This comes close to being the most difficult topic I’ve had to research and write about. Not only because it’s one of my own personal weaknesses but because it’s not easy to implement in our lives, I should know...I’m constantly trying.
What Letting Go Is Not
Letting go of an ideal, thought, or experience is not some laisse-faire, woo-woo thing. Letting go often takes work on our part and requires us to do some introspection about what’s true and what we’re actually attached to. Neither is letting go the same as moving on without doing the work or simply forgetting about an important life-changing event or experience.
Another important aspect to recognize about letting go is that it’s not the same as forgiving someone who has wronged you. Forgiveness is an important aspect of wholehearted living, and it’s separate from letting go of attachments that keep you from becoming the incredible individual the world needs you to be.
Letting Go Is a Work in Progress
Begin the practice of letting go by noticing the small ways in which you let attachment create unhappiness in your life. Learning to let go of the things that are not serving you will free up energy and resources and you will begin to reap the benefits of a grateful, joyful life.
8 Effective Ways to Let Go and Move On
Written by Marc Chernoff
“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.” Ann Landers
You are changing. The universe around you is changing. Just because something was right for you in the past doesn’t mean it still is. This could be a relationship, a job, a home, a habit, etc. It happens to you slowly as you grow. So you cherish all the memories, but find yourself letting go and moving on. If you’re currently dealing with this process you may feel a bit awkward, and that’s OK. This feeling is normal.
Reasons to Let Go and Move On
Someone’s negativity is rubbing off on you. You are the average of the people you spend the most time with. Who you spend your time with has a great impact on the person you are and the person you become. If you are around cynical and negative people all the time, you will become cynical and negative.
You have grown apart from someone. Sad but true, no matter what you do or how much you explain yourself, some people will gradually evolve away from your core values. As time goes on they will prove over and over again that they are committed to misunderstanding you and clashing with your needs.
You are truly unhappy with your current circumstances. It’s always better to be struggling at something you love than succeeding diligently at something you despise.
Your goals and needs have changed. What was right for you then is not necessarily right for you now. Sometimes the hardest part isn’t letting go but rather realizing that you have changed, and then learning to start over with your new truth.
Fear is holding you back. Part of letting go and moving on is facing the fears and disappointments of the past that are binding your spirit.
You catch yourself living in the past. If all you do is attempt to relive something that has already happened, you’re missing out. The mental space you create by letting go of things that are already behind you gives you the ability to fill the space with something fresh and fun.
An old grudge is still hurting you. Holding on to the weight of anger, resentment and hatred will not only hold you back, but also block your present blessings and opportunities. You’ve just got to drop some things to move forward.
You aren’t learning anything new. Living is learning. All positive change is the end result of learning. If you aren’t learning, you’re simply dying slowly.
Ways to Let Go and Move On
Holding on is like believing that there’s only a past; letting go and moving on is knowing in your heart that there’s a bright future ahead. Let’s take a look at eight ways to design the latter.
Accept the truth and be thankful. To let go is to be thankful for the experiences that made you laugh, cry, and helped you learn and grow. It’s the acceptance of everything you have, you once had, and that lie ahead. It’s all about finding the strength to embrace life’s changes, to trust your intuition, to learn as you go, to realize that every experience has value, and to continue taking positive steps forward
Distance yourself for a while. Sometimes you need to take several steps back in order to gain clarity on a situation. The best way to do this is to simply take a break and explore something else for a while.
Focus only on what can be changed. Realize that not everything in life is meant to be modified or perfectly understood. Live, let go, learn what you can and don’t waste energy worrying about the things you can’t change. Focus exclusively on what you can change, and if you can’t change something you don’t like, change the way you think about it.
Claim ownership and full control of your life. No one else is responsible for you. You are in full control of your life so long as you claim it and own it. You may have learned that you should blame your parents, your teachers, your mentors, the education system, the government, etc., but never to blame yourself. Right? It’s never, ever your fault… WRONG!
Focus inward. It’s important to make a difference in the world. Yes, it’s important to help people, but you have to start with yourself. If you’re looking outside yourself to find where you fit in or how you can create an impact, stop and look inside yourself instead.
Change the people around you. – Some people come into your life just to strengthen you, so you can move on without them. They are supposed to be part of your memory, not your destiny. The bottom line is that when you have to start compromising your happiness and your potential for the people around you, it’s time to change the people around you.
Take a chance. When life sets you up with a challenge, there’s a reason for it; it’s meant to test your courage and willingness to make a change and take a chance on something new.
Focus on today. You can decide right now that negative experiences from your past will not predict your future. Figure out what the next positive step is, no matter how small or difficult, and take it. Ultimately, the only thing you can ever really do is to keep moving forward.
Learning to Let Go of Past Hurts: 5 Ways to Move On. John M. Grohol, Psy.D.
We’ve all been hurt. You can’t be an adult, or teen, alive today who hasn’t experienced some kind of emotional pain. It hurts. I get that. But what you do with that hurt is probably more important than the hurt itself. Would you prefer to get back to being an active liver of life? Or do you prefer to ruminate endlessly about the past and something that cannot be changed? In short, how do you let go of past hurts and move on? Let’s find out…
Blaming others for our hurt is what most of us start off doing. Somebody did something wrong, or they wronged us in some way that mattered to us. We want them to apologize. We want them to acknowledge what they did was wrong. But blaming someone else for our hurt can backfire. All your feelings are legitimate. It’s important to feel them fully, and then move on. Nursing your grievances indefinitely is a bad habit, because it hurts you more than it hurts them. People who hold on to these past hurts often relive the pain over and over in their minds. Sometimes a person can even get “stuck” in this pain, in this hurt, in this blame.
5 Ways to Let Go of Past Hurts
The only way you can accept new joy and happiness into your life is to make space for it. If your heart is filled full-up with pain and hurt, how can you be open to anything new?
1. Make the decision to let it go. Things don’t disappear on their own. You need to make the commitment to “let it go.” If you don’t make this conscious choice up-front, you could end up self-sabotaging any effort to move on from this past hurt. Making the decision to let it go also means accepting you have a choice to let it go. To stop reliving the past pain, to stop going over the details of the story in your head every time you think of the other person (after you finish step 2 below).
2. Express your pain and your responsibility. Express the pain the hurt made you feel, whether it’s directly to the other person, or through just getting it out of your system Get it all out of your system at once. Doing so will also help you understand what your hurt is about. Are you an active participant in your own life, or simply a hopeless victim? Will you let your pain become your identity? Or are you someone deeper and more complex than that??
3. Stop being the victim and blaming others. Being the victim feels good it’s like being on the winning team of you against the world. But guess what? The world largely doesn’t care, so you need to get over yourself. Yes, you’re special. Yes, your feelings matter. But don’t confuse with “your feelings matter” to “your feelings should override all else, and nothing else matters.” In every moment, you have that choice, to continue to feel bad about another person’s actions, or to start feeling good. You need to take responsibility for your own happiness, and not put such power into the hands of another person.
4. Focus on the present, the here and now. Now it’s time to let go. Let go of the past, and stop reliving it. Stop telling yourself that story where the protagonist, you, is forever the victim of this other person’s horrible actions. You can’t undo the past, all you can do is to make today the best day of your life. When you focus on the here and now, you have less time to think about the past.
5. Forgive them, and yourself. We may not have to forget another person’s bad behaviors, but virtually everybody deserves our forgiveness. Sometimes we get stuck in our pain and our stubbornness, we can’t even imagine forgiveness. But forgiveness isn’t saying, “I agree with what you did.” Instead, it’s saying, “I don’t agree with what you did, but I forgive you anyway.” Forgiveness isn’t a sign of weakness. Instead, it’s simply saying, “I’m a good person. You’re a good person. You did something that hurt me. But I want to move forward in my life and welcome joy back into it. I can’t do that fully until I let this go.” Forgiveness is a way of tangibly letting something go. It’s also a way of empathizing with the other person, and trying to see things from their point of view. And forgiving yourself may be an important part of this step as well, as sometimes we may end up blaming ourselves for the situation or hurt.
I know this stuff is hard, that it’s incredibly hard to let go of one’s pain. If we’ve held onto it for a long time, it feels like an old friend. Justified. But nobody’s life should be defined by their pain. It’s not healthy, it adds to our stress, it hurts our ability to focus, study and work, and it impacts every other relationship we have. Every day you choose to hold on to the pain is another day everybody around you has to live with that decision. And feel its consequences.
So, do everybody, and yourself, a big favor: Let go of the pain. Do something different today and welcome happiness back into your life.
Let It Go!
Past hurts and old injustices have a way of keeping us stuck in our tracks, unable to move forward or experience joy. It can take a radical reboot to get past yesterday. Here's how. The full article can be found here...
How to Move On: What It Really Means to Let Go. Paula Stephens
If you are lucky enough to spend time in mindful communities you will hear the phrase “letting go” used frequently. The practice of letting go is used to support our acceptance of the way things are, and I believe it’s a cornerstone of creating a happy, full life. But what happens when you’re being asked to let go of something that is deeply emotionally charged or something that directly relates to how you identify yourself?
When we have a deep emotional attachment to an event or circumstance in our life and we’re being asked to let it go, it can often feel like we’re being asked to move on and forget about the past, person, or event that we’re deeply connected to.
Some attachments are so deeply woven into the fiber of our beings they seem almost impossible to let go. Fortunately (but not really), we live in a culture that allows 365 days to ‘let go’ of the death of a loved one.
Below I have identified three action steps you can take to use your practice of letting go to deepen your personal growth and attract joy and happiness in your life.
1. Future thinking—believing you can’t be happy or you’ll be happy when…
I struggled for a long time with believing that I had ‘the right’ to be happy. I struggled with reconciling happy moments in my life with the deep grief I felt. Once I learned that life isn’t making a choice between the two emotions, but rather learning to balance and integrate them both into each situation, I was able to let go of my belief that I couldn’t be happy and begin to hold both feelings.
Another way we set ourselves up for struggling with letting go is defining our happiness in terms of if-then. If I get the raise at work, lose ten pounds, meet my soul mate, then I’ll be happy. Those events may change certain qualities about your life, but the achievement alone doesn’t bring happiness. When you find yourself if-then thinking, bring your focus back to the present and appreciate what is already wonderful in your world.
2. Past thinking—attachment to how things should be
As we grow up we often become attached to how we think our life should be, and we create beliefs about universal truths. Perhaps you believed you should get a college degree, get married, have two kids, and live in the burbs. But instead you are struggling to make ends meet, don’t have a significant other, and live in your parents’ basement. Staying fixated on how you think your life should be focuses your attention of lack rather than abundance, and on wishful thinking instead of reality.
Recognizing should-be thinking is a powerful way to shift our thoughts toward appreciation for what we do have, enabling us to come from a place of gratitude. Gratitude is a key element to joyful living.
It’s harder to let go of should-be thinking when our thoughts involve universal truths. The reality is, and I know it’s hard to hear and harder to accept, how things should be are exactly how they are right now.
3. Definitive thinking—believing there are some wounds you can never heal from
Do you remember how you felt when you were twelve and your first boy/girlfriend broke your heart? It felt like a wound that would never heal! But it did, and you learned so much about love, life, and your own capacity to be resilient. Unfortunately, we often experience other events in our lives that feel much bigger than that and leave us with a void that feels insurmountable. Perhaps it’s abuse, or the abandonment by a parent. These types of events leave us with wounds that are carved deep into our souls and can be much more challenging to overcome than your seventh grade love. The human spirit has the capacity to overcome almost anything. When we let go of the thought that we can’t heal from something that has deeply wounded us, we open ourselves up to the growth potential this event holds.