End of the year celebrations usually includes traditions.

There are ancient traditions – Santa still comes down the chimney! Letting go of the old – no to having green bean casserole again. A time for new ones – replace the green bean casserole with a fruit salad.

Traditions trigger emotional memories. Sometimes those memories are welcomed. Other times, they come bubbling up, looking for a reason to exist, and feel uncomfortable. When this happens, it may mean those memories have served their purpose.

When I was nine, my sister made a chocolate cream pie. Even as a child, I adored anything chocolate. I didn’t have a large slice, but for me, it was too rich. I soon had regrets! For decades, I avoided chocolate cream pie, fearing each held a particular vendetta. Then one year, I realized that memory needed to be let loose. The pie meant no harm but the memory inhibited my enjoyment of any future chocolate pies. I had to separate my emotional connection to the experience of eating the chocolate pie of my childhood from my experience with all chocolate pies.

Photo by Dex Ezekiel on Unsplash

What if we separated our emotions from our memories to decide what we no longer need?

What would remain?

  • I adopt an aerial view of the memory.
  • I consider how does it make me feel?
  • What was happening at the time?
  • Do I think the same way?
  • Has it lost its relevance and I’ll feel better letting it go?
  • Will I be left feeling broken?

Autumn’s falling leaves are a useful metaphor for letting go of emotional connections to memories we want to release.

Trees don’t think of themselves as broken when their leaves fall. This process is part of the life cycle and an opportunity for renewed vitality. Some leaves fall unceremoniously. As though they are uncertain of letting go, others fight to stay. Both ways are as they should be. Just like it is for us as humans when letting go of these emotions. Some drop off willing. Others put up a fight.

We should hang on to what we need, and when the time is right, let go of those things we no longer find useful. Have a celebration. Write the memory and purposefully throw it away or burn it in the fireplace. Take photos of items that you wish to let go of and share with someone else, but still have an attachment.

Letting go is part of our own personal journey. No one else should try to write our story. No one else knows our story. While others may tell us to let go of certain somethings, only we should decide whether it stays or goes.

Like the falling leaves, make way for the new.