In last week’s blog, “A Time for Psychological Shedding,” I introduced an exercise in which readers were invited to draw a tree and identify the fruits of life decisions you’ve made. The fruits that symbolize strength and positivity were placed in the top of the tree’s canopy, while the fruits that felt rotten were placed at the bottom. You were asked to consider which of your most rotten fruits gets dropped.
In “Letting Go of Rotten Things,” I will show you how to begin dropping the people, old beliefs, old ways of being that keep you from living fully. Let’s get started!
You’ve identified a rotten fruit, or two, or…twelve that you’d like to drop. Now’s the time to decide which gets dropped first. (Don’t worry. You can come back to this exercise for each rotten thing you want to drop, whenever you wish. Self-help is self-paced, after all).
Which rotten fruit in your life gets most of your attention? Following the tree metaphor, which is weighing most heavily on your limbs, causing you the most ache? I’ll give a few examples of the types of things that typically weigh people down.
Letting go of Rotten Relationships
Maybe you’ve been holding onto a relationship that hurt you long ago, and continues hurting you in some way. This can be an ex-partner, a former boss who demoralized you, a friend or family member…even a parent. Here’s an example of how it might look for someone whose toxic relationship is represented with the word “Her”:
For this example, I clustered some things that people experience following a break-up: beliefs like “I’m not enough” and “Why not me?”, those gut feelings like constant sadness and confusion, and some places where a person may experience these overlapping feelings and thoughts, like the shoulders and lower back.
Wherever and whatever you experience is yours to name as you wish. Use thought bubbles, hearts with cracks in them, or worms (it’s rotten fruit, after all) to represent this stuff in a way that tells your story of this relationship.
Note that if the Her or Him is still a part of your life and not someone who’s physically exited (or whom you can leave right now), you can still do this exercise. Doing so will allow you to begin separating yourself emotionally, psychologically, spiritually from the hurt this person brings.
Letting Go of Rotten Feelings
Okay, okay. Nothing we feel is truly rotten. Emotions are really our way of moving through the world. We have joy when we’re with things and people we love, we have anger when we’re with what we see as unjust.
Some feelings are extremely uncomfortable. By targeting an uncomfortable emotion, let’s say resentment, we allow ourselves to begin dropping the parts of our lives which hold resentment in place.
You’ll see with this example that I clustered some of the typical beliefs that sit with resentment, which tends to be a lingering emotion that can last years, decades, or the majority of a lifetime: “I didn’t deserve this,” “Why me, still?”, etc. Feelings like anger, sadness, even rage that come complete with exclamation points and underlines are friends of resentment. Again, the words and gut feelings that go with resentment are up to you, as are any places in the body it resides (stomach, hands that clench, wherever).
Letting Go of Rotten Beliefs
I’ll give one more example that reflects a common belief: “I’m an Imposter.”
Again, you see the clustering of beliefs surrounding what’s called imposter syndrome or imposter phenomenon: not being good enough, smart enough, deserving enough of a job, a relationship, an earned opportunity at school. There’s often a big dose of confusion and perhaps fear, thoughts such as “Do they know?” and “Someone will find out.” Wherever you carry tension from looking over your shoulder may be the place where you feel this most.
Dropping the Fruit
Whether the rotten fruit you’ve selected to drop is a relationship that’s gone bad, an old and painful emotion that’s hung on your branch too long, or a belief that blocks light and keeps healthier parts of you from growing, you are the decision-maker of what gets dropped. You can really do this with whatever area of your life needs change.
Spend a moment now, considering what life will be without this rotten fruit hanging onto you. Maybe flip your piece of paper and jot words that describe this space you’ll soon occupy: peaceful, certain, free…whatever comes to mind.
With these thoughts in mind, allow a gentle breeze to blow into the orchard, enveloping your tree. Actually, close your eyes and do this one. Imagery helps. Feel your limbs start to sway and feel their freedom.
And drop that nasty, rotten fruit.
Now take a deep sigh of relief and feel the freedom you’ve created in your spirit. Spend a few minutes here, if you have them.
We won’t leave that rotten piece of fruit on the ground by your roots, either. When we let go of things that are harming us, it’s important that they be allowed to leave our presence, entirely. In next week’s blog, “Clearing Hurt Away from Our Roots,” I’ll show you how to clear away rotten fruits and other debris from around your roots.