We've all had to let go of things at some point or another. Whether it be a pet, a close friend, a relationship or simply overcoming our own imperfections. We are constantly ending chapters to start new chapters.
As you grow older, your experience can make it a little easier to let go and move forward, but completely letting go can be difficult to achieve. Our tendency is to focus on "what used to be" and holding on to past experiences.
The problem with this, is it hinders growth and stalls our progress to move ahead. Learning how to find the balance between releasing attachment, expectation, or emotional connection to the situation/outcome and focusing on where we are now…what we want to have that we couldn't before. Here are six ways to help you master the art of letting go:
Un-trap your feelings: find your voice and let your words be heard. Talk to your friends, write down your thoughts in a journal, say them out loud to yourself, or write a letter sharing all the things that you valued about the relationship. This will help you understand how you really feel about the situation and why it hurts so that you can accept it and put it in the past.
If you're not much into writing, you could also create a photo album or scrapbook to help yourself continue to cherish those memories. This can be a nice way to "organize our pieces of the past" into one activity.
Cry when you need to: if a thought or memory comes up then let it out. If it happens in the shower, then let it out. Your body and soul will let you know when it needs to release. Just let it happen naturally – if it feels like it needs to come up…let it vs. whether it is "socially appropriate." Focus on what you need rather than whether it will "make other people uncomfortable." Take care of yourself -- be your own emotionally nurturing mother.
After you let it out, do something that you love like play music, go for a walk, watch a movie, write... simply, enjoy life!
Accept things as they are: it’s common to find yourself reliving painful situations and going over every detail that makes you hurt. Wishing that these moments were different will only prevent you from living a full life. Bring yourself into the present moment. This is where life happens. You can’t change the past; you can only make decisions today to help how your future turns out.
Focus on what you are gaining: they say, when one door closes…another opens. To learn how to let things go requires a conscious commitment and decision. Make a commitment to yourself and to your decision. From that moment, try to stop reliving the past and focus on the possibilities. Dream big. Start to write yourself a bucket list or vision board and begin to make plans to make that a reality. Start each new day fresh and look forward to all the new opportunities ahead. Practice gratitude, appreciation, and trust in the process – and you will notice a difference in how you feel and think.
Let go of certain beliefs: expectations (and guilt) have a way of keeping us stuck because they lead us to fear certain outcomes or relive past experiences. There are no guarantees in life, and there’s nothing we can really do to get the outcomes we desire when dealing with others or change. When our expectations or needs aren’t met, we need to respond rationally and appropriately. Sometimes this means setting respectful boundaries; other times, it means letting go.
Learn forgiveness: resentment and unwillingness to forgive will keep you locked in the past and prevent you from moving forward with your life. Remember: When you forgive, you aren’t doing it for the other person; you’re doing it for yourself. If for no other reason than that, forgive and let go of those feelings of blame and anger towards them.
Remember, letting go is a process, not an event. It might take time, effort, and patience. The goal is not to erase memories or emotions but to find a healthier way of relating to them. It’s about honoring the past while making room for the present and future.
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