Why it feels scary to let go of what was…
Last year I said something I’ve come to regret.
This thing once felt true, but no longer does.
Like so many mis-steps, it was born of good intentions and also a little fear.
Fear of letting go, of loss, of obscurity, of not knowing.
The fear that arises when what is no longer works, but you’re not sure something better exists.
When we don’t know what’s next or what else, it’s easier to stay with what’s known even if it doesn’t feel good.
In order to connect to what’s next, you must first let go of what is.
A lot of people get stuck because they don’t have the willingness to sit in the space of emptiness, the space of not knowing.
Allowing what is to die without knowing what’s next feels scary. But it’s necessary.
I’m reading a great book right now called Mysteries of the Dark Moon that details how the goddess worship of Earth’s earliest people ultimately gave way to patriarchy, rule of the masculine.
The feminine moon goddesses guided people through sacred birth, growth, death and rebirth cycles mirroring the lunar rhythm.
Then, with much bloodshed, people went from worshipping goddesses to gods, who turned into God, an ideal of a big guy in the sky. The triple goddesses of the maiden, the mother and the wise old crone morphed into the holy trinity of the father, the son and the holy spirit.
(And the crone became a nasty old hag everyone gets Botox to avoid becoming.)
As gods-worshipping people overpowered the goddess-worshipping, everything linked to the goddess was pushed into the shadow, denied or repressed, considered wrong, bad or scary.
This includes life’s cycles, death, the idea of decay leading to renewal, and even the dark of night.
Life became linear.
As humanity disconnected from nature’s cycles, something essential fell asleep.
Societies that believe in reincarnation, for example, don’t fear death like Western worlds do.
There’s a reason why we obsess over youth and shove the old and sick away in special homes where nobody can see them.
Our linear society perceives death as a final ending punctuated by eternal heaven or hell, causing us to hold onto life without ever really living at all.
There’s another way to see death.
After our human selves die, we rest in the spirit world for a time, healing before being reborn.
The darkness is not actually nothing. It’s a place of destruction yes, but also a space of regeneration and pure potential.
Throughout our lives, we die a million deaths and are constantly being reborn. A lifetime of giving in to who we really are and what we really want.
A lifetime of letting our old selves go to become more of who we really are.
The fear of death, emptiness and the unknown keeps people from becoming the next version of themselves, or releasing things that no longer bring joy.
In order to enter the new chapter, you must fully let go of what was, often without knowing what the future looks like.
This space of not knowing, of nothingness, is a divine portal. Inside of it, you receive the visions that will carry you forward.
Those who choose to hold on aren’t rewarded. They stay stuck.
While learning how we’ve denied the literal darkness, I couldn’t help but link the goddess destruction to the denial of dark emotions.
Emotions like sadness and anger are considered negative, when feelings are only messages or creative potential.
Emotions accompany cycles, with dark, low times often bringing sadness, and energized, creative times bringing happiness.
This is natural, and it’s very important, especially for highly emotional creatives, to learn how to navigate these highs and lows because they’re integral to the creative process.
We can turn our pain into art, for sure, but part of becoming who you want to be requires releasing who you thought you had to be. This often requires dark, quiet times of releasing, crying and questioning. Endings bring pain.
There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s the new moon phase that will ultimately grow full. I’ve heard it said that sadness is a river taking you from one place in life to another.
In our linear world, the relentless search for happiness has many convinced they’ll reach a place of eternal sunshine, forgetting that every day has a night, every summer has a winter, every phase has an end.
Worse, our society has medicalized sadness, doling out labels and medications that only reflect deep fears of endings and darkness — things that were once revered.
Darkness isn’t a failure, and it’s not a sickness; it’s a sometimes painful release, always a portal to new beginnings. This is the forgotten cycle of life.
The more we embrace it, the more readily we let go of what was and blossom into the fullness of our potential.
The more we repress, resist and judge ourselves for feeling this way, the deeper, darker and scarier these times become. The more we end up stuck in a single gear.
Leaning into the darkness, letting yourself rest and get quiet, allows you to discover your genius, your unique gifts. Who you’re meant to be.
When you don’t honor the messages to slow down, old forms stay alive past their prime. This is how people get stuck, feel unhappy or unfulfilled.
Most people can’t find their passion because they refuse to feel their pain.
We must trust that just as the moon transitions from dark to full every 28 days, our own deep wisdom will carry us through the portal of darkness back into the light.
We have to die before we can be reborn.
Over the past month or so, I’ve been obsessed with watching Lady Gaga interviews.
Hearing her creative process is fascinating.
I realized that musicians release one album mayyyybe every year, but often with spans of several years in between.
Gaga says she needs time to gaze into the work. Her rhythm includes cycles of darkness, complete with dark emotions and thoughts, and then it breaks and a song is born.
This is often how real artists work.
Compare this to those promoting their work on social media, which has been a majority part of my strategy until recently, and there’s immense pressure to post every day. Several times a day, even!
This is not an environment or creative process helpful to those who fancy themselves true artists, or who desire to do deep work.
The pressure to be always on social is actually toxic, and can easily send people down the wrong path.
I believe the pressure to always be on is stopping people from creating truly great work, work that is THEIRS.
Instead of a masterpiece, there exists thousands of fragmented social media posts, buried beneath an infinite feed.
Art, living from the soul — these things require space.
Space outside the influence of others and beyond the cacophony of social media, which is as addictive as cocaine or gambling.
My recent social media break has revealed this to me in a dramatic way. Maybe I’ll share more sometime.
Artists (all humans, really, but especially artists) require connection with the darkest depths of their inner worlds, the same inner depths we’ve been taught to fear.
The same depths easily avoided by picking up your phone. But the only person that hurts is you.
I experienced this contrast over the past couple of years.
Last year during Unleash Your Magic, I recommended that people show up on a consistent schedule no matter what.
While this is sound advice for the beginning of anyone’s journey, I’ve come to realize this isn’t always the best advice for the long-term.
Personally, I soldiered on last year, creating unfailingly consistent content even though I felt tired and wanted a break. I thought I had to keep going.
I saw other people online disappearing from their virtual presence, and secretly wished I could do the same.
I bought into ideas that I had to show up every day and be consistent otherwise people would forget about me and my foundation would fall apart.
Looking back, this idea of consistency without ever stopping is a masculine ideal. It doesn’t honor the cycles of creativity, or the cycles of life.
Unfailing consistency has merits: When I was an undisciplined writer afraid to share my work with the world, forcing myself onto a schedule helped me transcend those fears and create confidence.
Last year, I did slow down, but although my body rested, my mind never did.
I was always strategizing the projects I’d complete upon return, and those plans always continued the trajectory I was already on even though deep down, I felt like I wasn’t doing the exact work I was meant to do, or want to do. It was close, but not quite.
I felt too afraid to fully let go of what was, scared to possibly kill everything I’d worked so hard to create, and maybe also a little nervous that my soul desires were cute, but not enough to make it in the modern world.
I hoped the feeling that something wasn’t right would go away, but it only got stronger. My body rebelled. I grew tired again and eventually decided things needed to change in a much more foundational way.
This year, I took actual space.
I stopped the Starlets, stopped posting every day on social media, stopped blogging every week, stopped creating and selling things.
I released all ideas of what I wanted my life and business to look like, released all previous dreams, plans and goals.
I faced my fears of irrelevancy, of loss and being forgotten. I faced my fear-based stories that said arbitrary levels of recognition, money and fame decided the worth of my work and myself.
I faced my fear that I didn’t know how to tap into the recesses of my soul and discover what I really wanted to create, who I really am or who I wanted to become.
I faced deeper layers of fears that what I wanted wasn’t possible or that I couldn’t create it.
I came to peace with my worst fears and saw how they controlled my life.
I let go of what was.
For so long, I’d prayed to receive the seed of a beautiful new vision to bring to life.
It turns out, first I had to let the old one die.
In Mysteries of the Dark Moon, author Demetra George writes of the blossoming full moon phase:
“If the form is inadequate to contain the meaning, or the meaning is not worthy of the form, there can occur a breakdown.”
In fact, there must occur a breakdown.
You’ll know if this is required by how it feels.
You can keep pushing, but that gnawing inside will never go away until you give in.
Sit in the quiet darkness and find yourself.
Life is patient. It will wait for you to let go of what was, even if it takes an entire lifetime. Maybe more.
Or you can learn now and enjoy now and not fight yourself for the rest of your life, and maybe the next one, too.
It’s for our GOOD, you know?
It’s all going to be okay. We are meant to be happy and shine!
But shining requires darkness.
Sometimes it feels easier to cling to what’s not working to avoid the emptiness.
When all along, that was exactly the thing to set us free.
Did this resonate with you? Let me know by commenting below.
Share this post with a fellow creative, or spiritual seeker who you believe in.
All the love,