“If you can face and understand your ultimate death, perhaps you can learn to face and deal productively with each change that presents itself in your life.”
— Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
Releasing unhealthy behavioral patterns and unresolved grievances supports the lifelong development of soul-hearted partnership with ourselves and others.
Letting go of such negativity unleashes the flow of positive energy needed for personal transformation and greater selectivity in our relationship choices. It also liberates us to live beyond the superficial, self-destructive roles we play on a daily basis and allows us to express our true being.
Many people hide behind the facade of their identity structure and past conditioning, afraid that if they let their guard down they will lose control or be confronted with who they truly are. But it is essential to see that identity structures only offer the illusion of security. And they do not allow us either to adapt to change without becoming uncentered or to use change as a catapult to personal transformation.
Too often we brace ourselves for change instead of letting go of our identity structure and embracing change as an opportunity for personal transformation.
In resisting change, however, we actually generate more energy around our insecurities, drawing toward us what we fear most.
Playing victim to circumstances, we close our hearts and inhibit the flow of energy that can heal the fragmentation we feel. Then validating our past as a survivor only supports this victim identity, causing us to become mired in misery. But when we open our hearts, we can lean into our fears and insecurities and peel away our identity structure, revealing our true being.
Peeling Away the Layers of Patterns
Personal transformation, which prepares us for the shared experience of soul-hearted partnership, necessitates continuously peeling away the layers of our patterns. Like an onion or the Turkish pastry baklava, with its fragile phyllo dough layers, the subtle layers of our patterns must be peeled away on an ongoing basis. We constantly generate life experiences that reveal the next layer of patterns to peel away, a process that occurs throughout our lives and is essential to our physical, emotional, and spiritual growth.
Using conscious awareness to recognize the layers of our fear-based patterns gives us the power to step outside of any situation, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable, and release our destructive reactions.
This healthy clearing process is like skin sloughing off dead cells that accumulate and block the growth of new cells. Animals, birds, and plants also move through a regenerative clearing process—cycles of shedding, molting, or loss of leaves—as a part of their natural development. Similarly, as we peel away layers of patterns, we develop a spiritual clarity that transcends our identity structure. When we recognize and release patterns as they surface, we can direct our creative energies toward shaping a more fulfilling life.
The following story about a client, Nicole, illustrates how to use conscious awareness to recognize and release patterns that block our ability to manifest the life and relationships we want.
When Nicole was forty-five, she came to a turning point in her life following the death of her mother and realized it was time to enter therapy to explore why she felt depressed. She also wanted to break free of behavioral patterns that had imprisoned her mother and now herself in a series of unfulfilling relationships.
As a child, Nicole became the caretaker of her younger siblings whenever her mother was hospitalized for paranoid schizophrenia and her father was on the road making sales calls. Nicole had also intervened when her mother was at home exhibiting unpredictable behavior such as arguing with the radio or television, yelling at her or her siblings, or wielding kitchen knives at them.
During our sessions Nicole saw that in relationships she had played the role of self-sacrificing caretaker so she could distract herself from pain and loss related to her past.
Her need to be needed drove her into the arms of men who needed to be rescued.
Making their lives wonderful helped her feel more powerful and in control of her emotions, but she soon developed an identity structure characterized by this pattern. It was no wonder that by her second marriage she still felt adrift and lifeless.
Using a therapeutic tool I had suggested, Nicole finally became aware of her pattern and got in touch with her disappointment at having settled for another unhealthy and unfulfilling relationship.
As she wrote in her journal, “I have now married the second wrong man. Why do I keep going back to these same relationships?” “What happened to my hopes and dreams?” “How did I lose myself?”
With my guidance, Nicole began to realize that she was not listening to the voice of spirit through her heart.
Afraid to face the reality of how unhappy she was and that her marriage was over, she had closed her heart and was not accessing the guidance of spirit. She also saw that she had ignored her own needs and completely directed her energies toward her husband and the two children she had given birth to.
Once she became aware that her personal needs were as important as those of her family and that the relationship was incompatible with realizing her physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, she was ready to start addressing them by developing a loving relationship with herself.
Making a covenant to be true to herself, she resolved to pay attention to her own needs first, even though it created upheaval in her family.
To help Nicole break from the identities of wife, mother, and caretaker that guarded the doorway of her inner being, I suggested she develop a ritual of release, taking time alone in a special place to surrender to the emotional pain she had avoided. I further explained that the more she tried to repress her feelings of sadness and despair, the more pronounced her emotional pain would become. Choosing her favorite corduroy chair as a safe sanctuary symbolizing the trusted space of the self, she performed a personalized ritual of release by sitting still and allowing her pain to surface.
Next, I clarified for her that releasing all her emotional pain wouldn’t happen overnight, but with time and patience it would be the key to recovering access to her true being and connection with source.
And indeed, over a period of months Nicole reached a point where she couldn’t hold back her feelings of sadness and despair. As if standing on an ocean beach, she finally faced the turbulent waves of hurt rolling up from within her. At first she felt the undertow of the feelings pull her down until she could no longer breathe. But after surfacing again, she felt as if a weight had been lifted off her heart.
Soon after, I pointed out to Nicole that the series of relationships in which she had felt that something was missing represented a progression toward ultimately have a fulfilling life partner—that rather than failing in her relationships she was actually moving toward the relationship she truly desired.
I guided her to see that in her first marriage she had produced a beautiful son and emerged with the qualities of security and loving devotion so she could not consider it a “failed” relationship. But unfortunately she had then become involved too quickly in another exclusive relationship without having first developed and sustained a fuller relationship with herself.
I then helped her see that her second marriage had satisfied her need for spiritual growth, afforded her the opportunity to recognize and release her patterns of insecurity, self-sacrifice, control, and caretaking, and brought the gift of her daughter. She explained that she had chosen to stay in the marriage because she couldn’t justify what her friends and family would perceive as another “failed marriage” and also felt a loyalty to remain in the marriage for her children’s sake.
As it turned out, the factors overriding her heart’s desire to leave the marriage were her unresolved feelings about her parents’ divorce and her father’s subsequent remarriage and divorce.
Before she could let go of her current marriage, she had to come to terms with the promise she had made to herself that she would never put her children through this experience.
Eventually, Nicole realized that she had always had the option to choose beyond what her mindsets dictated.
She had detoured from her true being’s path, making choices out of fear. She thought such choices would satisfy her, but she discovered that they made her feel stagnant and depressed. Once aware of the source of her unhappiness, she became empowered to change those elements of her life that were no longer appropriate to her true being.
Amidst the distractions and fast pace of our lives, we don’t always notice the layers of patterns we carry since they can be disguised as anger, annoyance, or discomfort.
But we can remember that spiritual tools are available to assist us whenever we deviate from the path of our true being. Like the jack we keep in the trunk of the car in case of a flat tire, these tools are within reach whenever we need them. And they operate like a cosmic cow catcher in front of a locomotive, clearing the track of anything that blocks the forward momentum of our lives.
Using our cosmic cow catcher, we can catch and release negative patterns. Bryan Christopher suggests one such tool, useful in clearing any fear-based thought, mindset, or belief that crops up, is the mantra “Bless and release”—to be followed by a positive affirmation such as “Don’t go there” or “Break the pattern.” Give yourself permission to evaluate situations and support the release of reactions rooted in fear.
Another useful tool that can help release patterns, as well as address unresolved grievances and let go of unfulfilling relationships, is a self-designed ritual of release.
Examples of rituals of release that I have used myself and suggested to my clients follow.
One ritual of release that I used to resolve my relationship with my mother, who abandoned me when I was young, involved fashioning then burying a miniature time capsule in the form of a coffee can that contained items connected to our relationship.
Following a year-long search for my mother after her twenty-six year absence—a quest that revealed past experiences of loss and pain—my search ended at the run-down apartment in Pittsburgh where I had last lived with her. I had with me the coffee can containing a photograph that captured my essence at age eight, the year my mother had left me, along with a letter to that little girl expressing my unconditional love for her.
I had written: ”Dear Debbie, you are a strong, loving, and courageous woman. You are whole and complete light. This is how you came into the world and this is how you will leave. Remember, you have not been abandoned. I have always been there with you. You have blessed and released your painful past. Now, be free to live and express the light of your being.” These ritual objects acknowledged both who I was then and who I had become.
I buried the coffee can in the backyard of the apartment building, symbolizing the clearing of patterns and unresolved grief relating to my mother. As a result of releasing patterns and forgiving the past, I began to claim my true being so I could create a more positive and fulfilling life.
Another effective ritual of release is one created by a client named Ellen.
For years after the death of her mother and grandmother, Ellen had kept some of their clothes, struggling to decide what to do with them. Finally, to release her feelings of grief over her loss of these pivotal women in her life, Ellen made a beautiful quilted pillow using red calico fabric from her grandmother’s housedress and blue printed cloth from a dress her mother had worn.
Sewing the squares of the pillow gave her an opportunity to experience emotions and memories related to the women and transform her pain into a new creative undertaking. As she stitched together the cloth fragments, she also was able to integrate the fragmented pieces of herself. Ultimately, she produced a stunning creation that transformed her unresolved grief into a memorable expression of the love she had for these women.
Other rituals of release include making a picture scrapbook, using old photos in a collage about the past, and journaling.
Such rituals transform energy held in patterns and unresolved grievances into positive creative experiences. For example, to release her lifelong pattern of victim, another client, Jackie, took photos from her childhood, colored textured papers, and inspired quotes and created a visual journal that depicted her self-healing from child sexual abuse.
Learning how to peel away layers of patterns assists us in embarking on the life we have always envisioned. Instead of becoming aggravated each time we meet up with obstruction, we can clear the track of patterns that no longer serve us and see beyond the illusions of identity structure to our true self and future potential.
Forgiving the Past
To forgive our past, we first have to face and resolve any unfinished business from our past choices. This means every pattern and grievance must be examined, like turning over river stones, without hiding behind the facade of excuses. Then, to attain closure, in addition to spiritually releasing our patterns it is also necessary to clean up any physical residue associated with them by getting rid of emotionally charged possessions or gifts, closing bank accounts, changing titles on properties, and letting go of old wedding rings. A memorable scene in the movie Harold and Maude depicts Maude achieving physical closure by taking off her wedding ring and throwing it into the water.
Releasing the layers of patterns is a lifelong process because their residue never completely goes away; instead, the layers become subtler and more difficult to discern. Even when we eliminate a pattern, the brain continues to show us a phantom of it. Like a file that we have deleted from our hard drive, its energy as a virtual hologram can still surface physically, alerting us to the past and reminding us to stay true to ourselves. Fortunately, we can reduce its charge by acknowledging our awareness of it, saying, whenever it surfaces, “Hello, pattern, here you are again” and perceiving it only as a phantom of the past.
As the residue of old patterns reveals itself to us, it can prompt us to free ourselves from the past.
For example, my second husband and I shared an account number with a grocery store incentive program to earn points toward free gas. As I stopped for gas one afternoon seven years after our divorce, I tried to use my card as always, only to learn that the points in my account had been recently redeemed. Thinking the card had been stolen, I called the customer service manager, who proceeded to explain that the account had been accessed by my ex-husband. It soon dawned on me that this experience offered me an opportunity to forgive the past and clean up the unfinished business from my second marriage by taking my name off the account.
To move forward, it is imperative to clear lives of anyone or anything that does not align with our vision of future health and happiness.
Because residue of patterns can be lurking anywhere in our physical environment, it is necessary to thoroughly evaluate our surroundings for old items inappropriate to our true being that may be blocking our energy. For example, if you open a desk drawer and see papers, photos, or gifts from a previous relationship, regard it as a cue to keep anything you cherish and discard the rest. As if holding an open house at a residence for sale, it is beneficial to set a date for inspecting your living quarters to evaluate your belongings, deciding which items to keep, move to a different place, or release and eliminate.
The following scenario illustrates one woman’s approach to completing a relationship and forgiving the past.
After the dissolution of her marriage, Carla, a young accountant, cleared everything out of her life that related to her marriage and wasn’t in alignment with developing a healthy relationship with herself.
This was the impetus for her to clean out her closets, give away household items that had any connection to the marriage, and move everything else that didn’t resonate with her out of her house. Finally, forgiving her past, she changed her last name and had the new name put on the title of her house, thereby taking charge of her new life as a single woman in full partnership with herself.
Carla’s family and friends waited for the other shoe to drop as she cleaned up the residue of her relationship. Believing that her head was in the clouds and her feet were not on the ground, they were certain she was making a mistake, that she would fail to survive as a single woman and would have to sell her house, close her accounting practice, and go back to her ex-husband. They supported the same fear-based myths she had heard all her life, such as “People need to stay in a relationship at all costs” and “It is impossible to reach for the stars and fulfill your dreams.”
In our sessions, Carla discovered the value of trusting her own experience and consistently making choices with clarity, despite resistance from other people in her life. Realizing she was doing nothing wrong by following her heart, she began to release her patterns of insecurity and seeking approval.
Instead of acquiescing to the conditional support of her family and friends, she learned to trust the unconditional love she was developing for herself, which gave her the courage to transform her life.
Even though Carla was undergoing a tumultuous transition, she knew she had taken charge in a way she never had before.
As she continued to make discerning choices regarding things that now worked for her, she began to feel an inner security she hadn’t felt since her childhood. Once her life began to flourish, her family and friends were shocked, but she knew the transformation was because she trusted her power to make her own dreams come true.
A good example of how we can receive such information through the heart is the following experience of a client named Laura.
During her daughter Anne’s choral concert at school, Laura felt an excitement that something amazing was about to happen as her daughter was performing a vocal solo for the first time. As Anne began to sing, Laura felt overcome with joy and unconditional love, unable to find words to express her experience of everything melting into a stream of loving energy.
After the performance, as Laura waited in a classroom for her daughter, she was aware of a tingly electrical current of energy coursing through her body.
With her heart open, she then sensed an expansion of herself, as if she were simultaneously transporting in and out of her body and to other realities.
While in this state of heightened awareness, she felt clarity about a choice she had put off concerning her career. Then, like a universal translator, she sensed information being downloaded and encoded through her that would guide her to see new possibilities for her future career.
Prior to this she had sensed that she needed to close her online clothing business because she wasn’t making a profit, but she had been afraid of the uncertainty this situation would entail. In that instant, she looked down at the desk she was touching and wondered about a career in teaching. I later highlighted for Laura that the surge of energy had opened her to more expanded levels of spiritual awareness in which she could access information to guide her life.
My client Linda had an equally interesting experience completing a relationship and forgiving the past. Twenty-two years after she and her first husband were divorced, he invited her to breakfast without first telling her why he wanted to meet with her. Linda graciously accepted his invitation.
As they were sitting at the table reflecting on their terrific son, her ex gazed at her, took a deep breath, and said, “The main reason I wanted to meet today was to share with you that I’m an alcoholic.”
He proceeded to tell her he had recently completed a chemical dependency treatment program and now wanted to make amends for not having been present in their relationship, as well as take full responsibility for his part in their breakup. Stunned while listening to his words, she became intensely aware of the need to complete her pattern of caretaker during the marriage, and together they forgave the past.
While it is possible to temporarily “slip” and get entangled once again in the residue of patterns, we have to trust the voice of spirit to guide us in completing patterns and forgiving the past. When we embrace this natural shedding rather than resisting it, we release additional patterns that no longer serve us, gradually exposing more of our true being. This process leads to a new beginning and a spiritual awakening.
Embracing Transitions As Periods of Transformation
Transitions a—intense periods of discovery, self-healing, and personal transformation—can catalyze the release of patterns, the resolution of grievances, and open space for new possibilities and spiritual growth. From a spiritual point of view, a person’s life is a constant series of transitions: changing jobs or careers, suffering from and healing an illness, beginning or ending relationships, having a baby or facing a death in the family, and initiating or completing creative projects.
Although these transitions may make us feel that we are losing our bearings, they are actually signs that we are processing new and stored information simultaneously and expanding our conscious awareness. They can also be seen as times of gathering strength physically, mentally, and spiritually in preparation for the next step forward in life—just as it is necessary to spring up at the end of a diving board to gather momentum for a full twist into the pool.
While moving through transitions, we may experience physical and emotional exhaustion, anxiety, and disorientation.
Releasing past patterns and absorbing new information blows the circuits of the brain as it sorts through stored files trying to make sense of the new data coming in through the heart. At such times we might get confused and start misplacing items, bumping into walls, or dropping fragile articles. I get lost driving to places I know, careen into furniture, and even forget where I am. Fortunately, now that I am aware of what transitions feel like I no longer confuse them with early dementia, as I once did.
During a transition, we need to slow down and center ourselves, be aware of all that is happening around us, and remain true to ourselves and our vision for the future.
To ground ourselves during such stressful periods when everything is in flux, we can breathe deeply; touch the center of the chest and open the heart; take a walk or work in the garden, using the elements of nature to calm us; or bathe to cleanse our energy field.
An experience a few years ago reminded me that transitions are often initiated when spirit brings in new information to prepare us for the future. My husband, Doug, had presented me with a stunning, blue-violet tanzanite ring for my forty-seventh birthday while we were on vacation in Panama. Because we were traveling out of the country and needed to keep the ring safe, we affectionately started calling it “Precious.”
Six months later, I stopped by the jewelry store and had the ring cleaned while I waited. As soon as they were finished, I immediately placed the ring back on my finger, put on my leather glove, and left the store. When I arrived home, I took off my glove to admire the sparkling ring and noticed a small hairline crack inside the stone. As the day went on, the crack grew larger until it looked like the stone had shattered inside. Doug and I called the jeweler and our insurance company to ask about our options for replacing the stone.
Trusting that what was happening was not to upset but to inform me, with conscious awareness I observed the replacement process and contemplated the meaning of the incident for my life.
First, the jeweler offered to replace the stone without any further charge to us. Then our insurance company sent a check to the jeweler to cover the cost of a new stone. Witnessing everything, I became convinced that the stone had imploded from the inside out as a spiritual sign of a powerful transition to come. My intuition was affirmed two weeks later when I had a suspicious mammogram that began a year-long process of self-healing and personal transformation.
The metamorphosis of the piece of jewelry ultimately foreshadowed another important transition in my life. First, I was led to replace the old stone with something new to symbolize letting go of the past and opening to the future. When the jeweler brought out a deep blue sapphire stone for me to examine, I chose it as a symbolic declaration for my future.
Six months later, unbeknownst to me, my husband bought the damaged tanzanite stone from the jeweler, had it sent to a gem cutter in California, and on my forty-eighth birthday presented me with a beautiful tanzanite necklace. It was “Precious” transformed into two stones, a heart and a triangle joined together on top. Little did I know at the time that these two shapes would become the symbols for soul-hearted partnership, a concept I would channel for my book within the next year.
The following are ways to remain positive and centered while moving through intense transitions.
First, regard such shifts as natural life occurrences, seeing parallels in the natural world. Viewing transitions as natural allows us to act in ways that direct more of our creative energies into new possibilities for our future. For example, aware that you will be selling your house in the near future, you can refrain from investing time or money in building an addition and instead make repairs and continue keeping it beautiful so you can still enjoy it. Similarly, you can let go of relationships that tie you to the past and are no longer appropriate for your life, while sustaining the others through healthy detachment and unconditional love.
Also, we can clear potential energy blocks so that we remain an open channel of creative energy. Just as water runs through a hose when it is open and free of kinks, so does energy flow freely when there are no energy blocks due to unresolved negativity, resistance, or avoidance. So be sure to release any pattern of resistance or avoidance, which may otherwise only intensify your transition and in some cases produces a physical, emotional, or financial crisis.
Energy blocks can be produced by any toxicity in an environment.
The blocks occur within the body, which is impacted, whether we are conscious of it or not, by all thoughts, feelings, and habits. Even the choices we make to live in a specific location or work at a particular job affect the flow of our energy.
Energy blocks can also develop when there is someone or something in our environment with which we do not resonate, such as a couch that is not aligned with our true being.
When we clutter our environment with people or things that are inappropriate to our true being, we drain our physical energy, which generates stagnancy and illness.
An example of how the removal of energy blocks releases new potential occurs in the following story about a client named Lynn. Every time Lynn walked into her master bedroom, her grandmother’s rocking chair grabbed her attention. She recalled the day when her mother had given her the heirloom chair and how she felt obligated to take it. Unlike her mother, who adored this antique, she had never resonated with its design or meaning.
Consequently, she had placed it in the corner of her bedroom and covered it with discarded clothing, but it was still a drain on her energies because it was a constant reminder of the dubious choice she had made to accept something she didn’t want. Finally recognizing this, Lynn found a friend who adored the quaint rocking chair and moved it to her home. This choice freed her creative energies so that she could manifest an intention more appropriate to her true being, such as a new bed she desired.
When we block the flow of energy and thus the guidance of spirit through the heart, we upset our chemical and metabolic systems, weakening the immune system or causing depression or disease.
It is therefore essential to release them on a regular basis, restoring balance to the physical, mental, and emotional systems.
The more we clear energy blocks, caused by accumulations of things related to our former lives, the more the flow of energy becomes available to create new potential. Moving through life from one transition to another without resistance, avoidance, or energy blocks allows us to open to these new possibilities and develop spiritually.
Entering the Space of Vulnerability
The space of vulnerability is the place where we confront ourselves alone, stripped of our patterns and defenses. In this space, the ego begins to step aside, the chatter of the mind lessens, and we get in touch with our true being. There follows a silent dialogue with ourselves that can enkindle a purification in the midst of what otherwise feels like a spiritual crisis.
Initially, being alone can make us feel anxious, yearning for the identity structure we have long relied on; fortunately, we need not stay in this space more than ten minutes, though a longer duration may improve the results. Such solitude can cause waves of emotion to surface like ocean swells crashing onto the shore, and we can lose our balance as when an undertow pulls us below the surface. Letting out our gut-wrenching pain allows us to feel more fully.
Yet despite such intense feelings, we can persist in the space of vulnerability by reminding ourselves that it will allow us to see and uproot patterns that inhibit full self-expression. In witnessing our internal processes, we become aware of how our negative thoughts can trigger a chain reaction of emotions, such as fear, sadness, or disappointment. We also discover that our anxiety, grievances, and other problems derive form external sources.
When our fears and insecurities are revealed and released in the space of vulnerability, we may feel like Humpty Dumpty falling off a wall and shattering into pieces.
It’s likely we will grieve the loss of the false security provided by our patterns and defense mechanisms. But once we move through this experiential death, we see that only our identity structure has died, not our true being. In fact, we must allow our identity structure to die so that we can experience what it feels like to be fully alive.
The story of my client Elise is a good example of this type of experiential death.
Thirty years after her mother had died, Elise, at age thirty-eight, returned to Ireland to visit her family and her mother’s gravesite. Spending time with her family opened up a flood of unresolved feelings of loss and activated painful flashbacks to her childhood. Near the end of her visit, as Elise and her younger sister had lunch on a pier watching the fishing trawlers dock, her sister shared an experience of a close friend who had purposely walked into the sea and drowned.
Listening to her sister, Elise felt overwhelmed with sadness and knew that she, too, could commit suicide by walking into the ocean.
After returning home, Elise felt swept up in an emotional tsunami of depression. She tried desperately to hold the fragments of herself together, fearful that without a grip on herself she would die. The more she resisted grieving, however, the closer she felt to death, suffering from heart palpitations and chronic lung disease.
One beautiful May day, suicide became a viable option for stopping the pain she felt. In preparation, she set a bottle of Irish whiskey and sleeping pills on the kitchen table. Then, as she contemplated her choice, a gas company employee knocked on the door wanting to read her meter. At that moment, she felt as if she had been resuscitated by electrical paddles.
I met Elise following her suicide attempt.
Since visiting her family the year before, she had been steadily unraveling and having vivid dreams that her mother’s spirit was with her. Then during her job working with hospice patients the husband of a patient had played music that Elise recognized as one of her mother’s favorite pieces, an incident that made her realize she had been ignoring intuitive messages. This awakening led to her release of unresolved losses and healing.
As Elise’s story exemplifies, the loss of a significant relationship, even one characterized by distress, if left unresolved can produce separation anxiety and a sense of fragmentation of the self.
Without letting go of these losses, we can have difficulty moving from one transition to another, a passage that brings about physical, emotional, and spiritual maturation.
Despite the pain it elicits, loss teaches us about the delicate balance, intensity, and richness of life, for we cannot experience the pain of loss without first having experienced the joys associated with what has been lost. In the movie Shadowlands,the poet Joy Gresham, in speaking about her impending death to author C. S. Lewis, who late in life savored the delights of romance and passion with her, says, “The greater the love, the deeper the sorrow—and the longer it will take to work through it. That’s the deal.”1
Grieving our losses by embracing emotional vulnerability is the path to healing our fractured self and expressing our fullest potential.
Losses we suffer can derive from a wide range of situations. Author and journalist Judith Viorst points out, “[When we think of loss,] we think of the loss through death of people we love. Loss, however, is a far more encompassing theme in our life. For we lose not only through death but also by leaving and being left, by changing and moving on. And our losses include not only our separations and departures from those we love, but our conscious and unconscious losses of romantic dreams, impossible expectations, illusions of freedom and power, illusions of safety, and the loss of our younger self, the self that thought it always would be unwrinkled, invulnerable, and immortal.”2
The act of blessing and releasing anyone or anything assists us in forgiving our past, allows us to better appreciate the present, and orients us toward the future.
And forgiving our past permits us to embrace our natural life cycles, accepting life as a series of births and deaths, transitions that lead to personal transformation. Entering the space of vulnerability to dissolve our identity structure and access our true being allows us to experience the other side of fear, which is love and trust in ourselves. The surge of creative energy derived from this love and trust empowers us to manifest a new life of endless possibilities.
Blessing and Releasing Unhealthy and Unfulfilling Relationships
Maintaining unhealthy and unfulfilling relationships can drain a person’s life force, while letting go of them empowers us to shift our reality and create space for new relationships that enhance our growth. Blessing and releasing unhealthy and unfulfilling relationships with unconditional love and integrity can teach us how to forgive our past, heal ourselves, and generate positive energy to progress on our spiritual path toward greater growth and fulfillment.
If we do not break clean from an unhealthy relationship and stop investing energy in it, we will continue to desperately keep it alive while knowing in our hearts that our spirit has already left it, causing us to feel dead inside.
Many relationships come to a pivotal point where one person has grown to such a degree that the other partner must transform as well or the relationship will be in jeopardy.
Usually the partner resists the natural shift that is occurring by creating distraction or drama, which ignites tension and conflict. At this crossroads, one or both partners may choose to end the relationship or use the creative energy that has been awakened to transform the relationship.
While working with couples, I often ask each person at the beginning of the session, “How do you think things are going with your relationship?” Many times one partner will tell me they think things are good and they feel close to their partner, while the other person discloses that they want a separation or divorce. On the other hand, in some cases both partners may be able to move through the crisis by letting go of the old form of their relationship and cocreating a new form capable of sustaining mutual spiritual growth.
Blessing and releasing unhealthy and unfulfilling relationships is often challenging.
For one thing, there is the matter of loyalty or fear of not finding another relationship. Even when we know it is in our best interest to let go of someone we loved and move on, thoughts of doing so trigger upheaval, such as feelings of guilt, resentment, anger, disappointment, or sadness. This is especially true if the partners are in different stages of emotional or spiritual growth or if they disagree about terminating the relationship.
We may feel ready to release the relationship, while the other person, terrified of change, is adamantly holding on to it.
In this scenario, one partner will stop at nothing to block the ending of the relationship, resistance that causes conflict and prevents healing. As a result much energy is spent on judging and blaming, which only produces more complications in ending the relationship.
In addition, many people are influenced by the myth that the passionate, divine union of souls they envision as their ideal is an unattainable dream or a perfect script for a movie. Consequently, they convince themselves that their relationship is “as good as it gets” and settle for a facsimile of soul-hearted partnership.
Society itself encourages people to remain in unfulfilling relationships by perpetuating the myth that you should “stay and work it out” or “remain loyal to the family” even when the relationship is supporting self-destructive patterns or is incompatible with the partners’ emotional or spiritual needs.
But when families and friends support the status quo they are usually motivated, either consciously or unconsciously, by the desire to keep their own lives unaffected by changes resulting from the breakup, especially financial or emotional burdens. When partners yield to such societal demands to remain in unhealthy and unfulfilling relationships, they sacrifice their dreams, which ultimately stifles their spiritual growth.
Also, if people doing inner spiritual work contemplate leaving an unfulfilling relationship, they often procrastinate, ignoring unmistakable signs and experiences that tell them the relationship’s life cycle has ended. To create a new, deeper relationship, they must completely release patterns associated with the former one and enter into a spiritual covenant with each other to transform their partnership.
In preparing to bless and release an unhealthy or unfulfilling relationship, it is first important to remember that the demise of the relationship cannot be blamed on one partner.
The old adage “It takes two to tango” holds true because each person is accountable for the direction the relationship has taken regardless of who is dissolving it. When both people take full responsibility for every choice in their lives, including being in the relationship in the first place, then there are no victims, and peaceful coexistence is possible.
When both people take responsibility for cocreating and letting go of their relationship, they validate the purpose the relationship has served and their experiences in it.
Here is an example of such an acknowledgment in the form of a letter one person wrote to their ex-partner expressing appreciation and love:
“My dear one, let us always remember the purpose that brought us together and that we entered into our relationship with meaningful intention, support, and love. Let us now part in love and appreciation for each other. I release our relationship for my own spiritual transformation and hold you in the sacredness of my heart forever. Together, let’s declare a new positive intention to separate well in love, care, and mutual understanding.”
There are several ways to evaluate whether an unhealthy and unfulfilling relationship is worth keeping and working on or if it is so dependent on history and patterns, and so fraught with incompatibilities that we need to terminate and release it.
One way is to ask ourselves: “Is this relationship appropriate to my true being and for this period of my life?” This question implies that we are in touch with our true being and can assess whether the relationship is supporting it. Talking with a therapist or journaling can assist us in determining which aspects of the relationship may be at odds with our true being and spiritual growth.
Another way to evaluate whether a relationship supports our personal well-being and growth is to ask ourselves:
“Does this relationship affirm and enhance my well-being?” Does this person love, trust, and support me with integrity?” and “Do I feel good about myself when I am with this person?” If the answers are yes, then it is worth maintaining the relationship. If the answers are maybe, observe more and remain in touch with the person for the time being. If the answers are no, bless and release the relationship, wishing the other person a happy life.
When we recognize that a relationship is over and we need to let go, we have to balance between two realities—the physical reality of the relationship and the spiritual reality that our spirit has moved on and is informing us of new future possibilities.
Dealing with the physical reality may seem like visiting a gravesite where there remains a physical marker of the deceased while the deceased’s spirit has gone elsewhere. It is under such circumstances, where physical remnants of a relationship still exist within the spiritual vacuum, that transitional relationships tend to occur. Although it may be tempting at such a time to “cut and run,” it is beneficial to allow time for a healthy, healing breakup. This is because we need to complete the relationship energy and review its significance in our lives to clear the necessary space for eventually cocreating another one or choosing to remain alone.
The following are guidelines for completing a relationship with unconditional love, respect, and integrity.
First, give yourself permission to let go of the relationship without experiencing guilt, fear, shame, or hopelessness.
Remember, the other person has the power of choice as well, even when it looks like they’re being left. In releasing the relationship with unconditional love, you give the other person permission to love and leave as well.
Second, trust yourself, listen to your heart, and use your expanded conscious awareness to guide you.
Reflect on the purposes for which the relationship was cocreated and how the needs of the partners may have changed. Consider the fact that some relationships can remain intact as partners grow, while others need to be dissolved because the partners must follow their own hearts. Also recognize that relationships can be appreciated as invaluable personal experiences even if they ultimately need to be terminated.
Third, choose a safe and neutral place to communicate your desire to end the relationship as clearly and honestly as possible.
Be prepared for angry or hurt reactions from the other person. Take responsibility for your choices and refrain from blaming or judging the other person so you don’t fall into the pattern of right versus wrong. Treat yourself and the other person with utmost care and kindness as you work to dissolve the relationship so the experience of it will serve you in a beneficial way as you initiate future relationships in your life.
When a face-to-face conversation with the other person might result in too much conflict, first write a letter or e-mail to ensure clear and honest communication. Express your point of view with “I” statements and accept the other person’s perspective without blame or judgment. Then, when you feel ready to talk in person, speak in a loving tone of voice, allow uninterrupted time for each of you to express your views, and immediately stop any conversation that leads to bickering or blaming.
Fourth, allow sufficient time for each partner’s adjustment to any changes that result from dissolution of the relationship.
Do not presume that the other person is as prepared as you are mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Decide on a reasonable time line for resolving business, such as sorting personal belongings or joint properties, negotiating living space, rearranging finances, and untangling family ties and mutual friendships.
Fifth, bless the relationship as you release it, transcending any negativity about the other person or the relationship.
One way to do this is to invoke unconditional love and to visualize enveloping the other person with love and light energy. Acknowledge love for your own being, the being of the other person, and the connection shared, while releasing the physical bonds of the relationship.
You can use the phrase “Bless and release” as a mantra or prayer to clear your body and mind so that spirit will guide you to let go and open to new possibilities. All the while, trust yourself and your connection to source, acknowledge the reasons you came together in the first place, and honor the purpose the relationship has served. Such an energetic completion allows you to appreciate the other person and simultaneously sustain a relationship with your true self. The intention to bless and release the relationship opens space for both people to transform their lives.
A good tool to use in blessing and releasing a relationship with unconditional love and integrity is a ritual.
This worked well for my client Claire. Although she had broken off her relationship with Jack, I encouraged her to tie up loose ends of their partnership by eliminating her pattern of caretaking and shifting her creative energies to caring for herself. To let go of her pattern of caretaking, she stopped answering his abusive calls in the middle of the night, deleted his phone number from her speed dial, and removed his possessions from her apartment. She decided if he wanted closure he would have to arrange an appropriate time and place to meet with her.
Claire then completed the relationship by designing a ritual of release.
A few months after breaking up with Jack, she traveled solo to Mexico, aware that she had to face her fear of being alone. Once Claire had enjoyed a few days at the beach, her heart told her it was time to put the past behind her. The next morning, she headed for the beach, walking down a rocky path lined with lilac and sage bushes that filled the air with heavenly scents. At the beach, she dug a hole big enough to bury her experiences of loss associated with every relationship in her life.
Next she read aloud the eulogy she had written: “My dear Jack, you gave me the opportunity to witness and love myself. You believed in me and truly loved me—thank you. I will always remember your unique spirit and am grateful for knowing you and the time together. I bless and release you from my life.” Then she placed sprigs of sage she had picked on his picture, laid it and the eulogy in the hole, and covered them with sand. Finally, she placed a stone on top of the makeshift grave.
For the first time since she had left the relationship, she felt at peace.
She also knew that she was not alone but in touch with her true being and connected to her source, which had always been there. By not settling for an unfulfilling relationship, she opened herself to the possibility of cocreating a fulfilling one with someone else in the future.
Blessing and releasing unhealthy and unfulfilling relationships unleashes a flow of energy through the heart. This is the energy that manifests soul-hearted partnerships in the future.
Releasing patterns and unresolved grievances frees us to discover and support our true being. Then, listening to the voice of spirit through the heart, we are guided to see that we are responsible for cocreating our own reality, and we make more discerning choices for a more fulfilling life.
Practicing the Principles
1. Examine and forgive your unresolved grievances.
Take a written or verbal inventory of your unresolved grievances and identify your personal wounds by asking yourself these questions: “What past or present memories, situations, or relationships require forgiveness and healing?” “Am I holding on to grievances against others and am I afraid to let go of them?” “How has harboring resentment against another person or myself interfered with my spiritual growth?”
2. Use the phrase "Bless and release" as a mantra or prayer for clearing your body, mind, and spirit.
Every time you notice a fear-based thought, feeling, or pattern, think or say, “Bless and release,” to dissipate any negative energy or patterns. Alternately, when you notice negativity touch the center of your chest and direct your heart to let go of whatever reaction you are holding. Send light energy out to encircle the person or thing involved and invite your spirit to release the negativity.
3. Walk consciously through your environment and notice where possible energy blocks exist.
Observe everything and assess whether or not it serves you well and is appropriate for you in your current life circumstances. Clear your house of anyone or anything that does not align with your well-being and future intentions.
4. Evaluate the appropriateness of your relationships for your current level of spiritual development.
Review the directory in your cell phone to see which relationships support your well-being and your path to self-realization. As you look at the name of each individual, ask, “Does this person support me unconditionally in my life?” and “Does this relationship enrich my life?” If you answer yes to either of these questions, retain their name and number. If you answer no, eliminate them from the directory.
5. Create a personal ceremony to bless and release any person or pattern that does not resonate with your true being, using items related to the person or pattern or a statement of intent related to a new life in the future.
Possible ceremonies may include a private prayer service, the burning of items, the creation of a picture scrapbook or journal, or the designing of a collage that reflects your future intentions.
1. Shadowlands, directed by Richard Attenborough (Manchester, UK: Savoy Pictures,1993).
2. Judith Viorst, Necessary Losses (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986), 15–16.
Excerpt from Soul-Hearted Partnership: The Ultimate Experience of Love, Passion, and Intimacy by Debra L. Reble and printed with permission.
About the author
Consciously merging her practical tools as a psychologist with her intuitive and spiritual gifts, Debra L. Reble, Ph.D. empowers women to connect with their hearts and live authentically through her transformational Soul-Hearted Living program and podcasts.
A soul-inspiring writer, Debra is the author of the award-winning Soul-Hearted Partnership: The Ultimate Experience of Love, Passion, and Intimacy with four awards including the Eric Hoffer award. She is also a contributing author to the International Best-seller Inspiration for a Women’s Soul: Choosing Happiness, Inspiration for a Women’s Soul: Cultivating Joy (Oct. 2015) and The Wisdom of Midlife Women 2 (August 2015) published by Inspired Living Publishing. She is currently writing her new book, Being Love.
Debra is a popular blogger and writer whose words and wisdom are embraced by readers around the world. She is a frequent guest contributor to Aspire Magazine and other high-profile blogs. Aspire Magazine Publisher Linda Joy calls Debra the Ambassador of Love and shared, “Debra’s writing and words hold a powerful vibrational energy… and that energy is LOVE.”
To know more about Debra, visit her website www.debrareble.com.