There will come a time in all our lives when we’ll have to let go of someone.
Even if we believe we are strong enough to handle it, when it happens, it can be difficult.
Letting go of someone certainly takes strength, willingness, and love. But, most importantly, it takes awareness and wisdom. When life puts us to the test, we often realize that we are not prepared to let go.
It’s similar to a glass of water with mud at the bottom. On the surface, it appears that the water is clean. But if we stir it, the mud fills the entire glass.
How do we get rid of the mud?
Nagarjuna, the Buddhist philosopher, claimed that nothing is really impermanent.
Author Steve Hagen explains his words further:
“What Nagarjuna is pointing to is that believing things are impermanent involves a contradiction. First, we posit separate, persisting things, then we refer to them as impermanent. What we fail to see is that we are still holding on to a view of substance. […] There’s only flux. Nothing is (or can be) riding along in the flux, like a cork in a stream; nothing actually arises or passes away. There’s only stream.”
There’s only stream—only flux. Things are already non-existent.
If we think about this in respect to our personal lives, we’d see that losing people is inevitable. People are part of the flux, and we already let them go every day. As Buddhist teachings suggest, even our own emotions and thoughts change from moment to moment, but we’re the ones who hold on to them.
Consequently, the only place that people reside is in our minds. Even when something or someone is already gone physically, they stay due to our excessive mental activity.
We continue to think of them and hold on to our idea of them, regardless of the state of the relationship. Then, we confuse our thoughts with what actually is. This is why letting go feels so challenging.
If we truly wish to let go of someone, we must let go of the mental images that we build around them. Once we drop the mental images, letting go happens naturally—it stops being something we must force ourselves to do.
Letting go happens as we let go of our fixed ideas:
To let go of someone, we should let go of the unrealistic expectations that we place on them. Drop every role that you believe this person can or must fulfill.
To let go of someone, we should let go of our fear of losing them. We must surrender and loosen our grip on the people we love. If we really love them, we should let them be and respect their decisions, even the ones that don’t involve our presence.
To let go of someone, we should let go of the effort that we think might change them. We must understand that any energy we put into a relationship that’s not meant to flourish will only cause us more pain.
To let go of someone, we should let go of the need to control the relationship. If it was meant to be, it would have been. Instead of holding on to it, allow yourself to grow because of it. Soon enough, the universe will show you why it didn’t work out.
To let go of someone, we should let go of our lack of faith. When we grasp onto people, we indirectly show the universe that we don’t trust what it has in store for us. Because we’re scared of uncertainty—of what’s coming next—we hold on dearly to what is present right now, regardless of how toxic or painful it might be.
To let go of someone, we should let go of our denial of reality and accept what is. Not every person we meet is meant to be with us. Some people enter our lives to prompt change within ourselves. They’re preparation for the people who are meant to stay.
To let go of someone, we should let go of our need to change them to suit our needs. We can’t force people to love us or make us happy. But we can accept the fact that they’re the wrong people for us and walk away.
What ideas do you need to let go of? Write them down and see reality as it presents itself to you. Attend to this moment fully.
This is what Buddhist philosophy has taught me—to be aware of what’s happening inside of us from moment to moment and then to let go of our unrealistic expectations.
As Steve Hagen says, “Buddhas are those who are aware of their own delusions.”
Bonus: The One Buddhist Red Flag to Look out For.
Author: Elyane Youssef
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