Nowadays, the concept of “letting go” is quite popular.
We read about it everywhere and we hear about it from almost everyone. However, we often underestimate the importance of actually letting go for real. We take the idea for granted, thinking that the proclamation is just a generic spiritual new-agey phrase. In fact, we’re all after the pursuit of happiness. The truth is, in order to obtain at least a glimpse of it, we have to learn how to let go of certain burdens.
From personal experience, I can tell you that letting go isn’t as arduous as we think it is. It’s in our nature to grasp onto things, people, and emotions because it’s safe and it’s familiar. It basically gives our so-called identity a comfortable zone, and a shield against the unknown.
Looking back at my own past, the things I wouldn’t let go of were uncounted. As far as I’m concerned, it was mainly fear of losing a part of myself, since I have strongly identified with the things I should’ve let go of. I know others who wouldn’t let go because they mistake it for being careless, or “nonchalant”. Whatever the reason of our grasping is, it is absolutely stopping us from being untroubled.
The list of the things we should let go of is endless. However, I have personally assembled the ones that I let go of, or at the very least, practice to get rid of every day. I must admit that the outcome is unexpectedly rewarding.
1. Let go of guilt.
Although we don’t always admit it, but we all have at least one mistake we did in the course of our lives that brought us feelings of guilt. Having experienced that feeling before, I acknowledge the intensity of its consequences. It was a feeling that literally shut me down. I kept giving myself a hard time to the point that I had no energy left within me for anything else.
I learnt that guilt truly wears us out. And the not-so-shocking news is that it helps with nothing. Thinking about it won’t alter the events that already occurred –and it surely won’t help with elevating our state of mind. Guilt is only a self-created emotion that we think we have no control over. The only thing it helps us with is making us more miserable, unhappy creatures.
I don’t want to throw the notion of “everything happens for a reason”, but I do believe that some things are out of our control in our lives. We can’t beat ourselves up with the mistakes we did, but we certainly can learn from them. As someone dear to me once told me: “Stop frowning, start smiling; it works wonders”, and it truly does.
2. Let go of controlling.
I think there are mainly two aspects of controlling: Controlling people, and controlling events. Personally, I was more drawn towards controlling events in my life. I think it’s the most difficult type of controlling as it involves us, and time. This kind of controlling is followed by a sense of expectations. As far as I remember, I always expected to witness the results that I wished to see. To my surprise, I waited, expected and controlled, getting nothing in return.
Controlling is an illusion that we think it works. It technically gives us a sense of security and a feeling that all will turn out the way we want. Reality check! People and the universe are both uncontrollable. Trying to control them will only bring us mental and emotional exhaustion.
As a matter of fact, I learnt that the more we try to control stuff in our lives, the more things slip out of our hands. However, the less we control, the more we gain. Not to mention the comfort and happiness we will enormously be filled with.
3. Let go of worrying.
Unfortunately, we are accustomed to worrying. We were raised to carry our burdens on our shoulders and walk miles holding the extra weight. Looking around, everyone is worried about something, including myself. I often fail to practice letting go of worrying due to the fact that my mind is programed to fret––like every single human mind out there.
Happily, the outcome of my worrying always reminds me of the truth. And the truth is, whenever I am anxious, I figure later that my worry was rubbish. Now, I highly believe that letting go of worrying is having an actual trust in the universe and its manifestations.
The less we worry, the happier we become. Therefore, we should re-program our minds and remove any traces of anxiety, or over-thinking. Thoughts don’t help; they only make things worse.
4. Let go of sadness.
At some point in life, something will eventually trigger our sadness. It is completely normal, however, to experience feelings of agony caused by a certain trauma. Personally, I lost count of the times during which I felt really sad and certain events still provoke my feelings.
With time, I learnt to use these moments of sadness as stepping stones towards acceptance and happiness. Otherwise, our torment will cling to us like a limpet. To be honest, I think staying sad is absolutely absurd. We need to understand that whatever trauma has caused those feelings of agony will eventually fade away. The traumatic event itself only stays alive in our own memory, as we are the ones who keep providing it with fuel.
Once this memory runs out of fuel, we should try our best to move past it. Sadness won’t reshape the past nor will it guarantee a brighter future. It will only help us to hit rock bottom faster.
5. Let go of grudges.
I personally regard holding grudges against others as an indirect means of punishing them––but without them being aware of it. In fact, we are only punishing ourselves by remaining attached to whatever has gone amiss. We dismiss our happiness and our own comfort for the sole sake of staying angry at someone else.
Holding grudges is pretty similar to remaining sad and to worrying. It is totally ridiculous and won’t change anything in any way. What I actually realized is that we should grow more forgiving in order to learn how to let go of grudges—at least that’s what I did.
The more we are capable of forgiving, the more we are prone to stop grasping at resentments.
6. Let go of the past.
Sadly, we always tend to use the past as a means to live our present. Just like most people, I used to tend to fear living my present moment. It seemed to me unfamiliar, boring and empty. However, thinking about the past constantly made my “now” more enjoyable, and busy. I never realized that letting go of the past was key to living a better and more peaceful life.
One fact stands out about the past, but unfortunately we underestimate its credibility. It is the fact that we can never change it no matter what. I know we’ve heard this more than once; however, I cannot stress enough the fact that we can’t change the past, and we can’t control what’s coming next. We unconsciously keep thinking about it and re-living it in our heads, because we indirectly believe that something will change. However, once we truly acknowledge that no events can be altered, we will instantly let go of the past’s presence.
7. Let go of time.
Never before has humanity used time the way it is used today. We are tied to clocks, calendars, date widgets and watches in a frantic way. We keep nagging that we are losing time, or that we don’t have enough time. Truth be told, we are losing time while keeping an eye on it.
I truthfully believe that we should practice detaching from the notion of time. The only clock we should look at is the clock of the “now”. Every other clock is only a self-created mechanical device that is creating an illusory time in our own minds.
Time has us procrastinate, worry and have daily lives that are full to the brim. Creating less time won’t make us feel that we are actually running out of it. We will start enjoying our days more, and basically feel that our 24-hour days are more than enough for us to fully live.
8. Let go of perfection.
I am someone who likes to perfect everything—just like some of the people I know. I always long to have a perfect tidy room, a perfect set up around myself, a perfect company and, sometimes, a perfect self. Not long ago, I learnt that constantly seeking perfection is tiring. Everyone has a different idea of perfection but, overall, it is exhausting.
Salvador Dali once said: “Have no fear of perfection, you will never reach it.” I truly believe we will never reach it. Whether in our life, in others, or in us, it will never be there. We might reach it in our own minds with our own perception of it but, in reality, it is far beyond our reach.
I feel more relaxed whenever I don’t perfect. There is less mind exhaustion, and less forcing. The whole notion is part of letting things, people and even our own selves just be. Thus, I can say that non-perfection is a true bliss.
9. Let go of “I can’t let go”.
Whenever I tell someone “let go”, I always get in return “but I can’t let go”. Letting go isn’t as hard as we perceive it. From afar, it looks like a dangerous state to be in. Letting go basically threatens the identities we have set to ourselves and our lives.
Letting go is easy, and everyone is capable of practicing it. All we have to do is make a small shift in the way we perceive this phrase in particular.
“Let go” should become a mantra that we repeat to ourselves every day. Reciting it on a daily basis will work magic. I personally believe in magic, don’t you?
Author: Elyane Youssef
Editor: Caroline Beaton