Leaves have been quite a theme here in the last few weeks. My husband had his 50th birthday at the end of October and I created a memory tree by getting people to contribute great memories to transfer onto a paper leaf. There were so many that I got blisters from cutting them out, but it was worth it to see his face as he read, remembered and appreciate the good, joyful and sometimes hilarious shared memories.
Colourful autumn leaves are falling outside my window as I write and I always find that a little melancholy, but autumn leaves can’t remain forever. They must let go in the wind and rain we are having today in order to welcome, support and fertilize new growth. They have to decompose in order to enrich the soil, retain moisture and protect the tree’s delicate root system as it grows and builds a new ring for the new year.
I’m going to help you take the first steps to let go of your old beliefs, worries and habits at the end of this year to prepare you for new passion, purpose and energy in the future.
It’s so easy and understandable to want to cling onto those old leaves; the old habits, beliefs, justifications, grudges and ‘should’ values that we know so well and I know how hard and scary it can be to even consider. That’s why I have a simple exercise for you to try this week.
What do your ‘bad weather’ thoughts whisper in your ear? What do you believe about yourself, life, other people and situations when the sun isn’t shining for you? Which past ‘should haves’ are still draining your energy? What are you worrying about? What slows you down? What riles you up? What gets in your way of being the best version of yourself? What is the narrative that traps you in the same old story?
Make yourself some leaves.
Write a thing you want to let go off on each leaf and how it makes you feel (angry, hurt, guilty etc.)
Turn the leaf over and write what you benefit by holding on (there is always a benefit or you wouldn’t be holding onto it, but sometimes you need to dig a little) and how willing you are on a scale of 1-10 to let this go. You don’t have to know how you just have to be willing.
Letting go usually involves some form of forgiveness or acceptance. What or who needs forgiving in this case? Make a note for yourself wherever it feels right.
Which leaf would you like to let go of first?
When you imagine letting go, what happens? Just notice without judgement.
Which leaf would you find hardest to let go of? This is probably the one you need to let go of most.
Look at the leaves in front of you. Even if you don’t want to do anything about these right now, you have taken a big step forward by becoming more aware of them.
Imagine for a second what it would feel like to let all the leaves go? Notice your reaction and feelings. Trees stand bare for a long time before their new blossom grows. They need time to recover and so do you. Be kind to yourself and give yourself time to learn, heal and recover too. Remember that, “Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement.”
You can’t change the past, but you can learn from it, change your focus and your narrative going forwards. Letting go doesn’t mean we condone a situation or behaviour, it’s about lightening our load and reclaiming that energy to create future blossom and new leaves.
It is only possible to let past leaves go if we have a positive vision, purpose and passion for the future. What positive and good things are on your horizon? What achievements and successes have you had that you can build on? If you had the chance to begin as a new blossom, what would you wish for yourself? Who would you choose to be? How would you write your new script and narrative?
Draw some blossoms and write a sentence on each beginning ‘I want…’ Keep it positive, i.e. change ‘I want to stop…’ into ‘I want to start / do / have / be…’
Turn the blossom over and write down all the things that achieving this will bring you. What will be the benefits of having this? What will be different about your life? Environment? Week? Day? Behaviour? Actions? Words? Feelings? Relationships?
How you will know when you have achieved your goal? What can you do to move forward one step, however big or small, to move towards that and what would it take for you to make progress?
What or who can support you with this step and future ones? How will you keep accountable and stay future focused? How will you notice if you are holding an old leaf or growing a new blossom? What could get in your way and what can you do to support yourself? Don’t forget how difficult it can be to see our own negative beliefs and blind spots. This is perfectly normal for us all – remember that even (or especially) coaches need a coach to challenge these old habits and beliefs!
The trees are letting go of the old in order to let the new come. I love them for that lesson so I’m going to join them, let my autumn leaves fall, focus on my passion and purpose blossoms and observe what happens between now and spring.
Who’s with me?