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You Need to Let Go to Move Forward

By Jodi Cohen

A joyful moment captured with a woman and young boy smiling brightly in a cozy room.

When I don’t know what to do, I often do nothing.

I stay stuck in the freeze response.  Paralyzed by the fear that in moving forward or trying to make something better, I will somehow do it wrong or make it worse.   My brain projects the “better the devil you know (than the devil you don’t)” anticipatory fear on the unknown future and I rationalize that it is wiser to stay in the familiar job, situation or relationship than to “rock the boat” and make a change.

Paralysis fueled by anticipatory stress kept me stuck for a long time.

This week I was forced to rip off the band aid.  We had ordered a home exercise bike when the stay at home orders were initially announced and it was finally being delivered which meant, I needed to figure out where it would live in the house.  I knew that the easier it was to access, the more likely we were to use it, so I didn’t want to hide it in the basement or place it in our communal living spaces like the living room or the sunroom.  My son Max’s room was the most obvious choice.  It was on the same level as our bedrooms and the showers. We could literally roll out of bed to exercise.   But that meant cleaning out Max’s room, or as my daughter affectionately called it “Max’s shrine”.

Max was killed in a car accident on August 27, 2018.  And in the almost 2 years since his death, I had done very little to clean out his room.  In the early days after the accident when his friends would stop by to offer their condolences, I would encourage them to take something that reminded them of Max.  Many took clothing or a piece of his artwork (he was a gifted illustrator), but beyond that, the room remained relatively untouched, a literal time capsule of life pre-August 2018.   When we missed him, we would sit on his bed, hug his teddy bear and cry, but beyond that it was never used, even by visiting house guests, because as my daughter likes to joke, “no one wants to sleep in the dead kid’s room.”

Emotional Resistance to Letting Go

So it was time.  I knew what I needed to do.  The technical mechanics of sorting through his personal items and deciding what to donate and what to keep and breaking down and donating his furniture where obvious, but the emotional resistance I incurred was not.  It’s like so many things with our health.  We know that if we eat more vegetables and less processed food, our health will improve, but we often self-sabotage for emotional reasons.

I was truly ill prepared for the emotional intensity of deconstructing his bed.  The bed where I would lie next to him and read him bedtime stories.  Where we would snuggle and talk about his day.  Where I would comfort him in the middle of the night if he had a bad dream.  Where I would find him, lights on, reading in the middle of the night.

So many memories were attached to that room, his furniture, his things.   Everything contains energy, including physical items like clothing, books and furniture.  This is one reason that decluttering or the magic of tidying up is so powerful and healing.  It moves, shifts and releases stuck energy.  You then need to allow that stuck energy to process through and release from your body and that is the hard part.  It’s intense.  And uncomfortable.  And physically painful.  And there is no playbook on how to move through it.

This is where I believe many of us shut down, give up and self sabotage.  When we don’t know what to do, we often do nothing.

That was honestly my first temptation when the waves of grief overwhelmed me.  To give up.  But the pressing deadline of the Peloton delivery forced me to keep going.  I had to figure out my way through.


Strategies to Let Go to Move Forward

So I took a nature break.  I applied Lung Support over my lungs to support the release of grief and sadness over my lungs and Rose Blend over my heart and took a very long walk through the local woods with my dog.  I let myself shake as I discharged the intense emotions.

It’s interesting to note that animals in the wild often shake after a danger has passed to allow their body to shift from the danger response “fight or flight” sympathetic state into the parasympathetic “rest and digest” state.  I always carry Parasympathetic blend in my pocket, so I applied some of that to the vagus nerve (behind the earlobe on the mastoid bone) and it seemed to assist in my emotional reset and just allowed myself to breathe and shake and release all of the grief and sadness associated with cleaning out Max’s room.  I called friends to help me process the concept that moving forward does not mean leaving him behind.   That letting go of his physical possessions does not mean letting him go.  That honoring his memory goes beyond keeping his material possessions.  That I can continue to carry him in my heart and honor him in new ways, like dedicating his room to maintaining our health.

This is truthfully the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and I’ve run two marathons, birthed two children, started a company and navigated a messy divorce.  Painful emotions are intense.  They can be paralyzing.  But they don’t have to be.  Essential oils and flower essences (like Bach Rescue Remedy) help calm emotional intensity and make hard things more manageable.

I know this is an incredibly challenging time on our planet and so many of you are moving through really hard and intense emotional challenges.  My hope in sharing my own journey with you is that the tools that helped me might help you as well.

I detail many of the oils that help support you in moving through anger, grief, fear, guilt and shame here.

Letting go, while intense and painful, is a critical first step to moving forward.  If you ever watch a child on the monkey bars (both my kids LOVED the monkey bars), you need to physically let go of the bar behind you in order to grab onto the next bar and move forward.  We often get stuck and unable to move forward when we hang on to emotions like anger, fear, shame, guilt or grief.  The current state of the world is forcing all of us to let go of many previously enjoyed activities and thought patterns.  It is not easy and hard not to fall into a state of resistance, anger and fear.  After all, change is uncertain and therefore scary.  But change also offers opportunity.

My good friend Dr. Debi Silber compares the experience of unexpected change to your house being destroyed by a natural disaster.  You are absolutely justified to feel sad and angry looking at the rubble, but at a certain point, you have to decide to rebuild.  And when you rebuild, you can make an even better house than the one you lost.  Please do not get me wrong.  I would give anything for one more day, hour or minute with Max. My life as his mother is no longer an option.  But I have other options – like improving my physical health – which I can choose to rebuild in a better way.  And sharing my journey, in the hopes that it makes your journey slightly easier.

MVI_9382 from Vibrant Blue Oils on Vimeo.


Essential Oils to Let Go to Move Forward

The oils that I recommend for letting go include:

For releasing shock, trauma and intense waves of griefParasympathetic, Adrenal® (especially for panic attacks), Rose™, Lung Support™.

For Anger:   Liver Support™ allows you to release anger, blame and shame that are often stored on very deep cellular level. Just place the bottle under your nose and breathe deeply, fully inhaling the oil for 3 – 7 breaths, then slowly exhaling while intentionally releasing the anger.  It helps you breathe into and work through the emotion.  You will know that the essential oil for blame is working when you stop smelling it.  You can also topically apply 2- 3 drops of Liver Support™ over your liver (right side of the body under the breast) to help work through and release your anger and boost resilience.  You can also apply it around the ankles as this is often an area where we hold resistance to moving forward in life and block the ability to receive joy and pleasure.  Start at the back of the ankle and apply under the ankle bone around to the front and back under the other ankle bone, all while allowing yourself to release your anger.  Read More about Releasing Anger with Essential Oils HERE.

For Fear:  More than any other emotion, it is fear that keeps you stuck.  Fear activates your stress response with anxious or fearful thoughts triggering the release of stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline.  Your body has a relaxation response which is the counterbalance to the fear response known as the parasympathetic nervous system where you can release your fear, allowing your body to return to balance.  To help trigger the body’s natural parasympathetic response, you can apply Parasympathetic® blend on the vagal nerve (behind ear lobe on mastoid bone).  When your body is relaxed in the parasympathetic state, your fear response often subsides.

Other oils to help modulate the body’s stress response to fear include the Hypothalamus™  (apply over the third eye) and Adrenal® blend either smelled or applied over the adrenals (back of the body one fist up from the bottom rib).  Finally, fear is often associated with your kidneys.  Kidney Support™, when applied over your kidneys (one inch up and out from belly button), back of neck, or around the outside of earlobes, can help dispel fear, and assist you in feeling safe.

For Grief: Emotionally and physically, your lungs and your large intestine help you release and “let go” of whatever you don’t need.  This includes both intense emotions and metabolic waste. Feelings of grief, bereavement, regret, loss, remorse can obstruct ability of the lungs to accept and relinquish, impeding their function of “taking in” and “letting go”.   Lung Support™ helps you release grief when topically applied over the lungs.  You can also inhale the oil the oil through the nose, letting the oxygen flow deeply into the lungs, then exhale or apply directly over the lungs.

Your large intestine lets go of those things that don’t serve you.  Physically, it lets go of waste after your upper digestive system has taken all the necessary nutrients out of the food you eat.  Emotionally, it allows you to let go of patterns of negative thinking, destructive emotions, and spiritual blockages that prevent us from being our best. Apply Large Intestine Support™ over the large intestine, around the ears or on the bottom of the feet to help you let go of past hurts.

For Guilt:  Guilt turns blame inward, a concept known as self-blame, where you attribute any negative outcome to a personal short-coming or deficiency.  Guilt also has to do with control.  You may like to believe that things should go your way and when they do not, you feel guilty about it. Heart™ applied over your physical heart (left side of chest) or on the back of the neck helps amplify feelings of self-love and gratitude, helping to balance and heal feelings of guilt.

For Shame:  Shame results when you receive negative messages from others, leading you to believe that you are bad, defective, or unworthy and somehow helpless to change that deficit. Poor boundaries are correlated with shame, especially when you believe you lack the power, skill, knowledge, or capability to manage the expectations of others and continually seek validation through serving their needs and wants.  Not surprisingly, your body holds shame in your digestive system, primarily the small intestine which is also associated with boundaries. Small Intestine Support™ may help you support positive boundaries. I find it best to apply in a clockwise direction around the belly button or massaged into your ears for emotion related issues.  You can start on the bottom of the ear at the earlobes and gentle massage upward along the exterior of the ear, hitting many of the major reflexology points.  This article and chart show specific points on the ears for specific issues.  Bladder Support™ is another excellent blend for releasing shame, especially any shame related to sexual assault.


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About The Author

Jodi Cohen

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.