Each and every one of us could likely do with letting go of something. Whether it's a past hurt, a toxic habit or a reoccurring vision for the future that will never happen. In order for us to live the life that we have right here, right now, we need to let go of everything that is getting in the way.
At the core of most of the issues that destroy our health and happiness is the distorted concept of perfectionism. We live in an age when our lives and our bodies should be photo-shoot-worthy at all times. Any less and we don't just fail to measure up. We become a sort of sad joke.
It is this idea that Emma Woolf discusses in her book, Letting Go.
Drawing from her own personal take on perfectionism and how, in part, it took on the form of anorexia, Emma casts her mind back to various poignant moments in her life (both pre- and post-recovery) and by doing so is able to cast a spotlight on the acidic, eroding power of negative self-talk; thoughts of low self-esteem and the unrelenting need to keep up with the Jones'.
Emma's overall message is abundantly clear: you are enough!
As well as the candidly open and generous use of anecdotes, Emma's awareness and depiction of the way that we all find fault with ourselves, and how it is akin to an ingrained and totally unacceptable form of self-abuse, is powerful.
This, as Emma points out, is why perfectionism must go.
We must not adorn ourselves with the false veil anymore. Rip it off. Burn it. Leave it out for the fox to eat.
Emma touches on many key issues relating to modern womanhood in this book, so there's something we can all relate to no matter what life-stage we're at: career progression; the idea of a 'life-blueprint'; food and female appetites; body-image; fertility and older mothers; online dating and social networking. This really is a book for any woman, young or old, engaged with today's society - perhaps looking for a way to let all the juggling-balls drop with a lovely loud thud.
Of all the interesting topics that make up this book, I'd really like to highlight society's twisted obsession with what it means to be 'healthy'.
Whether we are aware of it or not, restrictive diets force us to focus on a lot of stuff that doesn't matter, and can soon take over all the stuff that does matter. That's why, Emma's guidance for everyone to look after themselves with routine, regular balanced meals and early nights, is something we'd all do well to observe because none of us are above these things.
It's not about getting validation or permission, not that there is anything wrong with seeking such things. But hearing Emma's stance on these fundamentals, from a place of authenticity, helps. It helps me feel grounded in my choice to respect my need for sleep, nourishment and solitude. It helps me to remember how crucial it is to unplug and put myself first sometimes. It helps me to say no.
We can all appreciate that life, by its very nature, is imperfect. In reality, no one has a perfect life. What is 'perfect' anyway? It's actually impossible to draw comparisons between unique individuals and their lives. After all, one girl's tragedy is another's holiday.
Accepting imperfection, cherishing the present moment, and appreciating the good times, or even the bad times, if that is the current reality, is exactly how, according to Emma, we "get through life with meaning and grace."
Emma isn't smug about her enlightenment. Instead, she's a sisterly cheerleader. Letting go serves as a reminder to us all to stop buying into the nonsense. It encourages us to ask questions and seek answers. Real ones.
It's for this specific reason that no matter whether the reader is a man or a woman, or how our life experience dictates any deep understanding on these matters, it is absolutely worth a read because these issues will affect everyone in some way - be it for a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter or a friend.
Letting Go is a book that nudges the reader to softly take a hard inward look and find the abundant happiness that sits within each of us. This is why Emma's book deserves a permanent space in the home library, whether that's a whole room or a single shelf. Because without doubt there will be someone you know that could do with reading this.
So, even if that's not you, then please pass it on. Just make a note to remember it for when you do.
Letting Go by Emma Woolf is published by Summersdale Publishers