Written by: Gurpreet Kaur, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
“Life is balance of holding on and letting go.” Rumi
The season of Fall is a wonderful natural reminder for us to learn that letting go is a way of life. The beautiful colors this season offers show us that the process of letting go can be beautiful, colorful, and nourishing. I know a lot of people don’t see the process of letting go as vibrant and intriguing as the season Fall appears to be. Let’s admit, who wouldn’t want to learn how to effectively let go the things that are holding them back? Of course, all of us would. But what does it even mean? Let’s explore.
What does it mean to let go of?
Literally letting go of is to stop holding or gripping onto something or someone. That could be a person, mistake, or an event. However, it is much more than that. It is an emotional process of healing that takes place before you are ready to let things go. A big part of that process is holding something/someone accountable for what happened. Until you are ready to honestly say to yourself “I no longer hold anything (not a situation, not others, and not myself) responsible for the hurt I experienced,” AND hold the space for the wound to heal, you are not ready to let go of the things you might want to. Following are some of the reasons why you have difficult time with letting things go:
Reason 1: Most people don’t know what to do when they are suggested to let it go. That’s not a skill you are taught in schools or by your parents. Everything about the world is teaching you to hold on to things like your grades, your personality, your relationships, your career, etc. You learn from your past and history. So, the mind naturally has a hard time with letting things go.
What Will Help: Be easy on yourself if you don’t know how to let things go. You being hard on yourself for not being able to let go of the things is making the grip of fears harder. It is counterproductive.
Reason 2: Letting go literally feels like dying even though you haven’t experienced what dying feels like yet. Letting go means you are letting go of a part of you that you have been holding on to for a period of time. You are talking about letting go of a part of your identity even if that is hurting you.
What Will Help: Know exactly what you are letting go of. Maybe you only have to let go of a part of the whole situation. Do you want to let go of a thought, belief, feeling, or a situation? Knowing what you are working with helps you with the anxiety you experience when are considering letting things go.
Reason 3: Feeling out of control is at the core of all anxiety. Letting go may makes you feel like you are not in control although letting go of things directly puts you in control of them.
What Will Help: Know that letting go is for you not for others. Most people think of letting go means that you let others (who may have hurt you) off the hook. Letting go of things that are holding you back is to free you out of the hurt not to justify someone’s actions. The opposite may be true as well. There might be cases in which you are holding on to the guilt of hurting your loved ones. And you might feel that letting go the guilt may mean that you are justifying your actions. That’s not true. You letting go of the guilt of hurting a loved one simply means you can’t do anything about the situation that happened in the past. You can identify steps you can take to perhaps change the dynamics of the relationships, but you can’t keep on worrying and holding yourself responsible for what happened in the past. The best thing you can do right now is to hold the space so you can heal your wound. That’s it. Once you make the decision to focus on healing rather than blaming someone/something, you are on the path to let it go.
Reason 4: Letting go means change and change can be scary. Unfortunately, we can be addicted to suffering. Suffering can be more comfortable than letting go because suffering is familiar. Letting go means it is unknown and unknown is scary.
What Will Help: This technique may not make much sense first but it will once you practice it. Allow some room for mistakes. Change is scary when you have high expectations for the outcome of the change. When you allow some room for errors or mistakes, you are not afraid of failing as much. That certainly helps to let things go a little easier.
Reason 5: Letting go makes you feel weak because most people equate letting go with giving up or giving in when it’s neither of it. Letting go is beyond giving in or giving up. Letting go means feeling free. It means choosing to be in this moment instead of being in the past. As I said earlier, it means to heal rather than blame.
What Will Help: Face the fears that stop you from letting go. See if you can identify what are you afraid of if you let go of the things. For example, you might be afraid of letting go your anger towards someone who has hurt you in the past. Letting go of the anger might mean you will have to let the person back into your life again, which means I am afraid s/he might hurt me again. Facing this fear will allow you to be conscious of this subconscious fear that is holding you back. Now you can let go of the past hurt and create better boundaries so the person either is not back in your life or can’t hurt you. However, holding onto the anger against the person is not healthy for you and is not helping you protect yourself from such hurts again.
Letting Go vs. Suppressing
I would like to say a word or two about letting go versus suppressing your feelings. Letting go is not as same as suppressing, which means avoidance and not addressing things. Knowing the difference between the two will help you in the process of letting go. When you quickly brush things off instead of actually letting things go, you are avoiding and suppressing your emotions. This act of coping pushes down the unprocessed feelings but never leave your body. Suppression transforms into emotional, mental, and physical dis-eases. If you have no other method of processing your feelings, journaling is a great technique to start with.
Gurpreet Kaur, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Dr. Gurpreet Kaur is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor, Life Coach, Speaker, and an Author. Dr. Kaur is very passionate about self-love, self-empowerment, wellness, reaching the full potential, and applying quantum mechanics principles to daily life. Dr. Kaur teaches a step-by-step self-care process to live a mentally and emotionally healthy life.