Let Go & Have a Good-Riddance Party

Let Go & Have a Good-Riddance Party

Carolyn Purnell
Mar 20, 2015

We're several months into the new year, and many of us have given up on New Years' resolutions, gotten caught up in the swing of normal life, and have let some of the holiday cheer and optimism recede. I'm here to tell you that this is perfectly fine—and in fact, it might even be a reason to celebrate.

Big or small, most of us tend to have regrets. We're hard on ourselves for the things that we let slip, the failures we encounter, or the opportunities that we miss. Living in that sea of "what could have been" or "what I should have done" will get you nowhere, but knowing that it's better to move forward than to look back may be easier said than done.

In Mrs. Sharp's Traditions, Sarah Ban Breathnach discusses the Victorian tradition of having a "good-riddance party," and it seems like a perfect ritual for getting a fresh start.

Gather together with your loved ones. Set up a nice atmosphere saturated with joy: warmth, music, candles, good food, anything that will put you at ease. Distribute small slips of paper to each attendee, and take some time to privately write down all the regrets, failed resolutions, and worries that you have lingering from the last year. Didn't take that job and wonder whether it was the right decision? Write it down. Forgot to call your grandmother on her birthday? Write it down. Resolved to exercise more and let that resolve lapse? Write it down. It doesn't matter whether it's big or small. What matters is that it's still tugging at your brain.

Gather together over a fire (it's almost spring—grill time is near!) and collectively watch them burn. (If you don't have access to a safe fire option, you could use water-soluble markers to write your regrets and then drown them in the bathtub. Or distribute lots of scissors and go to town.) As you watch them go up in flames, give yourself permission to truly let them go. And give the people around you permission to let go as well. Being surrounded by love and joy in a judgment-free zone can really help one process the sour feelings that can hound us far more than they should.

And then? Celebrate! Those worries, fears, and regrets are gone, and the future is clear ahead. Dance, eat, converse, or hug it out. Whatever you need to be happy, do it. You can always make new resolutions. In fact, you most assuredly will. And you most assuredly will fail at some of them. That's perfectly all right. Failure is not something that we should fear, and it's certainly nothing to get hung up on. Let it go and say good riddance.

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