My Dad has been resisting moving into a care home for years. He couldn’t let go of the world he created, even if it was less and less comfortable to be in. Last summer he couldn’t look after himself anymore. We, his daughters, took the tough decision to overrule his judgment. My youngest sister moved mountains and found a very good place for him.
Ever since, we have been faced with the task to empty the house, for it to be sold. Dismantling my father’s life, so interwoven with our own, is a painful process. We’re taking it slowly.
The other day I found the suitcase you see in the picture. When I opened it, its musty smell brought back feelings of excitement and adventure. Flashes came back of childhood holidays, all of us – 3 children and whichever pet came with us – packed in the back of a car during the long drives to warmer regions. Of disembarking in places that felt exotic, even if it was just a French farmer’s field, to spend blissful days of playing.
But the fact that the suitcase is in my father’s house also means he took it to move out when my parents separated. Even though that’s more than 30 years ago, there was a hint of heartache too, when I saw it again. I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away. Not yet.
I realised that the beliefs we hold about ourselves are a lot like this old, dilapidated suitcase. A belief system contains our childhood experiences, some good, some painful. As we grow older, it often no longer seerves us, but it represents the implicit or explicit memories of what have made us into who we are. It contains the strategies we needed as a child, to make our journey of life comfortable. Letting go of it is hard, even if we want to.
I’m a strong believer in the saying that every ending is a new beginning. This implies that what looks like an end, actually feeds the new start. It’s like nature, where plants shed their leaves before winter, but all this plant material starts rotting and becomes the food for the new expression of life in spring.
There are times in a human life when it’s healthy to let go of old beliefs and patterns in order to enable the fostering of a new mindset and to grow.
Some people in my Dad’s care home can’t get used to the change. One lady tends to linger around the exit. Each time I leave after visiting my Dad, she begs: ‘I need to go home. Can I come with you?’ My Dad, however, has discovered that he can be happy without most of his belongings, his big, lonely house and huge garden. Painful as it was to let go, he did move on. Now, being surrounded by people who look after him daily, has even given him a second wind of life.
‘I feel so much lighter,’ is what my clients often say when they let go of their suitcase full of old beliefs and habits. It actually makes them feel closer to who they really are. This gives them the courage to pursue what they really are capable of, focus on clear priorities and goals, and do what makes them feel happy and fulfilled.
If you feel like you’ve been dragging an old suitcase for too long, book a free call to explore how I can help you unload some of its content and open new doors.