What does it mean to just “let it go”? Does it mean to forget, to forgive, not to dwell on something that hurt you? Whom does it benefit? These are all questions I’ve asked myself again and again, and I think I’ve discovered some healthy truths.
What letting go is not:
Letting go is not saying things that hurt you don’t hurt. It’s also not saying something that happened is okay or even forgiven. Some things may be unforgivable or just take a very long time and a lot of healing in order to be forgiven. Letting go is not saying to the world that we are okay now. It’s not an admission of wrong-doing or a caving to a demand from another and it’s not an end point to pain.
What letting it go is:
There’s something profoundly important and helpful about the idea of letting go of what no longer serves you. But again, what does that mean and how do you do it?
Letting go can be breaking the habit of continually re-introducing thoughts and feelings that cause us pain. It can be the act of not allowing ourselves to go down the path of living out a scenario or multiple scenarios in our head, or creating new dialogue which might keep causing us trauma. It can be allowing the memory of something painful to come, to feel it, and then to let it melt away.
There are measurable benefits to letting go of habits, memories, and people who no longer serve our best interests. Here are a few of them.
Getting stressed out can be a reaction we have when things don’t go the way we want them to. Sometimes, through no fault of our own, things just do not lean in our favor. When this is the case, it’s important to recognize that we can’t control or fix every situation, make arrangements for things to go as we plan, but we can detach ourselves from the outcome, and embrace the reality of what is…because perpetuating a cycle of stress and resistance to any situation that’s not in our control will only cause more suffering.
Better relationships with friends and family
When the people closest to us don’t behave the way we want them to, it can often cause frustration or irritation. The primary reason for this has to do with control. Our lack of control over another’s behavior and over the situation in general leaves us feeling overwhelmed and annoyed. The solution to this is to allow others to have the freedom to react as they choose (within reason), and to be who they are without pushing our agenda onto them. Of course, we don’t have to tolerate lack of respect, but allowing those we love to have their own reactions while we detach from the outcome can do wonders for our relationships.
It’s likely that there are some fears in our lives limiting the way we behave in the world. These fears, at their core, have to do with our desire how we want things to be. It can be fear of losing control, fear of putting our trust in others, fear of showing vulnerability or fear of failure. All these fears have one solution…letting go.
The idea of letting go seems so simple. However, anyone who has tried it knows it’s really not that easy! To let go, we must dig deep into ourselves and find our vulnerability. If we’re able to let go and begin anew, we will probably find that we are suffering less from stress, bothered less by struggles from the past, not overwhelmed by frustration with the people we love and not overcome with fear. By letting go of things that are holding us back, what we’re really doing is setting ourselves free.