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How to Let Go: 5 Essential Tips

I often write about finding lightness in life.

It can come from an unhurried but effective day at work.

It can come from uncluttering and simplifying your home.

Or from letting go of distractions or huge mental burdens (that can also become physical as stress and worries pile up).

Learning to let go of something in your past, of something that is just an unimportant distraction or of trying to control what you cannot control can free up huge amounts of the energy and the time you have to use for something better and more fulfilling.

It is not always easy. But it can be life-changing.

In this article you can find five things that have made it easier for me to let go over the years.

I hope they will help you too.

Know the benefits of not letting go.

Why is it sometimes hard to let go of something?

Well, to be honest, there are advantages and benefits to not letting go. At least for instant gratification and in the short run.

  • You get to keep feeling like you are right. And like the other person is wrong. And that can be a pleasant feeling and way to look at the situation at hand.
  • You can assume the victim role. And get attention, support and comfort from other people.
  • You don’t have to go out into the scary unknown. You can cling to what you know instead, to what is familiar and safe even if it now just dream of what you once had.

I have not let go of things in the past because of these reasons. I still sometimes delay letting go of things because of those benefits above.

But I am also conscious of the fact that they are something I get out of not letting go. And I know that in the end they are not worth it.

Because what will the long-term consequences be in my life if I do not let go?

How will it affect the next 5 years in my life and the relationships I have with other people and with myself?

The mix of knowing how those benefits will hurt me in the long run and of knowing that there are even bigger benefits that I can get from letting go become a powerful motivator that pushes me on to let go for my own sake and happiness.

Accept what is, then let go.

When you accept what is, that this has happened then it becomes easier to let go.

Why?

Because when you still struggling in mind against what has happened then you feed that memory or situation with more energy. You make what someone said or did even bigger and more powerful in your mind than it might have been in reality.

By accepting that it simply that has happened and letting it in instead of trying to push it away something odd happens after a while.

The issue or your memory of the situation becomes less powerful in your mind. You don’t feel as upset or sad about it as you did before. You become less emotionally attached it.

And so it becomes easier to let go and for you to move on with your life.

Forgive.

If someone wrongs you then it will probably cause you pain for a while.

But after that you have a choice. You can refuse to let what happened go and instead let it interfere with your relationship and replay what happened over and over in your mind.

Or you can choose to forgive.

First accepting what happened can be helpful to make it easier to forgive.

Another thing you can do is not to focus on forgiving because it is “something you supposed to do”.

Instead, if you like, find the motivation to forgive for you own sake. Do it for your own well-being, happiness and for the time you have left in your life.

And just because you forgive does not mean that you have to stay passive towards your future. You may for example choose to forgive but also to spend less time or no time in the future with someone who has hurt you over and over.

Focus on what you CAN influence in your life.

By reliving what happened over and over and in your mind you aren’t really changing anything. Unless you have a time-machine you don’t have any control over the past.

And being distracted or worried by things that you cannot control in your life in any way right now is a waste of energy.

So ask yourself: what can I focus my time and energy on instead to actually make a positive progress or change in my life?

My experience has been that by switching my focus from what I cannot influence to what I actually have influence over and by doing that over and over again – by using questions like the one above – it becomes easier and easier to stop worrying and to let go of what has happened or what I cannot control.

Let go again.

If you let go of something that happened or some distraction in your life then that might not be the end of it.

Life is not always that neat. The issue or distraction might pop up again.

Then let it go once more.

I have found that each time I let something go it pops up less and less frequently and it has less power over me.

Plus, this extra practice will make it easier to let go in the future. Letting go is something you’ll get better at over time just like for example keeping an optimistic mindset during tough times.

Image by Jennifer (license).

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Lori Gosselin July 4, 2013, 3:48 pm

    Hi Henrik,
    There are a lot of good ideas here. Letting go may be the intention but actually finding a way to do it is tricky!
    I like what you say about lightness in a day. It’s so true that an unhurried pace just feels better, no matter how much is on your To Do list that day!
    :-)
    Lori

    • Henrik Edberg July 5, 2013, 1:47 pm

      Thank you for the kind words and for reading, Lori!

  • Isaiah Hankel, Ph.D. July 4, 2013, 4:08 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. I really appreciate what you wrote at the end of the article. Letting go is a process, not a one time action. It’s easy to think, “I’ve failed” if you let something go and it comes back into your awareness later on. A better strategy, as you suggested, is to think, “Its time to let this go again…and again…and again.” Eventually, whatever your problem is, will stop coming back. Thanks again.

    • Henrik Edberg July 5, 2013, 1:48 pm

      Glad you liked it, Isaiah. I find it important to add this to my articles pretty often to remind myself and the readers to not get stuck in the one time action thought trap you mention.

  • Susan from Find the Real You July 4, 2013, 5:03 pm

    Love how you have analysed feelings towards things that hurt us and how we deal with them – you are right in most cases, we hold onto the hurt because it serves us in some way – I know I do!! Thank you for your intuitive words Henrik x

  • Kristine July 4, 2013, 6:57 pm

    I love, LOVE, LOVE this article. You have put everything I have been trying to do and say to myself in all the right words. Beautifully said..I love it. thank you!

    “Because when you still struggling in mind against what has happened then you feed that memory or situation with more energy. You make what someone said or did even bigger and more powerful in your mind than it might have been in reality.”

    Preach!

    • Henrik Edberg July 5, 2013, 1:51 pm

      Glad to hear that you found it so helpful, thank you for adding your loving thoughts, Kristine!

  • Sophie Todas July 5, 2013, 12:26 am

    Thank-you, i really enjoyed your article :)

  • Bernadette July 5, 2013, 2:00 am

    Great post thanks Henrik. Most articles/blogs on ‘letting go’ just focus on tips for moving on. Your 3 points about the short-term benefits we get from not letting go (even though usually not conscious) is so on point!
    Something powerful happens when you start with understanding why you can’t let go in the first place, and what your ‘pay back’ is for holding on so tight. Once you know those things, it’s like the whole experience loses it’s fiery grip on you and letting go becomes easier/more peaceful.
    Thanks for the insights!
    Bernadette :)

    • Henrik Edberg July 5, 2013, 1:53 pm

      Yeah, I find that when I become more conscious of why am feeling and thinking certain things it often becomes a lot easier to make a positive change. Thank you for reading! :)

  • Emeka Nnama July 5, 2013, 4:41 pm

    Hi, Henrik,
    Thank you very much for the post. Really, it is a great one. My friend introduced me to your positivity blog. Keep it up.

  • Allan Nielsen July 5, 2013, 11:42 pm

    @Henrik: You are so on point! There are certain moments in life that we just have to close our eyes and let go! There are so many things that we cling to, and do not really add any value to our living and existence. But the most interesting thing is that this is not always an easy thing to do. Even when we know clearly that many of these things are irrelevant, we still cannot come to terms with letting go totally. Building up courage is very important if one is to really pause and start life on a new slate.

  • John July 6, 2013, 4:11 am

    Henrik,

    Great post! I am new to your blog and I like what I’ve read so far. You make some enlightening points here. I always try to make an effort and move on from things that take up too much mental space. This negative energy can really build up and cause stress, health issues, etc. The more we practice forgiveness, the more we free ourselves.

  • Janine July 6, 2013, 5:40 am

    Hi Henrik,
    I was stuck in my past for the longest time. And you are definitely right, I held on because I was scared of the unknown. Now, I kind of regret it. Had I learned to let go earlier, I would have learned more on how to face the future. Then again, it was a learning experience for me. Your article is realistic and helpful. More power to your articles and you. :)

  • Yasir Pervez July 8, 2013, 8:27 am

    Thanks Henrik, i really enjoyed your article great Job.

  • Kael July 9, 2013, 1:42 am

    Let go, and live with the idea of ” rowing your boat, gently down the stream of life”
    @GrowthGuided

  • Steve July 9, 2013, 1:54 pm

    Your right Henrik, letting go is both hard and something we need to do to move forward. The benefits of not letting go are right on point and the reason that it is so hard. Thanks again and keep up the good work

  • dan munro July 10, 2013, 9:24 am

    Totally agree with this, particularly the part about focusing on what you can control and letting go of that which you cannot. Kind of like the serenity prayer for addicts, only more practical

  • Maria July 10, 2013, 2:07 pm

    Good morning and thank you! I woke this morning needing a little umph to my day. You know, a get up and go. I am generally a positive person but sometimes we all need to recharge. I searched positive blogs looking for a pick me up and found yours. Your tips and energy gave me just what I needed. I will carry it with me all day.
    I will focus on letting go the situations I can’t change !
    Thank you again!
    Cheers!

  • Christy July 10, 2013, 5:28 pm

    I was surfing the web for some “quick fixes” I love how you tell us what to NOT do, it’s backwards and I like that. I respect and appreciate your site and I look forward to my emails!

  • Tamera Lay July 11, 2013, 7:33 pm

    I loved this article! Thank you so much. I thought it was so refreshing to see in writing what we think are the benefits are of NOT letting go. But in the long run, it doesn’t serve us. I was trying to explain a lot of these points to my Mom yesterday because she is mad at her sister. When my Mom’s side of the family is mad at someone, they just stop talking. What she doesn’t realize is that her need to be right hurts her in the long run. I think one of the most important things to remember when it comes to forgiveness is the fact that just because you choose to forgive someone and let it go, doesn’t mean you are saying to them or to yourself, that they are right or what they did was right. It just means you are choosing the higher road and creating peace in your life.
    “Forgiveness doesn’t mean you condone the behavior or, in any way, make a wrong right. It just means you give yourself permission to release from your past — and step forward with the mud of resentment cleared from your wings.” -Oprah Winfrey

  • Patti July 16, 2013, 6:22 pm

    Henrik,

    Love this article! Yes, it is so hard to let go and forgive, but well worth it. Great info : )

  • Patty July 19, 2013, 1:34 pm

    “Let go again”….it never crossed my mind. I thought once you did the hard work of letting go everything was suppose to be better. I have let go of a lot of things over the years, yet for some odd reason a few have been able to sneak back in. It never occurred to me to let it go….love it! I will do it. Thanks for the tip. :)