What happens when we let go of our old habits and patterns of thinking and behaving? Before we are able to fully implement or integrate new ways of being, there is a middle phase of mourning whatever it we are shedding or releasing. Author WIlliam Bridges has written extensively about this in his books on transitions, based on years of working with individuals and organizations who are grappling with loss and change of all kinds.
Today I had a conversation in which I felt the startling truth of being seen and heard at such a profound level that words seemed almost too confining. So startling and profound that I literally felt a physical sensation of internal shifting and opening, as if something had finally become unstuck and there was room for…whatever is to come next. I don't have a map or GPS for that roadtrip.
What would it be like if we related to each other with the fullness of our truth, rather than a tiny semblance of our real selves that is truncated to meets other people's expectations? Or societal assumptions about how we are supposed to look, behave or feel. The amount of energy it takes to squash or silence ourselves is so enormous that it depletes us, sometimes quickly, sometimes so slowly that we don't realize it until we are feeling completely empty.
Every time someone allows me to see more of the fullness of who they are, it is a invitation for me to bravely meet them there. And each time we let go of an old habit or pattern or fear, there is a moment in which we are almost looking back at it as we move forward, as we grieve, like looking out the back window of a car. And then, there is freedom, openness, even euphoria. I heard Peter Levine talk about this in a presentation last year about trauma and spirituality; in witnessing people's healing from trauma, he has observed a spiritual transformation and a powerful experience of joy that follows.
In order to make space for all of who we are, we will need to shed some of our old ways, what is no longer needed or serving us, and mourn as we let them go. The journey from grief to joy is often without a roadmap, but not without the possibility of loving witnesses whose quiet presence allows us to become cartographers of our own lives.