Look at all the things we hold on to from the past. On a material level: an old passport, trophies from school, shoes we once liked but will never wear again, your grandmother’s coffee table that has always wobbled. On a habitual level: taking a daily walk, getting up at 6am every day come rain or shine, reading the newspaper over breakfast, having Sunday morning in bed, always cooking the turkey at Christmas the same way. And the beliefs too: married couples arguing over the right way to stack the dishwasher, or backseat drivers doing what they do best, or that hard work is the only way to be successful.
Holding on can occur in many ways – sentimental attachment to objects or memories, daily routines, beliefs and prejudices, phobias and addictions are all varieties of holding on. They function to build and maintain the view we have of ourselves, and in the end create a tightly held and cherished ego.
The things held onto represent how we were at the time. However, they may have little to do with how we are now, and can limit our ability to vary from habitual patterns and conditioning as thrown up by our ego.
The cost of clinging on to our ego restricts our ability to deal with what is happening right now, as we automatically and unconsciously kick into our habitual ways of dealing with perceived situations. Attachments are the biggest source of stress for people, and can make change an exhausting experience. We suffer as a result of our ego’s trying to create certainty and predictability, so during a change process, where the only certainty is uncertainty, many people suffer the most.
As we grow older, we find ourselves attached to more and more – money, status, eternal youth, security – and like baggage these things weigh us down.
To loosen the tight grip of ego, practice letting go of little things one at a time. Learn to relax your tendency to control everything in your environment. Practice becoming aware of when you are holding on to something. Where are you holding on to old behaviours or moods which do not ultimately benefit you? Which of the opinions or attitudes that you frequently display no longer serve you? Where are you being narrow minded or dogmatic? Under what circumstances do you feel most stressed? What are you attached to right now – how should it be?
Change is only difficult because of what you are currently attached to. Practice being aware, then letting go, little by little. If you want to experience different things in your life, see what you are attached to, and start letting go.
I’m in the process of moving house at the moment, and am going through a process of letting go of 18 years worth of accumulation – that’s why I am mindful of the message above. It is a great feeling when there is less stuff to manage!