An abstract or artistic picture for this article.
Lisa Ferentz, LCSW-C, DAPA

The Art of Unburdening Oneself by Letting Go

I just got back from a wonderful experience abroad talking to physicians about trauma. It’s always so gratifying to help them make connections between somatic symptoms that have no organic cause and their possible connection to unmetabolized trauma.

The training took place on a cruise ship where I was blessed spending time watching the ocean. I often use the imagery of “releasing anything burdensome or toxic into the ocean” with my clients. The mesmerizing power and movement of it really can serve as a resource to help free them up.  In therapy we can help clients to be emotionally and psychologically unburdened through the empowering act of “letting go” of other people’s issues and problems.

Clinician's Tips:

Here are few invitations you can offer clients to help them in their unburdening process:

- Let go of taking care of, enabling, or covering up for an irresponsible partner or colleague who tries to either blame you for their issues or expects you to clean up the messes they create.

- Let go of the energy you expend obsessing and worrying about other people and their behavior, or situations that are truly out of your control. Worrying doesn’t actually change anything other than draining you emotionally, physically, and mentally.

- Let go of motivating a partner, child, or colleague through guilt by saying things like, “If you loved me or cared enough you’d cooperate or change.” No one is motivated by guilt or shame and you will inadvertently create more resentment or passive-aggressive responses.

- Let go of trying to fix or change another person. You don’t have that power: the only person you can ever change is yourself.

- Let go of personalizing other people’s moods or actions. Most of the time it's not about you at all!

- Let go of putting your needs, feelings, and desires on the back burner in order to put someone else’s needs first. Allow your priorities to shift so you can continue to evolve and self-actualize.

- Let go of regrets and self-blame. Re-frame past choices and behaviors as teachable moments for insight, growth, and change.

- Let go of “owning” other people’s problems. Gain clarity about what is truly yours and what isn’t and know that the best way to release that ownership is by holding clear and consistent boundaries.

As clients let go of their preoccupation with other people and the emotional and psychological baggage that comes with it, they’ll discover a newfound supply of energy that enables them to embrace new thoughts and behaviors and enhance their wellbeing. They’ll be freed up to focus on their physical and mental health. They’ll have the emotional bandwidth to address unresolved issues, rediscover gratitude, and reconnect with the desires and dreams that were perpetually put on hold.

Encourage your clients to give themselves the gift of releasing whatever holds them back – whether it’s into the ocean or with whatever image works for them – so they can embrace and act on the ideas and choices that will move them forward in life.

More from Lisa’s Blog