The Grieving Process of Letting Go of the Former Self

Breaking Up with the “Self”

Break ups in life occur in many forms, and when thinking of the term “break up” the common associations tend to be in relation to romantic relationships, friendships, or perhaps breaking away from a job/career. But how often do you “break up with yourself?”

Most of us have likely done something like this in varying degrees. Whether you think of it that way or not is entirely up to you, but effectively every time that you reinvent yourself in some capacity, you’re “breaking up” with an aspect of yourself, at least energetically speaking. In other words, you no longer identify with that version of you. Even though at the same time, it is still part of the whole you. Confusing, right?

Sometimes it’s little things such as a small habit change or expanding your comfort zone a little bit by trying something new. And those things can definitely lead to what would eventually look like a much different identity over time.

But what I want to dive into has more to do with the energetic aspects of attachment that creates an identity within the self that we think is us but may not truly be us (on a soul level at least), and why our attachments eventually cause us the pain we feel when it’s time to let go.

Whichever way you slice it, breakups generally aren’t part of life’s most joyful moments. Despite the pains and heartbreaks that occur, in the end it tends to be extremely liberating in many instances. This usually won’t feel like it or be apparent in the initial stages or in the midst of it, but in the end, I would say most people would agree that it ended up being for the best.

The Stories We Create

In general, we create stories for ourselves about “who we are” in relation to all aspects of life as we grow up through the years. Any belief you have around ANYTHING is a story that you either choose to believe or you don’t, and will continue to be part of your identity for as long as that belief lives in your mind.

Open book with pen on blank paper

So for example, if you’re in conversation with someone and you often end up saying that “I’m no good for anyone” or “money is the root of all evil” or “candy corn is the worst candy” (I think there are worse candies, but to each their own 😅)…these are all just beliefs that you carry.

Some of your beliefs stem from your own personal direct life experiences, but many of these could have also been instilled within you over the years from the world around you without giving it a second thought (watching the news/media, through entertainment, opinions from friends and family, etc).

After all, our subconscious operates a whopping 90-95% of our thought processes on the daily, according to neuroscientists.

Now some of these judgments may be trivial and harmless (such as the candy corn example), but either way, they’re all examples of beliefs you may carry.

It’s when those “bigger” judgments/opinions become installed into your personal operating system and end up keeping you stuck in a perpetual loop of complacency, fear, or discontent that it can eventually take a bigger toll on your quality of life.

Going back to the first example, if you always say to others or to yourself that “you’re no good for anyone,” chances are you’re going to attract people into your life that resonate with that vibration, or you’ll attract situations into your life that will reinforce that belief; continuously creating a loop that “makes that belief true for you.”

At some point, you may snap out of it or have a more intense experience that jars you out of that thinking, but in general, your outer reality is a reflection of the culmination of beliefs that you hold within your personal energy field.

Having the “I’m not good for anyone” belief on its own can really affect multiple areas of your life, let alone all the other beliefs that we carry to coincide with it.

Diving even deeper into this, based on your choices or experiences in your life to this point (lifestyle, relationships, friendships, hobbies, cultural beliefs or traditions, etc), all add up to how you probably tend to identify yourself. Comingle all of this with your current belief system, and voila! There’s “you.”

A “you” that is currently maneuvering around in the world with this blueprint you’ve created for yourself. We’re creatures of habit, so we create lifestyles and routines and choose directions in our life or things we like based on informational or feeling inputs gathered over time, or within the present moment.

Sometimes though, these choices are filling a void. They bring comfort and happiness, and maybe for a time it was truly needed in order to tend to an inner wound.

But eventually the timer runs out on that being for our highest good. Because that object, pattern, food, (you name it) brought us comfort, a part of ourselves may attach to it and it may feel painful and scary to let go of that comfort when it’s time to move forward.

Nourishing the Wounds of the Inner Child

Lots of lightbulb moments, I’ll tell ya that!

For example, maybe at a specific age in your life, you had a rough romantic experience or a part of you never felt seen, heard, or felt loved in the way that you would’ve wanted in that moment in time. If that was emotionally painful for you and was never truly dealt with or released, it is possible that you seek another outside source to comfort that wound that you may not even know is there, even if it happened 20 years ago.

To give a personal example in my own life, I didn’t realize until about 5 years ago that I was carrying wounds around some sort of experience in relation to love or intimacy. There were aspects of myself that were seeking someone or something else to fulfill an inner void (unbeknownst to me).

As someone who is able to put myself into the world of others (empath), or when watching movies (I can really get emotionally integrated in the things I’m watching), I was finding a lot of solace in movies I would watch.

If I deemed a movie “good enough” and it brought on enough emotional comfort or happiness within, my first thoughts after watching it were often “I want to buy that.” (again, I wasn’t aware at the time why that was a pattern).

Now, technically there is nothing wrong with buying or collecting things if that floats your boat, but for me, I noticed after a certain period of time why I was doing it. Once I had that realization, and had amassed a collection of probably 150-200 discs (I don’t exactly remember the total), I slowly began to realize that it was attached to something deeper (and have since resold a good chunk of those physical discs).

Once some of those inner wounds were recognized or brought to the surface and I had a deeper understanding of what I found in movies as being so fulfilling for me, I basically stopped purchasing at the rate that I was (and actually, I think it’s been a year or two since I actually have purchased one at all). I also feel the massive rise in streaming has played a role in that, but either way, it has shifted for me.

On top of that, I also found myself in a short-term relationship about 5 years ago that really mirrored aspects of my inner self that were codependent energetically, and I wasn’t aware of that until I felt that energy in the relationship mirrored back to me through someone else.

Lots of lightbulb moments, I’ll tell ya that!

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy movies and mentally stimulating stories, and sometimes it does help me realize certain things or helps me feel through feelings, but I know I try not to attach to the them like I used to.

So what does this have to do with healing the “wounded inner child?”

Because at some point in my life experience (in this example), a wound occurred that I have/may still carry in some respect. As life continues on, circumstances come up where that wound essentially gets “triggered.”

So if there is an aspect of myself that is afraid to be intimate, a romantic opportunity coming into my life could potentially set off that trigger that got integrated into my mind and body when I was 16 or something (I’m riffing here on the age), making the new situation feel uncertain, even if the person would actually be good for my energy or life experience, and isn’t a “threat” at all.

In order to move through that trigger (which can potentially make us feel a slew of feelings ranging from anxiety, to fear, or physical bodily reactions from those fears), the wound has to be healed. You have to rebuild trust within yourself somehow; fully feeling the feelings that come up, and eventually taking a chance that will reprogram your mind and transcend that wound.

You need to listen to and honor the self that got hurt when you were 16 because it wants to be heard and honored and felt.

And as those “old aspects of self” are transcended and released, you begin to create new identities and outlooks of what’s possible for you. The blinders come off. The triggers are gone, and you suddenly feel lighter, brighter, and more open to allow opportunity in.

Embracing Uncertainty

So why do we “hang on” so tightly? Scratching, clawing, yelling, screaming, punching, or throwing a fit on the inside, even if we’ve logically and consciously identified that a way of being that we know we’ve outgrown in some respect is no longer the best for us…why is it so damn hard for some of us to make a change?

I think in simple terms and as I mentioned earlier, humans are generally drawn to comfort. It can be difficult for us to wrap our heads around stepping into the unknown.

We feel like we NEED answers. We need to know that an outcome is going to be safe, positive for us, or bring us joy and abundance. A part of us craves that reassurance before taking the risk.

Neon pink glowing question mark

Looking for a nice little self-help guide to find some clarity in your life? Check out my “IDK WTF to do with my life” mini guide!

Unfortunately though, I feel it rarely works like that.

What I do feel though is that the universe/God/your intuition will give you winks along the way if you’ve made a declaration/choice/intention and hold that in mind over a relatively consistent period of time. These winks can be in the form of angel numbers (11:11, 222, 777, 888, etc), certain songs or lines of dialogue that resonate for you as they come up, or opportunities coming out of left field that you never even searched for.

Sometimes this guidance could be a “no” as well. And I feel the best way to decipher these things is to pay attention to the signs you’re getting in conjunction with the feelings that are coming up inside in each present moment.

I understand how difficult this can be though if you deal with anxiety or have a highly-sensitive system because sometimes the feelings that come up in the body are just old traumas, which could make the signal feel negative even if it’s not a true “no” (I definitely know what this is like).

You have free will, and you don’t necessarily have to take that leap into the uncertain. But I can almost guarantee you that there’s only so much agony you’re willing to deal with before you shift.

Are you going to take another job that will probably lead to the same outcome or lesson you’ve already faced? Are you going to get into another relationship with another person that carries many of the same energies as the last? Are you going to say “YES!” to the adventure that is possible for your life, or are you going to stay in complacency?

And I get it. I’m not one that tends to make bigger decisions very quickly. But what I have learned is that the quicker that I’m able to choose or declare a certain intention or direction, the more quickly I begin to realize if said intention is good for me or not. This could be through the feelings I have as the process moves along, or perhaps from things that happen from the external that draw my attention to something potentially better.

I’m not saying everything shows up right away or in the way that we expect, but learn to be deciphering, maintain as much excitement within yourself as possible, follow what truly feels good, and see what shows up for you.

As the old Latin proverb states, “Fortune favors the brave.”

Letting Go and Choosing Your Best Route

Again, the grieving process is not usually clear cut and dry. Getting to know yourself and getting comfortable in your own skin, energy, and authenticity is a process, and one that waxes and wanes.

Letting go of the old version of you doesn’t mean you have to let go of every facet, every interest, or physical thing in your life right here and now. Some aspects will come with you, some you’ll let go of and bring back later, and other things you’ll let go of permanently.

But from personal experience, the more I detach to what no longer serves and what doesn’t resonate, the lighter I feel. I also tend to feel more focused, and it also allows me to be present in this now moment more easily as well.

And just like all of you, I don’t have it “all figured out.” I absolutely struggle through big decisions and am sometimes terrified of making a mistake.

Start small if you need to, and work your way up to bigger decisions over time. But even if a big decision shows up at your doorstep all of the sudden, know that you’re capable of being resourceful and finding your way through it.

It will take practice and commitment to letting go of the situations that you want to cling to in relation to a comfortable version of you that you’ve created, but if you can find yourself saying less “what ifs” later on in life, I think you’ll be happier with yourself once that time comes.

Evolving right along with you,



P.S.: If you find it difficult for you to bring yourself to the present or calm your energy, consider trying out my sunset ocean guided meditation (a “Pay as You Wish” offering!) to help you come back to the now, ease your mind, and reset your energy!

Or if you want to take things a step further and get some in-depth, 1-on-1 guidance with me about jumpstarting into new versions of you for the way you want to live, work, and be in this ever-changing world, sign-up for a Conscious Creation Session here!


Corey is a freelance creative and spiritual explorer, coach, and consultant who enjoys deep conversation, excavating for deeper meanings in the universe, and uplifting others by helping them thrive in their own lives. He loves inspiring through writing or creating content, but also revels in the arts in its many forms.

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DISCLAIMER: I am not a licensed therapist, practitioner, doctor, or lawyer. Any advice given that is potentially related to legal, therapeutic or medical professions is all in good faith, but should not be taken as professional advice. I speak from my experiences in hopes that it will help you and others take steps to create a better life. Please see the full disclaimer here for more information.

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