A few years back, I read Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom.
Morrie says something to Mitch that has stayed with me throughout the years. He tells him, “Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long.”
Reading this has opened up a new portal for me on the notion of letting go, and it has dramatically changed the course of my actions. Before swiftly letting go of anything, I now practice holding on first.
The fact is that we either let go and refuse to hold on, or we hold on and become incapable of letting go. And frequently, making the right decision at times of challenge confuses us—should we hold on to our job or look for a new one? Should we hang on to our relationship or let go of our partner? Should we move on from something/someone or give it another chance?
I’ve come to notice that the bulk of our life decisions revolve around these two questions: Do we hold on? Or, do we let go?
Although our life appears to be a set of “either/or” situations, I’ve come to understand that letting go and holding on are two interconnected actions that we must practice simultaneously.
As Morrie said: We shouldn’t let go too soon, but we also shouldn’t hang on too long.
Letting go too soon often forces us to question our decisions, and in no time, we might find ourselves sinking in the “what ifs.” Needless to say, it also eradicates the probability of things turning out well.
Hanging on too long is destructive and much more hazardous than letting go too soon. It keeps us stuck in a bad situation, and it drains us emotionally and mentally. In other words, hanging on too long often makes things worse.
So, how to know when we should hang on (but not for too long) and when we should let go (but not too soon)?
The answer is the combination of looking both inward and outward.
I’ve learned that the most imperative thing we can do when we make a decision is to scrutinize our own emotions—we must tune in to our gut.
>> How does the situation make us feel?
>> Is it making us unhappy or peaceful?
>> Do we feel we should hang on, or do we feel it’s time to let go?
This is tricky—because oftentimes, the mind tricks us into believing that we should hang on more, so we won’t let go too soon. The truth is, we might be hanging on because we’re unconsciously scared of letting go. This is why we must examine ourselves objectively and consciously, so we don’t fall into the trap of our mind.
If throughout the examination we feel that we can internally hang on a little more—then, by all means, we shouldn’t let go yet. So long as the situation keeps us at peace, it means the situation deserves more time.
Nonetheless, if we lose ourselves, become depleted of energy, or live in constant anxiety, it means the reality of the situation is reflecting itself upon us. In other words, it implies that the situation has become destructive, and we must let go.
Listening to our intuition can save us a whole lot of trouble, but we frequently dismiss it. Our intuition isn’t related to reasoning or emotions; it’s an instinctive feeling that is present within each one of us but is often blocked by our excessive thoughts.
Once we look inward, we must investigate the outward situation. What’s the status of the situation—has it become toxic? Has it reached the point of stagnation? How many chances have we given the situation or the person involved?
Oftentimes, it’s palpable when a situation or relationship dies, but we try to revive it to no avail. That said, it’s valuable to hang on when there’s space left for hanging on. However, if the situation has reached its limits, and we feel like we’re repeating the same destructive patterns, then it’s time to let go.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Image: Unsplash/Matheus Ferrero
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Travis May
Social editor: Taia Butler