Things happen, time passes, and life just keeps on happening. Good things, bad things, funny things, sad things. The weird, the odd, the silly, the incredible, the amazing. It all happens. And humans have a habit of collecting it all. Tucking all of these little moments in time where they can be easily reached and relieved, getting ever so slightly more weighed down as each new thing is added.
It’s a factor of the human experience that you cannot go back, so you hold on. On to everything, sometimes trying to relive the past and others, trying to recreate it. But you can’t. What has been, has been. You only have this very moment, and carrying all of this weight slows you down. Learning to let go is choosing to prioritise happiness instead of living in the memory of the past.
To understand how to let go, first, you must understand why you hold on. A lot of it comes down to attachment and control. You might become attached to a person, place or thing, or even an opinion. You fear that if you lose it, you will become unhappy. And so you hold on, attached, mistaking emotional gratification as happiness.
But emotions are temporary, and a person, place, or thing cannot solely be relied upon to bring you happiness, and so you must let go of your hold to these things. You don’t need to cast them aside; you just need to change your viewpoint and stop seeing them as the key to your happiness.
With letting go comes freedom; you stop being held back by fear, by pain or by an ever-present loop of could have/should have. It is hard to let go; of course, it is. There’s an undercurrent of uncertainty. But that is fuelled by the belief that the world will crumble if you lose something you depend on for happiness and survival. Plus, holding on is so commonplace that you’ve likely got it ingrained as a habit. It’s time to exhale and let it go.
Letting go is the only way to create a better present and future. Because without it, you’re attempting to recreate a past you’ve already lived.
So, how to move on?
- Stop focusing on others as the cause of your challenges; instead, focus on the fact that you are responsible for your own happiness.
- It can start simply, as simple as consciously deciding to let go. You can have a stern conversation in your head. Or you can write it down. Whatever works for you, just be firm. You are letting it go now.
- Believe in yourself; things will work out how they are meant to. Choosing to let go is looking for a clear path ahead rather than focusing on the storm.
- Sometimes, there’s a lesson in what you’ve experienced. Look for it, learn from it, feel grateful for what you know and then move on.
- Meditating can help. Clearing the mind and recentering yourself can help you find the clarity to see what is truly important.
- Choose the present. Living in the past will mean you are destined to repeat it, so choose right here and right now. Let go of the past and what you think the future is supposed to look like, embrace where you are now.
Start the process:
An activity for self-reflection
- Today I choose to let go of things that no longer serve me, including….
- Why am I finding it so hard to move on from this?
- What emotions does this event or memory trigger in me?
- Has this affected other areas of my life? How so?
- Instead of doubting myself, I trust that no matter what happens, I….
- What are three long-term things I can do to move on from this and heal?
- What does ‘letting go’ really mean for me?