Holding On As a Protection Device

When we can't let go of something that we no longer use or love, there's often an undercurrent of a feeling in us that says, "If I get rid of this thing, I will be hurt." We don't think so consciously, but it vibrates in us as a feeling of fear that keeps us stuck. Deep down, this feeling holds sway over us. "I will experience pain if I let this go."

I see this fear sometimes in clients eyes. I'll ask them, "Do you like this or can you let it go?" They'll admit they don't use it, but they feel confused and want to hang on. There's a rigidity in their response. Their body freezes. Their eyes show panic. And I can hear them breathe. The fear feels like, "Something bad is going to happen to me." But the thing is, something bad is happening to them right then and there. They've shut down, their flow is gone, their body is flooding with fear chemicals, and their heart is filled with frustration.

You might recognize this experience when you've come across something that you know is no longer part of your life, but you can't get yourself to release it from your life. Maybe it's clothes that you no longer wear. Perhaps it's something you inherited but don't care for. It could be a person that is no longer a part of your life. You might feel frustrated. Or get down on yourself. But what's going on is a basic, powerful fear raising its head. "If I get rid of _____, it's going to hurt me in some way." It's a protection device.

That's why I ask my clients a lot of questions. Not in a "there's something wrong with you way", but with an understanding that there's something deeper going on, and it would help to bring it out in the light. It's not asking what's the source of the problem. But asking if this thing is something you want to interact with today. "Do you want to use this thing right now?" "How does it make you feel when you hold it?" "Try it on and see how it makes you feel." It's looking to see how is having this thing in our lives actually making us feel.

Sometimes it's seeing the fear and realizing the effect it's having on us. "I don't want to let this go, but my holding on is making me feel like crap and I don't want that feeling in my life anymore." Or maybe we see that we wish this thing was a part of our life, but it isn't, and it would be easier on us to let it go.