and being present with what is really happening at the moment.

What if I let everything go? All the shoulds and musts and you-would-be-cool-ifs. Everything I think I believe. I always try to remember to ask myself, “who would I be if no one was watching?” And this is just another way of asking myself that, I think.

I remember learning in yoga teacher training that the world we see is not really the world we are in. We look out at everything with our clear eyes, but we have layers and layers of film between us and the real world… each layer is a belief or a thought or a should. So when I look at myself in the mirror, I am not really seeing myself… I am filtering that image through old (mostly harmful) thoughts and beliefs. Women should have flat tummies. Legs should be shaved. Hair should be flawless. Muscles should be toned. Clothes should be stylish. Teeth should be straight. Women should be strong and confident. Women should be demure. And so instead of seeing myself for the beautiful person I really am, I only see all the ways I am not what I “should” be. Yoga and meditation were supposed to help clear away those layers, until we could finally see the world clearly.

I never realized how many things I could let go of. For example, what if I let go of these things:

  • The memories of not fitting in during high school
  • The desire to be successful and admired
  • The thoughts of what makes a woman beautiful
  • The knowledge of what is “nutritious” and what is “healthy”
  • The thoughts of which foods are “good” and “bad”
  • The idea that I am more attractive in heels, in a dress, with makeup
  • That meals should be eaten at certain times, and what constitutes a meal
  • That I need to leave a mark on the world, to make something of myself, to measure up to my potential
  • That I need to meditate, or exercise, or practice yoga
  • That television is bad, that reading is good, that reading blogs for hours is lazy
  • That size 4 is good, and that anything bigger means you will always hope to be a size 4
  • That I am sensitive, compassionate, friendly, sarcastic, funny, lazy, a good/bad friend or daughter or sister or wife
  • Which restaurants are my favorites, whether I like cocktails, whether I like to take photos, whether I like to talk about food
  • The places I want to visit, the things I think I should own, the experiences I think I should have

Who would I be then? If I were just plopped right here on earth, into the life that I have, with no baggage, no beliefs, no social knowledge… who would I be? What would I like? What would I do every day, and who would I do it with?

The answers to those questions are mind-boggling to me. Maybe I would think I was beautiful. Maybe I would let go of some relationships. Maybe I would go to bed each night without regretting all the things I didn’t get done. Maybe I would just eat what I wanted, when I wanted it. Maybe I would have more fun. Maybe I wouldn’t worry about how the world sees me and categorizes me. Maybe I would be happier.

My head is full. I’m ready to empty it.

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8 Discussion to this post
  1. Nicole says:

    I think I disagree a little bit. I don’t think it’s so much about letting go of our beliefs–but maybe about letting go of our beliefs about how others will view our beliefs…if that makes sense. I think that as long as you’re still open-minded to being influenced, there’s nothing wrong with sticking by your beliefs and really letting people see that this is who you are, faults and all. I think if you were to just let go of all of your beliefs, it would make situations a lot more boring. When you go to taste a new food or watch a new movie, you would just be kind of blank. Instead we should maybe just not care if people think we’re stupid for liking something (hot dogs with Wolf Brand Chili!) or doing something we find fun (watching “Dumb and Dumber”). That’s their hang-up, not yours!

    For the longest time, I have thought that I need to dress more fashionably or be less anti-social and go network with other bloggers or not admit to sometimes keeping our apartment a pigsty for weeks…but you know what? That’s what makes me happy and I guess for the most part, I could really care less. Yeah, I still get self-conscious about it…if I go to the farmers’ market and meet someone for the first time, I’m usually just thinking about how that person probably thought I was stupid and lame or dressed crappy or something or didn’t buy “the cool stuff”…but in the end, it’s much easier for me to let go of now and just be like, “Whatever. They don’t like me? That’s their choice and they’re the one missing out!”

    Bleh…there’s my long explanation…I think people like you and I worry too much sometimes! 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      It sounds like we’re thinking along the same lines. There are actually some beliefs/ideas that I am ready to let go of… things that I have adopted that are not really my own. I am ready to stop editing myself so much, and just let myself be me. And you’re right, part of that is just refusing to care what others think of me. But part of it is deciding which things really are me, and which are just ideas that have attached themselves to me, even though they don’t really serve me well. Does that make any sense? 🙂

  2. sandra calderon says:

    hi Crystal,
    I have recently re-discovered your blog and I am enjoying your thoughts and food critiques very much. I love that you are always on your own journey to be well and be happy. 🙂 stay cool, sjc

  3. Wei-Wei says:

    Man. Reading this post almost made me cry. I’m struggling with identity issues right now, and honestly… I’ve always wondered what it would be like to just let go of it all. It takes a lot of courage, though, to believe in yourself and fully let go. You might discover yourself in the process. You might be miserable. You might find out what you truly believe in. You might hurt the people around you.

    It’s all about taking the jump… I think it might be a little too dramatic to COMPLETELY let go, but… I’m thinking that would be impossible anyways. I mean, the memories will always be there, and everything anyone has ever done to you will leave a lasting imprint on you. We’re shaped by our experiences and the people around us, and maybe letting go isn’t the answer… I don’t know. As I said, I’m struggling with identity issues and can hardly provide any constructive comment.

    Best wishes to you! 🙂

    Wei-Wei

    • Crystal says:

      Aw, I didn’t mean to make you cry! I think we’re all going through some identity issues at one point or another. I just like the idea of letting go of those things that aren’t really me. But I think you’re right, you can never let go of everything (and you probably wouldn’t want to). It’s nice to give myself some space to ask… if I hadn’t heard X all my life, would I still believe X? (Especially important to me with body and food issues)

      Anyway, thank you so much for your comment. I actually think I’ve worried a few people with this post… but I really meant it in a positive way! It’s just one more tool I can use for the whole “finding myself” process. 🙂

  4. Beautiful post. There is so much transformation + evolution in a lifetime yet embracing every phase of it brand new is so difficult. The heavy of negative or the expected are hard things to shake off. Letting go is so hard. But I think recognizing that and giving yourself permission to be unsure helps that necessary reinvention when you start to grow up and continue to grow old….happily.

    • Crystal says:

      I agree… it’s hard for me to let go of negative things/ideas. And so easy to forget all the good/positive things! Yes, just allowing myself to be unsure and figure it all out is a huge step. 🙂

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