The Paradox of Letting Go: 5 Things We Continuously Hold On To
I read once in a yoga magazine, which sat in my own waiting room, that in order to let go we must set up the circumstances in our lives that allow us to let go. In other words, as I always tell my clients, letting go is more of an art than a science. And, if I had the power to make it a science, or better yet an easily followed recipe, I’d quit my day job as a therapist and pursue my backup career (makeup artist in case you were wondering).
The Art of Letting Go
Letting go is an art we must grapple with, I think, throughout our entire lives if we are going to have any sense of peace, contentment and happiness.
A practice really.
A practice, that I will admit, I must continually put effort into, sometimes daily.
I can stamp my feet and scream at the top of my lungs that it’s not fair! That it’s just too hard to let go, let alone accept. But, it doesn’t really change the fact that many of the things I need to let go of and accept are things that were never really in my control to begin with.
What can be even more frustrating is that I really do feel like I have been able to let go and accept one of the toughest circumstances of my life in surviving through IVF and accepting a childfree life. Although, only through practice, as there are definitely still days of major struggle on this front
Yet in my own recovery and in my work with clients, letting go will always be a battle of life that we must rumble with, and if not continually challenged and worked on can have major consequences on our happiness and well-being.
The big ones I struggle with myself and continually see in my office with clients tend to be the soul crushing and spirit stealing ones that have the staying power of tattooed eyebrows (which I’m not sure I’d ever recommend, even if I did become that makeup artist). They’re the ones that can leave us empty, defeated shells of our authentic self.
The Five Hardest Things to Let Go
So here they are, the five things we tend to continuously hold on to and how we can attempt to set up the circumstances in our lives in order to allow ourselves to let them go…
1. The past.
We can’t change it.
What’s done is done.
It is what it is.
If it isn’t okay, it probably isn’t finished.
Instead of dwelling or wallowing, we need to begin asking ourselves things like: “Where do I go from here?” or “What’s my next best step?”.
And we must remember to have self-compassion around it, “Well, that sucked or I messed that one up. What now?”.
For the most part, we all do the best we know how in any given moment. If we had known better, we would have chosen better or differently. Even when we are really messing up or hurting others or when someone in our life is really messing up or hurting us, it is the best they had in that piece of time; learn from it and move forward.
2. The what ifs.
We are not mind readers.
We are not fortune tellers or clairvoyant.
We tell ourselves, playing out the what ifs is a way to protect ourselves from being hurt and a way to prepare us for the worst case scenario. But really, it is just a waste of our time, energy and spirit. If we must play the what ifs, play it fairly and play both sides of it. And put a time limit on this type of worry.
Asking ourselves things like, “How possible is it? How probable is it?” or “What is the concrete evidence? What actually is?”.
Life is uncertain; we loathe uncertainty and yet we must embrace it, because if we don’t we simply just miss it completely.
3. The need to be understood by everyone and the need to understand everyone.
Sometimes we just won’t get it or we just won’t get someone.
Sometimes they just won’t get us.
That doesn’t mean we judge or pity. Within our differences we must find respect and compassion for one another, and we only find this through authentic connection and practicing empathy. Focus on what we do have in common and set clear healthy boundaries if needed.
Love and belonging are inherent needs for us all, we thrive through and within connection. But we must also give ourselves permission that this connection can look and feel differently for everyone. And, at the end of the day, we will not find belonging through fitting in, peace will only be found within our own self-validation.
4. Things not in our control.
The harsh reality that we all must face is that there isn’t much in our control; only how we think, feel and behave.
My reactions to life, or better yet my response to life is completely within my power. When I embrace this limited power, of just myself, I actually gain full control of my life.
5. What isn’t.
Not thin enough.
Not rich enough.
Not happy enough.
We must stop living in the never ______________ enough.
Because we are enough.
Not accepting what is and what isn’t, especially when it isn’t what we wanted or hoped for is one of the biggest thieves of happiness and well-being.
We must trust and have faith that everything is exactly as it is supposed to be.
There are no mistakes, no failures, just lessons and moments.
Very few things actually last forever, and even if they do we’re still changeable.
And in reality, this brings us right back to the beginning of our need to learn to let go. I suppose, putting us right back where we started; kind of a paradox of ourselves.
And yet, the only way through is to continually work on letting go, as this can be our guiding light out back to our true self.