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Let Go!

Let Go!
Image by visualpanic (license).

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be”
Lao Tzu

“We need to learn to let go as easily as we grasp and we will find our hands full and our minds empty.”
Leo F. Buscaglia

We often carry with us a lot of stuff. Not in our hands perhaps. But in our minds. It can become like you are carrying half the world on your back. Not very helpful. So you need to let go of things. Not only to move lighter and more freely. But also to be able to fully move forward in life.

So how do you let things go?

I am certainly not expert at this but here are few tips that have made it easier for me to let go.

  • Ask yourself helpful questions. Questions like: is this helping me or is it just some nonsense or something I’m reliving from the past? Or am I clinging to it because it’s what I have known for such a long time and it seems comfortable and safe even though it is holding me back?
  • Give up “being right”. Realize that you may cling to things because they might make you feel right as you replay an argument or conflict over and over in your mind. It gives you a certain sense of satisfaction as the other person is wrong. But you have to give up that kind of satisfaction to move on.
  • Understand that you get better at letting go as time passes. Not just because what you are carrying gets lighter with time and less painful. But also because your mind over time – for me it took months of practise – becomes more and more open to letting things go. It understands that letting go is something you can do nowadays. That it’s just a mental habit.
  • Accept it. Then let it go. If you have read this blog for a while you know I like acceptance. I like it because when you accept something instead of resisting it you stop feeding more energy into your problem and making it even bigger. A bit counterintuitive. This is also useful when it comes to letting go. If you first accept what you want to let go you aren’t so emotionally attached to it and still feeding it with your focus and energy. And so it becomes less powerful and easier to just drop. As long as you resist it then it will be hard to let it go.
  • Let it go if it shows up again. In my experience it’s pretty common that what you let go shows up in your thoughts again. And that’s ok. Just let it go each time it shows up. After a while it stops showing up.

What to let go?

Here are a few things you might want to let go of.

Let go of negative, small, petty and unimportant stuff.

If you dwell on that stuff – like how someone cut in front of you while you were driving or something negative your boss told you – and blow it out of proportion all the time how will you be happy? How will you be able to focus? And how will you be able to handle something really big when it comes along like a serious disease, a break up or getting laid off? Be smart about that stuff.

Don’t make yourself weak by making mountains out of molehills. Let that stuff go and focus on the more important and positive stuff you have and want in you life.

Let go of distracting stuff.

It’s easy to get caught up in checking your inbox all the time. Or filling your time with tasks that are kinda important but in the end are mostly distractions.

Letting that distracting stuff go from your life and thoughts as best you can makes is a lot easier to focus, find free time and remain on track to do what is most important for you in life.

Let go of trying to control the results of your actions.

I have already written about this in One Timeless Tip That Can Make Your Life a Whole Lot Easier. The post is about this quote from the ancient Sanskrit Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita:

“To action alone hast thou a right and never at all to its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive; neither let there be in thee any attachment to inaction”

This quote tells me to understand that I cannot control the results of my action. I can’t control how someone reacts to what I say or what I do. And that I should do what I do just because it is something I want to do rather than because of some outcome I’d like. But at the same time I should not let these two ideas lead me to become passive and get stuck in sitting on my hands and not taking action at all.

Basically, I do what I think is right and that is my responsibility. And then the rest (the possible results), well, that is not up for me to decide about or try to control. I let it go.

Let go of information you don’t need.

If you have read a lot about personal development then you might have a lot of tips on different topics in your head. To simplify your life and thinking you might not need 25 ways to handle nervousness.

Now articles with that many tips can be helpful but it’s important to try that stuff out for yourself and see what tips that work most effectively for you. And then simplify so you always know what action to take if you get nervous for example. Instead of having your mind so cluttered with information that you become paralyzed and take no action at all.

Let go of the past and old self-images.

I think this can be a big problem for many people. They get caught up in the past and relive it over and over (perhaps in their minds as old conflicts are on replay or by making the same negative decisions over and over again). Or sometimes they become trapped in their current circumstances as they think that they are what happened to them in the past. Of course, our self-images are fluid.

A few years ago I for instance saw myself as someone who didn’t eat healthy food or was athletic and worked out. Even when I started to do that a bit more I still kinda felt like the person I used to feel like when I was living in an unhealthy way.

Over time I started to think more and more of myself as someone who was healthy. But still shifted between the two self-images of being a healthy person and an unhealthy person. So  since sometime around the beginning of this year I let go of that reassuring past image of myself that felt kinda comfortable. Since then, as my self-image as a healthy person has become consistent in my mind, I find it much easier to work out and eat healthy food. It seems like the natural thing for me to do now.

I think at some point you have to make a shift and let your old identity go if you want to grow. It may be your identity when it comes to health. Or money. Or socially.

If you try to improve but still cling to that old identity of who you were it will be very hard to move forward at your full capacity. And also harder work than it needs to be. When you are not holding on to that past image, when you stop working against yourself, then your current work to improve some part of yourself become more natural and many of the mental obstacles just disappear.

You will still be you if you let your past or an old self-image go. But it’s a new you, a simpler and lighter you.

What is your best tip for making it easier to let go of things?

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  • Holddrexsor March 12, 2010, 10:10 pm

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  • Giovanni March 30, 2010, 3:03 am

    @LisaLisa and Shabana: You’re not making a genuine choice. Perhaps you may be mistaking the process of letting go with ignoring it or trying to stuff it out? Never try to pretend the Elephant isn’t there and believe that doing that blocking it out is the same as letting go. Letting go takes understanding and not so much forced decisions.

    I’m feel and love deeply, I think deeply. It’s difficult for me to let go. I won’t get into details, but I spent 6 years with someone and now it’s done and almost feels like nothing great came out of it. I spent that much time dreaming about how this is the greatest thing and that this person is perfect. That person is gone. I told myself that I cannot make 6 years disappear in a few months, or maybe even half that amount of time. But with so many powerful emotions and profound thoughts on it, it must be equal and important to the pain I am feeling – but it’s not. If it was, it would still be here with me, in pain like me. But it’s not. This comes after the planet-sized-fortress of resentment, bitterness and poison in me that keeps me inside, trapped, safe in my identity of those dark feelings and thoughts.

    I’m willful in the sense that I know that what isn’t here with me, on a deep and profound level, shouldn’t be with me and that I shouldn’t pain after something that isn’t as important as something that chooses to be here with me. Once I understood that and genuinely gave my self the chance to dip my feet in cold water, it started to spread in my mind. I gave it a true chance. If you can understand that, then you don’t have to worry about how to let go or wonder why it’s not happening. You can’t make a decade vanish in 6 months, so time is also part of the process. But time by itself cannot heal anything, you must understand the importance of once long standing factors in your life, and be ever conscious of the fact that it is gone. If it was truly as important as you may feel it to be, it would still be there.

    Truly let yourself let go, don’t force it, and don’t despair. You don’t want to squeeze the sand out of your hand, you want to let it fall off.

    How about letting go of it, for real. Because what happened to you in the past or what lingers isn’t you. How can the missing piece be so important, if it’s gone? The best pieces stay with us. Only those pieces deserve this amount of pain or happiness.

  • Giovanni March 30, 2010, 3:05 am

    I want to be notified of follow up comments.