Last week in the Powerhouse Program, I led the team through an exercise that remains one of the most transformational tools I have in my toolbox as a coach and CEO.
The exercise (and experience) is called Completion.
You know those people, events, and circumstances that no matter how much time passes seem to continue carrying weight and energy in us?
It can be something as small as a snarky comment that got under your skin… to critical feedback on a performance… to a missed goal that left you disappointed and discouraged…
To something as huge as your doubts in your ability to succeed in this career path… to your resentment and pain from past broken relationships… to grief from death, divorce, or even loss of an identity.
I have facilitated ‘completion’ with clients for that little shit that shouldn’t get us down (and yet keeps occupying brain space rent-free)… to some of life’s biggest battles and traumas.
No matter what, the experience is universal.
The weight is finally lifted. The dark cloud seems to drift. We feel deep, freeing relief.
Until we don’t.
Because that’s the nature of anything like “letting go” and forgiveness. It’s never a one-and-done act. Letting go is actually harder than holding on, on some level.
In fact, it’s my belief that this is a universal and profound part of the human experience— we unconsciously, effortlessly pick things up and hold onto things that do not serve us, and then with seemingly great conscious effort we must practice putting it down again.
And I say practice intentionally, because letting things go takes an enormous amount of practice.
Keep reading if you’re curious about HOW to practice letting things go with a few new strategies and perspectives.
1. Not my circus, not my monkeys
If you’ve never read The Four Agreements, I highly recommend you do – it is a breezy one-day read that may just plant seeds that bear fruit for you for the rest of your life.
But, if you want the Sparknotes version, the book proposes these principles of living with alignment:
- Be impeccable with your word.
- Don’t take anything personally.
- Don’t make assumptions.
- Always do your best.
#2 is particularly important in my life and line of work, and is deeply fundamental to our work in letting things go.
When we take things personally – that is, we take on what someone else sees, says, or believes as true about ourselves or life – we betray our own inner boundary that keeps us safe.
If someone else says or does something to you (nonviolently) that causes you to lose your sense of inner safety, confidence, or well-being, that means that you have learned to wager your power and sovereignty in relationships… which comes with a costly price.
The key to letting things go is that you realize, at your core, that the journeys other people walk bear no more meaning or consequence to your journey than you choose to ascribe to it.
And, of course, there is NO perfection or destination to attain this. I’ve been hurt and held grudges; I’ve experienced trauma that gets retriggered; I’ve given my power to people and forces outside of me that left me questioning who I really am.
I have LIVED in a world where everything meant something about me. Where I interpreted every word or action of those around me as a direct reflection of something I said or should have said, did or should have done, been or should have been. The stories I made up about people and who they were and what they thought of me and who I should be in order to be “enough” to them or for them…. EXHAUSTED me.
I lived that way well into my twenties before I learned the difference between personal responsibility and enmeshment.
Regardless, the place I MUST return to over and over and over again when I take something deeply to heart, is that whatever this is… is not about me.
We can own our part and choose what lesson we take away, sure. We can even choose to take action that causes change around us by transmuting our pain.
But at the end of the day, when someone or something hurts us, the source of it is and will always be something external to our natures, our hearts, our divine sovereignty, and our worth.
We ourselves decide who and what hurts us.
2. Get PHYSICAL
Here’s a quickie, but a goodie.
For those things in between a mental reframe (above in #1) and an energetic purge (below in #3), here is what I practice:
Physicalize the thing you have picked up.
Pick up something — a pen, a plate, a book, a weight… it doesn’t matter.
Name this thing you’re holding as the thing you know you’re carry around — the anger about that thing, the old story from your past, the ruminating thoughts about what they said…
And then physically put it down.
When you physically put the thing down, allow yourself to put it down mentally as well.
And the next time you find you’ve mentally picked it back up again, repeat this process.
Physicalizing internal stuff is a super simple and effective way to practice letting shit go!
2. Close the loop
For the relationships, experiences, and even old traumas that continue to reside in our bodies, minds, and hearts and cannot be released with a simple reframe… this is the exercise I provide my clients.
It’s important to remember that forgiveness and letting things go are all actually about a CHOICE.
In the section above, we must make a choice to un-enmesh ourselves from the interpretations, judgments, or made up stories that we or others have mapped onto us.
Similarly, we must choose to be WILLING to forgive or release something that carries a great deal of energy or weight to us… which isn’t always easy.
The thing to remember is that holding on to things that weigh us down is ultimately an act of self-punishment.
We use these old wounds as ways “not to forget” and avoid that pain again. We use our anger to fuel new action or boundaries.
But what if you could find ways to avoid self-betrayal, fuel your passion, and honor your sovereignty without also holding onto the pain?
That is what ‘completion’ offers.
I invite you to take this exercise on for yourself right now, as you read this. Choose a circumstance, relationship, or event that carries energy for you… and give yourself the gift of letting it go today.
(You’ll probably need to come back and do it again, yes. And maybe it would even be better if you did this with a loved one so you could verbally process it. Trust your intuition on what you need.)
© Ellen Broen Coaching LLC 2022
1. Are you willing to choose compassion, forgiveness, and completion around this?
Yes or no.
2. What are you present to in your body, heart, and mind?
Write down what you notice going on in your core, in your shoulders, in your face — write
down the areas of tension or stress you feel. Also check in with your heart — how are you feeling? What emotions are just beneath the surface for you today? And finally, what’s on your mind? What thoughts are floating through right now?
3. What complaints are in your space? What should or shouldn’t be so?
Look within you — complaints or “shoulds” you have about yourself, about your circumstances, about others, about the state of the world.
4. What have you created, accomplished, and/or realized?
I invite you to be generous with yourself — look for powerful decisions you’ve made, actions you’ve taken (big and small), connections you’ve fostered, care you’ve taken of yourself and others, creativity you’ve expressed… and all that you have generated.
5. What takes you out of that space of creation, action, and mindfulness?
I invite you to zoom out a bit when considering this question, and look for the patterns. Are there thoughts or actions that tend to shift your energy? And while looking, remember to reserve all judgment — this is an opportunity to just notice and explore and see what’s there.
6. What is finished and over for you?
Share what’s there for you. What is finished now? What doors are closed?
7. What seems unclear, unknown, or unfinished right now?
I invite you to go past the temptation to say “Everything.” What specifically in your life, in your world feels open-ended, in doubt, and/or unsettled? Make a list.
8. Now visit your list from #7, and go item by item. What action or declaration will you make about each of these?
For this part of the exercise, I invite you to notice the things on your list that you can control, and the things on your list you don’t have control over. For the things that you are holding in your space that you have a say in, what action is there for you to take? Are you willing to choose to forgive yourself for it? Whatever you see, write down what you will do or choose. And for the things you cannot control, what do you need? What declaration would have you remember that you are safe, loved, and whole right now? What support or action would remind you of that? Write it all down.
9. What are you taking with you from this exercise so far?
What has surprised you or become more clear since the start of this exercise? What do you notice?
10. What are you leaving behind from doing this exercise?
What are you releasing yourself of and leaving in this space so that you walk away filled with love, space to be, and compassion for yourself and others?
11. What gifts did you receive from this event, circumstance, or area of your life?
What lessons, awarenesses, or new gratitude are you walking away with from this experience?
12. What are you present to right now?
Check back in with your heart, mind, and body. What do you notice?
13. Is there anything else you need to say to be complete?
Is there anything else you wish you leave in the space or take with you from today? Is there anything you haven’t said that there is for you to say?
14. Finally, as our final act of forgiveness and choice in this exercise, please write on your page, “I forgive myself, others, and my circumstances. I embrace today with compassion and love. I am complete.”
I am Complete.
I hope that in the process of Completion, you find tools that allow you to let go of the past and move through the messages you are harmfully holding on to, in service of moving forward with light and love!
The process of Completion is not a one-and-done deal. It’s a process you can (and should) do monthly, weekly, even daily (find what works for you!) Think of getting complete like taking a shower. You can get all squeaky clean, but you will inevitably get dirty again and need another shower.
You may be tasked with scrubbing away some serious dirt as you embark on this journey. Please know you can reach out for my support any time! Book a call with me to get supported!