How good are you at letting go?

What are you holding on to?  
A dream, a hope, an insult, a disappointment, a disagreement? Or perhaps you’re holding on to anger, fear, or the past.  
Few would argue that if we could learn to let go – of whatever we’re holding on to – we’d experience more peace, contentment and joy in our life. 
But it’s not easy.
Why is it so hard to let go?  
“Letting go will make you question your identity,” explains therapist Dezryelle Arcieri, who adds: “When it comes to . . . matters of the heart, letting go can feel downright impossible.” 
Writer Jaimee Ratliff echoes the sentiment: letting go “can be extremely challenging and scary. It can also be painful as hell if it’s not something you’re ready to do: especially if your heart and mind are singing two different songs.” 
Kim West, divorce consultant coach, joins in: “Letting go sounds so simple. However, it’s anything but. These problems and patterns that I’ve reviewed can be deeply ingrained in us. And we tend to protect them and continually return to them, because in doing so we feel like we’re protecting ourselves.”
Yes, we’re protecting ourselves. But, in other ways, it may be holding us back.  
The physical world
In the physical world, the act of letting go comes easily. A candle burns our hand, so we let go. Our fingers inadvertently touch a heated grill – and we let go. That’s the beauty of physical pain – the brain reacts instinctively, immediately. Not so with mental pain.   
With mental pain, there’s no quick signal, no immediate release. Instead, our brain keeps processing – and reprocessing – incidents and moments. 
That’s what makes letting go, particularly of the past, so difficult. Says psychiatrist Abigail Brenner: “The past is done … Your past is not your identity. Yes, it’s part of your history, a part of who you are, but it’s not you.” Brenner adds: “Letting go is the cornerstone of change.” 
West would agree: “Whether it’s a fear of failure, a fear of letting go of control, a fear of abandonment or of trusting others, a fear that you’re not good enough, or a fear of not being accepted for who you are – all of these fears have the same solution: letting go.”
Makes sense, but how exactly do we learn to let go? 
It begins, of course, with awareness, with the knowledge that, over time, hyperawareness will lead to acceptance. 
It begins by asking ourselves questions – Young offers two: “Is this person, job, relationship capable of giving me what I need?” and “What has to change for me to feel happy and secure?”
It begins by not suppressing our emotions: “Letting go isn’t about suppressing any emotion,” explains philosopher Tobias Weaver. “It’s simply recognizing that while it’s OK to feel the emotion, we don’t have to allow the emotion to control our thoughts and actions.”
In all of this, Young reminds us that letting go is not the same as giving up: “Giving up is ‘I can’t.’ Letting go is, ‘I won’t.’ The difference is subtle in sound but enormous in impact. Giving up comes from a place of defeat. ‘I don’t have the capacity or the ability to do this. I’m spent.’ Letting go, on the other hand, comes from a position of
strength. It’s a decision to cut yourself from the things that weigh you down. Fight for them, and fight hard, but know when to stop.”
When I find myself holding on, to whatever it is, I think of my grandson Vinny, who on my first-ever zip wire journey yelled out, moments before I jumped off the platform, “Let go!” And so I did, hands out wide, with the knowledge that only fear, not logic, would bind me to cling to the wire above. 
So the next time you have a chance, try letting go – letting go of whatever it is that you’re holding on to.

Daniel Island Publishing

225 Seven Farms Drive
Unit 108
Daniel Island, SC 29492 

Office Number: 843-856-1999
Fax Number: 843-856-8555


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