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November 17, 2021

Fall Reminds Us About the Importance of Letting Go

Written by Dr. Gia Marson

How will you take advantage of letting go to make way for new things to come?

While the shifting of seasons brings many changes to our physical world, it can also spark change in our personal lives. We often feel this most acutely with fall, as the hot, bright, long days of summer give way to short, crisp, orange-hued ones.

So as Thanksgiving decorations, the scent of pumpkin spice, and beautiful autumn colors pop up, so too can feelings of reflection and change. The start of fall provides a great opportunity to take stock of our lives and decide what to let go of.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
—James Baldwin

The Change That Fall Brings

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”
—F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fall isn’t just about the changing of the leaves; it can also be about changing our lives. Research has found that people tend to look to make healthy changes during this time, increasing their interest in diet and exercise.

I hope you won’t begin a diet—because dieting can be harmful—but I do hope you’ll add a variety of foods to benefit your gut biome, create plates that are the colors of the rainbow for your overall health, and find time for joyful movement.

While you might hold on to situations, belongings, or relationships for too long, there may be times when you seek change without regard for what’s working well. As you take inventory, pay attention to what you honor and hold on to.

“Always keep an eye on the tiny epic moments… little rays of sunlight that the world offers you if only you are aware. To pull you out of rough times, but in good times they are silently there, too.”
—Virginia Woolf

Celebrate what’s here to stay, such as your supportive family, your close friends, and even yourself. Reflect on who has been there for you this past year, and consider ways to show appreciation. Be sure to include yourself, and celebrate the small successes you’ve made.

How to Decide What to Let Go Of

“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.”
—Eckhart Tolle

Perhaps the biggest reminder autumn brings is the natural act of letting go. Just as trees shed their leaves, letting go is part of the cycle that makes way for something new. Yet, it can be difficult to know exactly what to get rid of. Putting away your summer wardrobe and breaking out your scarves and sweaters is one small letting-go step that can jump-start your confidence to tackle other areas in your life that you need to sort through.

Whether you’re concerned about a relationship, a job, habits, or even that box of junk you’re storing, here are some signs to look out for to help you decide if it’s time to let go.

  • It makes you upset. If a person, role, or a habit leaves you feeling upset or anxious, then maybe it’s toxic. Letting go of distressing situations or patterns can help reduce stress in your life (literally de-stressing) and open up space in your life to breathe, relax, and imagine something new. Whether it’s your cluttered garage that makes you feel frustrated or a friend that leaves you feeling invalidated, identify what may be bringing down your mood.
  • It’s destructive. Behaviors like procrastination, sabotaging relationships, or perfectionism may not only leave you feeling upset but could be destructive to your personal and professional life. Taking stock and letting go of the destructive elements of your life can start you heading into the new season more effective, successful, and happier.
  • It’s not productive. Don’t waste a new season on behaviors or projects that don’t offer you anything in return. You may be holding on to a grudge that’s getting you nowhere, being too self-critical, or wasting hours scrolling mindlessly on social media. Create a strategy that supports you to spend your time on the things that make you happy and actually do something good for you.

“People usually think that progress consists in the increase of knowledge, in the improvement of life, but that isn’t so. Progress consists only in the greater clarification of answers to the basic questions of life. The truth is always accessible… because a man’s soul is a divine spark, the truth itself. It’s only a matter of removing from this divine spark, everything that obscures it. Progress consists, not in the increase of truth, but in freeing it from its wrappings. The truth is obtained like gold, not by letting it grow bigger, but by washing off everything that isn’t gold.”
—Leo Tolstoy

Have Faith in Your Decisions

Taking the leap and letting go of people, habits, projects, and feelings can be difficult. Dealing with endings, change, and new beginnings requires a flexible, growth mindset. You might feel grief or longing for an experience or relationship that you let go of, even if you wanted it to end.

Patterns and routines can be hard to drop, and transitioning out of them requires reorganization and faith. It may help to remember how the endings you have gone through before have led to something new. Notice the space you’ve made.

“There is a divine order, a divine flow to our lives. We don’t need to have all the answers. But our job is to keep on trusting enough to put one foot in front of the other.”
—Elaine Welteroth

Once you let go, ask yourself, “How do I want to grow?”


Kamiński, M., Kręgielska-Narożna, M., & Bogdański, P. (2021). Seasonal variation in lifestyle behavior in Poland: Google searches and market sales analysis. BMC Public Health 21, 1516.

Vough, H. C., Bataille, C. D., Noh, S. C., & Lee, M. D. (2015). Going off-script: How managers make sense of the ending of their careers. Journal of Management Studies, 52(3), 414–440. doi:10.1111/joms.12126

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