ďWhen I let go of what I am, I become what I might beĒ
- Lao Tzu
ďWe need to learn to let go as easily as we grasp and we will find our hands full and our minds empty.Ē
- Leo F. Buscaglia
We often carry with us a lot of stuff. Not in our hands perhaps. But in our minds. It can become like you are carrying half the world on your back. Not very helpful. So you need to let go of things. Not only to move lighter and more freely. But also to be able to fully move forward in life.
So how do you let things go?
I am certainly not expert at this but here are few tips that have made it easier for me to let go.
- Ask yourself helpful questions. Questions like: is this helping me or is it just some nonsense or something Iím reliving from the past? Or am I clinging to it because itís what I have known for such a long time and it seems comfortable and safe even though it is holding me back?
- Give up ďbeing rightĒ. Realize that you may cling to things because they might make you feel right as you replay an argument or conflict over and over in your mind. It gives you a certain sense of satisfaction as the other person is wrong. But you have to give up that kind of satisfaction to move on.
- Understand that you get better at letting go as time passes. Not just because what you are carrying gets lighter with time and less painful. But also because your mind over time Ė for me it took months of practise Ė becomes more and more open to letting things go. It understands that letting go is something you can do nowadays. That itís just a mental habit.
- Accept it. Then let it go. If you have read this blog for a while you know I like acceptance. I like it because when you accept something instead of resisting it you stop feeding more energy into your problem and making it even bigger. A bit counterintuitive. This is also useful when it comes to letting go. If you first accept what you want to let go you arenít so emotionally attached to it and still feeding it with your focus and energy. And so it becomes less powerful and easier to just drop. As long as you resist it then it will be hard to let it go.
- Let it go if it shows up again. In my experience itís pretty common that what you let go shows up in your thoughts again. And thatís ok. Just let it go each time it shows up. After a while it stops showing up.
Here are a few things you might want to let go of.
Let go of negative, small, petty and unimportant stuff.
If you dwell on that stuff Ė like how someone cut in front of you while you were driving or something negative your boss told you Ė and blow it out of proportion all the time how will you be happy? How will you be able to focus? And how will you be able to handle something really big when it comes along like a serious disease, a break up or getting laid off? Be smart about that stuff.
Donít make yourself weak by making mountains out of molehills. Let that stuff go and focus on the more important and positive stuff you have and want in you life.
Let go of distracting stuff.
Itís easy to get caught up in checking your inbox all the time. Or filling your time with tasks that are kinda important but in the end are mostly distractions.
Letting that distracting stuff go from your life and thoughts as best you can makes is a lot easier to focus, find free time and remain on track to do what is most important for you in life.
Let go of trying to control the results of your actions.
This post is about this quote from the ancient Sanskrit Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita:
ďTo action alone hast thou a right and never at all to its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive; neither let there be in thee any attachment to inactionĒ
This quote tells me to understand that I cannot control the results of my action. I canít control how someone reacts to what I say or what I do. And that I should do what I do just because it is something I want to do rather than because of some outcome Iíd like. But at the same time I should not let these two ideas lead me to become passive and get stuck in sitting on my hands and not taking action at all.
Basically, I do what I think is right and that is my responsibility. And then the rest (the possible results), well, that is not up for me to decide about or try to control. I let it go.
Let go of information you donít need.
If you have read a lot about personal development then you might have a lot of tips on different topics in your head. To simplify your life and thinking you might not need 25 ways to handle nervousness.
Now articles with that many tips can be helpful but itís important to try that stuff out for yourself and see what tips that work most effectively for you. And then simplify so you always know what action to take if you get nervous for example. Instead of having your mind so cluttered with information that you become paralyzed and take no action at all.
Let go of the past and old self-images.
I think this can be a big problem for many people. They get caught up in the past and relive it over and over (perhaps in their minds as old conflicts are on replay or by making the same negative decisions over and over again). Or sometimes they become trapped in their current circumstances as they think that they are what happened to them in the past. Of course, our self-images are fluid.
A few years ago I for instance saw myself as someone who didnít eat healthy food or was athletic and worked out. Even when I started to do that a bit more I still kinda felt like the person I used to feel like when I was living in an unhealthy way.
Over time I started to think more and more of myself as someone who was healthy. But still shifted between the two self-images of being a healthy person and an unhealthy person. So ¬ since sometime around the beginning of this year I let go of that reassuring past image of myself that felt kinda comfortable. Since then, as my self-image as a healthy person has become consistent in my mind, I find it much easier to work out and eat healthy food. It seems like the natural thing for me to do now.
I think at some point you have to make a shift and let your old identity go if you want to grow. It may be your identity when it comes to health. Or money. Or socially.
If you try to improve but still cling to that old identity of who you were it will be very hard to move forward at your full capacity. And also harder work than it needs to be. When you are not holding on to that past image, when you stop working against yourself, then your current work to improve some part of yourself become more natural and many of the mental obstacles just disappear.
You will still be you if you let your past or an old self-image go. But itís a new you, a simpler and lighter you.
What is your best tip for making it easier to let go of things?