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Letting Go of Your Rocks

By Rebecca Johnson

Letting-of-your-rocksDo you ever contemplate the burdens you carry around that may be keeping you stuck? I recently learned about an interesting exercise designed to help us take a symbolic but powerful step toward letting those burdens go. It’s called “Letting Go of Your Rock.” It can be done in many settings, but it’s especially powerful in a group of people together for healing or transformation of some sort.

For this activity, each participant is given a stone. There’s a basket in the center of the room. One at a time, each person walks to the basket saying, “I am letting go of…” and drops their rock in the basket. Participants can say what they are letting go of out loud or to themselves.

Many of the things that people let go of are not actually “things” at all, but rather beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are not serving them well. Fear. Hurt. Perfectionism. Resentment. Critical self-talk. And so on…

My Rocks

This got me thinking about how the beliefs, thoughtd, feelings, and behaviors that keep us stuck in cycles of problematic eating, body dissatisfaction, or preoccupation with weight and appearance, or any other troubling patterns are like rocks—big, heavy rocks that we carry around every single day.  They weigh us down, sap our energy, limit our freedom, and prevent us from living the lives we really want.

When I was struggling with food and body issues, my personal rocks included, among others:

  • Belief rocks: My value as a human being is dependent on what my body looks like. I have to eat and exercise rigidly in order to prevent weight gain. When I gain weight, I have been “bad.”
  • Feeling rocks: Fear. Anxiety. Guilt.
  • Behavior rocks: Obsessively counting calories and measuring foods. Exercising rigidly to “prevent weight gain” or to pay penance for eating choices.

As I reflect back on my transformation into a more joyful existence free of my food and body struggles, I realize that it happened because I let go of these rocks and others that were keeping me stuck. Over time, one by one, I was able to observe my rocks objectively, recognize how heavy and limiting they were, and drop them in the basket.

Like most important and meaningful transformations, my journey from food and body jail to freedom didn’t happen quickly or in dramatic once-and-for-all fashion. It took practice, patience, and the determination to keep doing the inner work. For sure there were times when, as a result of fear, habit, or mindlessness, I went back to the basket and picked up a rock I’d previously let go. But when I did, I carried that old rock for less time and eventually dropped it in the basket again with more certainty… until one day, I realized that I hadn’t picked up that particular rock – or any of my food and body rocks – for a very long time.

What are your food and body rocks? Can you label a specific belief, thought, feeling, or behavior that is keeping you stuck? If only just to experiment with how it feels not to carry it around, is there a rock you’d like to let go of today?


About the author

Rebecca Johnson is a leader in the health promotion industry with more than 20 years of experience in diverse roles. She is a licensed Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Program Facilitator and Coach and advocates for the use of mindfulness-based and weight-neutral programs in the workplace. Rebecca also serves as a consultant for organizations ready to leverage the power of organizational development and employee wellbeing to create truly thriving cultures.


  1. alayna says:

    I like the idea of freeing all the things that weigh you down because it is the first step to moving on. Letting go of your rocks and having patience, practice, and determination for moving one. I will use this method as a way to help myself and move on.

  2. Hi Rebecca,
    Thank you for this post. You’re right, we hold on to so much. The exercise you shared here sounds like it’d be powerful. My own experience at the moment while overcoming Hypothalamic Amenorrhea and Anorexia is that I have to let go of the beliefs where they are sourced – not only the accompanying behaviour of “grasping” so hard to things like: safe foods, exercise, coffee, or practicing habits of numbing and escapism.

    Being present plays a huge role in letting go of the beliefs behind these habits, because when I am present and aware, I don’t buy into my mind’s games of beliefs of: unworthiness, insufficiency, and the resulting guilt and penance. The grasping onto these supposed comfort inducing numbing habits is a false escape and blanket to the present moment and circumstances of the Now.

    I like the exercise you shared, and thank you for the reminder to let go and let be.

    Thank you,

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