Letting go is a beautiful action. It opens life to hope, happiness, and possibility. It releases us from the things what weigh us down.
Actually letting go isn’t always easy. Sometimes we don’t know where to start. Sometimes we have held on so long that we don’t know what else to do. Sometimes our feelings are so powerful that letting go feels like betraying ourselves.
A reader emailed me today asking about letting go. I offered a few suggestions in reply but as I thought more about the topic of letting go I realized there’s so much more to it. There’s not just one way to let go, and even after letting go sometimes we pick it right back up again out of hurt or habit. Often we must let go again and again, in different ways.
One of these ways may just work for you.
19 Ways to Let Go
01. Be in the moment
When you are present to this moment only, you are not burdened by the past or worried about the future. Practice mindful exercises like quietly observing each of your senses or noticing the smallest details of your current environment.
02. Get shit done
Do something productive. Focus on what you’re doing. Loose yourself in the task at hand.
03. Stop talking about it
The more you talk about what’s bothering you, the bigger it becomes in your mind. Stop talking about for at least a week.
04. Stop thinking about it
When you catch yourself thinking about the thing you want to let go of, gently redirect your thoughts to something else.
05. Be your best self
If you find yourself concerned with what other people do or don’t do, stop and think about how you can be your best self today. You can’t control anyone else’s awesomeness but you do control your own!
06. Throw it away
Write about the thing you want to let go of and destroy the paper. Crumble it up, tear it up, burn it, shred it, and throw it away.
Photo by alongfortheride
07. Let it float away
Visualize your worry written on a balloon and watch the balloon float up up up into the sky, higher and higher until you lose sight of it. It’s no longer yours.
08. Laugh about it
Think of your concern as a pile of fresh horse manure and imagine yourself rolling in shit. Now have a good laugh and choose whether or not you’re going to roll in manure today.
09. Put it in perspective
Is what you’re holding on to helping you live a full, happy, and productive life? Realize that it happened in the past, and that experience was just one experience in your life. Think about all the other experiences you’ve had and will have in the future. Doesn’t seem so big now, does it?
You tend to hold on when you have an intense emotional attachment to the person, memory, or situation. Try detaching from the emotional attachment- things aren’t always how they feel. For example, you may feel fear when you are perfectly safe from harm.
11. Put it down
Find a large, sturdy tree and imagine placing your worries on the tree’s strong branches, or find a special box to store your worries. You don’t need to carry them around all day, do you?
12. Get physical
It’s extremely difficult to hold on to stress and worry when you’re exercising your body. Go for a walk, a bike ride, or run. Try yoga or pilates. Engage your physical body and your concerns will fade- at least for a time.
13. Help others
Be of service to others and your concerns won’t feel as big. Do something to help someone else and you’ll empower yourself to let go!
14. Face it
You can’t let go of the things you can’t face. Try journaling about the situation and be honest with yourself about your part in it. Ask yourself, “what’s my truth?”
15. Take responsibility for yourself
When you take responsibility for yourself and you are no longer at the mercy of the people and situations in life. What happens around you certainly affects you but you’re responsible for what you do next. This is your life! Own it, live it, love it!
16. Take care of yourself
You can’t let go when you’re exhausted, angry, hungry, or lonely. Take care of yourself and you’ll find you have more strength to let go.
17. Let go of judgement
You are more likely to hold on when you’re judging yourself or others- sometimes what you really need to let go of is your judgement.
Be loving and kind. Recognize that we’re all human beings, doing the best we can with what we have. Sometimes we’ll make a mess of things. Sometimes we’ll act like complete jerks. We still deserve love and kindness.
19. Try again
If you let go and pick it back up, let go again. And again. And again. It’s not a perfect process but you’ll get there.