Holding onto Ghosts

Many of us have held onto feelings and memories about the past: old loves, friendships, and even jobs. I started thinking about this through my own experience of holding on instead of letting go. 

Through life’s many experiences and journeys, we go can through a perpetual process of holding on and letting go, kind of like how the tides ebb and flow. 

When a relationship comes to an end, or is coming to a change, we might hold on to the past. As we face a significant loss, we hold on to our own version of the story, and perhaps also the parts of us we aren’t ready to release. I think we do hold onto our narratives and constructs to take the edge of the pain, until  we are ready to truly accept the loss or the death of the relationship. 

Once we are ready to accept a loss or change, we can see that we are better off for letting go.

When you embrace and grieve your loss, you let the ghost go. No one can take your memories, be they good or bad. You can recall your cherished memories when you want to or need to and make them go away when you want to. When you grieve and accept a loss, you start to slowly get you power back. You start to breathe fully again. 

In last week’s blog about small steps, I talked about creating small steps to lead you to a bigger change. You can apply the same principal of taking small steps forward to let go of your ghosts. Heartbreak is more painful when we think we have to be suddenly better. Have you ever said to yourself you should just pick up and move on? Letting go of a ghost and a healing from heartbreak takes time. When we approach our healing with self-care and self-love, each small step leads us closer to acceptance and the ability to let go. We do this when we are ready to grieve the loss of the ghost, and when we are willing to find forgiveness. We literally have to remember how to breathe fully again to ready ourselves. All while acknowledging that we will take small steps forward.

What is it we are holding on to?  Is it the person that used to make us smile, with whom we felt safe and who we trusted completely. Are we holding onto times when the relationship was good, and we keep thinking we can get the good times back? 

Or, are we holding on to a part of ourselves? We find that we don’t want to lose that part of ourselves that was in the relationship when it was good, or to accept how that part of us feels when we sever a connection. We want to blame the ghost, but we have to recognize that we, ourselves, are present in the relationship too. We have to be willing to let go of who we were in that relationship, and accept who we are in the here and now. 

Lastly, we get caught up in holding on to the ghost because we are afraid to embrace the unknown — the uncertainty of change and the open road ahead of us. Small steps are just as important when embracing the unknown as when we move towards forgiveness and acceptance. These small steps we take help us see our new open road, or blank slate, as an opportunity, rather than something to be feared.

When we can finally let go of the ghost, good things come into our lives. 

It might take time. And just when we think we have hit a roadblock, good things start to happen. We finally start to let go of the past and embrace the here and now. In the here and now there is hope. When we let go of the ghost we can hold onto hope and be excited of what the future has to offer. 

So, let’s go back to the beginning for a moment…
When we first start to let go of the ghost, we go through the classic roller coaster of emotions. On the down dip, we have the pain of heartbreak, the loneliness, at times, and the uncertainty. We also have the upward feelings of relief, and finding our joy again…seeing the present clearly instead of foggy.  Breathing becomes less and less painful and we start to feel better, one day at a time. We start to try new things, spending time with those people in our lives who support and love us. 

Sometimes we want to hold on to the pain because it connects us to our ghost.

And that is why we have to grieve. When we hold on to the ghost we don’t allow for things to get better. We have to feel the pain, to let go of it, we have to have the ugly cry, to feel the anxiety. It’s crucial that we remember that those hard feelings are all temporary. When we do let go we start to feel better. It’s a process. That’s why small steps are so important. The roller coaster of emotions we feel does start to slow down and we can breath again. We also have to realize that letting go of the ghost isn’t a bad thing. 

Once we let go, we can honor the past for what it was and the life lessons our old relationship gave us. 

The ghost that you want to let go of taught you a lot good lessons or gave you gifts. Once you let go you can start to embrace, accept and learn from the gifts the ghost taught you. 
12 steps to letting go of the ghost:

  1. Practice deep breathing every morning, at lunch and at night
  2. Start visualizing the things in life that bring you joy
  3. Fake smile three times a day – I promise this helps!
  4. Start writing down small goals that you want to accomplish for the day, just one or two
  5. Find three things that you are grateful for everyday and write them down.
  6. Exercise or light activity
  7. Time with people who love you and support you
  8. Allow yourself to cry
  9. Pick yourself up with one positive self-statement about yourself
  10. Read a book
  11. Listen to your favorite song
  12. Lots and lots of self-love!!!!!!!

Remember too, that you are an amazing person and you are brave. Letting go of the ghost in your life is a scary thing but believe in yourself and know that I believe in you too. Letting go of the ghost helps you embrace joy in your life. It starts with one step forward.