What does that mean, exactly?
This is one of those phrases that you’ll hear repeatedly if you’re dipping toes into meditation, mindfulness and general ‘new age’ energy work.
But for the everyday, real person, what does it mean to ‘Release What No Longer Serves You’?
A person wearing a scarf and a backpack looks out over a mountain vista.
Let’s take a look at it this way. You’ve gone on a hike (well done, you!) and you have one backpack. This hike is going to take a day, and it’s pretty hot outside. You have your hiking shoes, you have a hat, and you have one backpack. Now, obviously, you have to plan what goes into that backpack. So let’s think logically about that. You’re going to need water. You’re going to need some food (snacks, lunch). You might need a hoodie in case it gets cold. Maybe you have to take medication at lunch time, so you’d better pack that, too. You’ve got your phone, you have a little first aid kit.
You know what you don’t need on your hike?
A f*cking brick. Or a bag of stones. Or something else really heavy and pointless, like a textbook on TORTS law. Those things are not going to serve you any purpose on this hike. They’re going to weigh you down, hurt your back, and make your hike way, way harder than it needs to be. They’re going to turn your nice day hiking into a long, painful, hot, sweaty, brutal ordeal.
A stack of red books.
So, let’s switch that analogy back to Real Life. Life is the hike. The backpack is your emotional and mental sh*t capacity. And the emotional and mental sh*t that makes your backpack heavy is the Sh*t That No Longer Serves You.
Say you have some unresolved guilt/resentment/anger from your past. Don’t we all? That thing you did 10 years ago that you still really wish you hadn’t done, but you did, and you can’t stop thinking about it, especially at night time when you should be sleeping peacefully. Here’s the thing: that unresolved thing is a DECADE in the past. What good does it bring to your life to lay awake at night, thinking about it? Does it make you stronger? Better? Smarter? Happier? F*ck no, it does not. It makes you anxious, stressed, guilty, sad, depressed, and unable to move forward with your actual, good life. That thing? It’s a brick. It is a bag of rocks that no longer serves you.
A person wearing a backpack with hiking sticks is silhouetted by the sun.
If you’re on the hike, you’re going to take a few steps and be like, “You know what? I don’t need this brick in my backpack. It’s f*cking heavy and it’s hurting my back.” And then, you’re going to stop, open up your backpack and throw it the hell away.
That unresolved thing is what you need to throw away.
But how do I release what no longer serves me?
A street sign reads “Time to say goodbye”.
Okay, I get it. It’s harder to let go of sh*t from the past than to throw a brick out of your backpack. And it’s important to say that some stuff, like traumas, are probably going to need some help to let go of. That means therapy, tapping, reiki, medication, medical intervention, all sorts. Whatever you need – there is no shame in seeking and getting help. In fact, it’s one of the smartest things you can do, you boss witch.
But when we are settling into a meditation, and the calm voice guiding us says, “Release what no longer serves you”, do you know what they mean? They mean that that is not the sh*t you need to be carrying right now in your backpack. Right now, you want to be relaxing, meditating and getting your good life going and the good juices flowing.
As I’ve mentioned, I suffer from pretty bad anxiety, and have done for a long time.
I’m not a doctor. If you need medical help, GO TO A DOCTOR. It’s a great, wonderful and sensible, responsible thing to do.
If you just need a few strategies to help you start the baby steps to releasing what no longer serves you, then here you go. Try my 5 best Positive Thoughts for Releasing What No Longer Serves You.
A person with blonde hair takes a nap on a sofa.
Is there anything I can do about this right this very second? This one’s important. When you’re in bed and it’s late and it’s dark and you can’t stop stressing about that thing that Eric said to you at work, or the fact that Brenda asked you to be a bridesmaid and you actually hate Brenda, is the nighttime while you are in bed trying to get your beauty sleep the right time to solve this problem? NO. No, it is not. Take a deep breath. Write it down if you need to, then let that sh*t go for the night. You can deal with Eric and Brenda tomorrow.
Two elderly people hold hands.
Would I judge someone else for this as harshly as I am judging myself? The answer is probably NO. If you keep replaying something you did when you were a dumb teenager or in your early twenties, which, let’s face it, is basically an extension of the teenaged years, then I want you to ask yourself: if my best friend told me they were losing sleep over doing this exact thing, what would I tell them? The answer is probably that you would tell them that it was a long time ago, we all do stupid sh*t, but we have to move on, and that you love them. So say it to yourself: “That was a long time ago. I was a different person. It was stupid. But it’s over now. I have to move on. I love myself too much to let this brick take up space in my backpack.”
What good am I doing to myself by holding onto this sh*t? I’m guessing – NOTHING. You are giving yourself stress, anxiety, sleep depravation, probably bad skin and a dodgy belly. Now ask yourself, What good COULD I do for myself by letting this sh*t go? Write a list. Think about it.
I have done a lot of good things in my life. I want you to literally lay there, or sit there, or stand there on the tram, and list in your head, or on paper, 20 good things you have done in your life. That could be having your kids, or passing your Master’s degree, or helping an old lady with the groceries, or taking a yoga class, or studying really hard, or helping a neighbour with their kids. Literally anything you have done that did good to yourself, or good for someone else, or something you are proud of. Every time the bad thoughts start to try to sneak their way in, I want you to come back to that list.
Two people in cold-weather clothes drink hot beverages outdoors with a pug.
Where do I want to go, and who do I want to be? This one is the Biggie. I want you to think about what you want for yourself in life. I want you to imagine your best life, what it looks like, how it feels, how it smells and how fabulous your hair is. Really picture it. Is that horrible thing that you are holding onto going to help you get that fabulous f*cking hair? Let it go. It no longer serves you.
I know, I know. Easier said than done. And I’m definitely not saying that if you try these 5 things you’re going to be cured of the Sh*t That No Longer Serves You. It’s going to take some work, and it’s going to take some time.
But trust me – if you can take these small steps towards letting go of the sh*t that is holding you back, making you sad, making you anxious and keeping you in a state of stuck-in-the-mud, you will start that road to recovery.
For some meditations for Releasing What No Longer Serves You, try these:
PLUS! Get yourself the FREE Insight Timer App (this is not an ad, I just love this app so much) which has literally thousands of guided meditations straight into your ears for anything you could think of.
If you need some help with your mental health or trauma, here are some great services you can access (and you should!):
In the UK, try Mind.uk for a list of specified services you can reach out to.
In Australia, try the government’s Health Direct listings.
You can do this. I believe in you.
A person’s legs and feet in hiking boots, standing on top of some rocks.
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