The new year offers the hope of fresh possibilities. Whether picking words to guide us, goals to advance us, or plans to transform us, we welcome the opportunity for a fresh start and new beginning. It’s therapeutic turning the page on the previous 365 days. Clean slates are synonymous with re-dos. Who hasn’t desperately longed for a do-over this year?
Some years, filled with sorrow and challenge, can’t end soon enough. Others, filled with firsts, lasts, and bests, are welcomed to linger a little longer. Some are easy to forget, while others comfort the heart. A lot happens in a year.
While it’s instinctive to hold on to good and bad moments, one occupies more real estate in my heart and mind. I wish I could tell you the good outweighed the bad, but I need to stick to my goal of living authentically, so I won’t. The hard, sad, and hurtful memories are [unfortunately] easier to recall. My muscle memory has always been on point with less desirable memories.
Why? Why is it easier to dwell on difficult experiences? The answer may be buried under a misunderstanding of what it means to release the “painful awful” memories. Releasing, or letting go, isn’t equal to excusing. It doesn’t invalidate the hurt and disappointment. Somewhere, deep within, lives a fear of being exposed to more of the same if one forgets, but releasing is kindness extended toward ourselves. It frees us from the prison of painful memories.
What good comes from holding on to heartbreak and disappointment?
I’m still discovering the power of release. It’s nearly impossible to grab on to the lovely while clutching the horrible. When our hands won’t let go of the gross, they can’t grab hold of the good. Renewed hope is made possible by releasing the discouragement. Otherwise, discouragement and fear of the same become the filter through which we view everything else.
I know because I have a long history of allowing disappointment to guide me. I have lived guarded more than I’ve lived unguarded. Forgive me for sounding trite, but one leads to isolation, while the other leads to abundance. While the new year looms in the shadows of today, I’m already working on releasing painful experiences. I long to start 2019 with an open heart and open hands. While all that comes won’t be lovely, I must free up emotional real estate to experience anything the next 365 days offers. It’s impossible to live in the past and lay hold of the future.
Anyone else tired of holding on to the less desirable? Are you ready to release the anger and lay hold of healing? Are you ready to take hold of what the new year affords? Before you ring in the New Year, empty your hands of 2018 and make space for what awaits.