Why letting go can be so hard
“I cannot wait to sleep in my own bed!”, “I miss Schnitzel!”, “Home sweet home!” These are the kind of citations, you may also know from fellow travelers, which I have never been able to share. In contrast I always feel sadness and worries as soon as a journey comes to its end. I do not want to let go of the places I visit (with the one single exception when I was in China ^^), neither the associated emotions of excitement, happiness and relief that arise while traveling.
The other day I had a flashback chat with close friends about our youth, our (puberty driven^^) feelings at that time and of course also our first love, going in hand with the first break up. While bringing up all these old memories I realised that already back then I had serious trouble with letting go. A characteristic I have been carrying with my personality up till now.
There are always breaking points in life requiring letting go at some point: an ended journey, a drifted-apart friendship, a lost job, a broken-up relationship …
I have been thinking about “letting go” a lot in the last year. I caught myself in several situations where letting go would simply have been better and healthier for me, my mind and soul. Holding on to something that at some point is supposed to become part of your past and not any more of your future, can be a devastating burden. It lessens concentration, triggers negative thinking and consequently hinders a forward looking attitude.
Why is it just so hard to let go?
Before I could find out how to let go (spoiler alert: I still haven’t found out for real), I tried to identify the reasons that give me such a hard time trying.
Whenever we need to let go of something, it consequently has a major changing effect on our future.
Firstly, I identified it being so hard because letting go does not only concern the past. It also affects the idea of ones future. Seeing new places, meeting new people and trying new things in our lives add up to options and opportunities for our future. And whether we like it or not, we have been raised in a society in which we are used to making plans for our future. Competitive and ambitious as we are, we are always trying hard to achieve our plans and the future as we picture it. The ended journey, a gone friend, the lost job or the broken-up relationship: in either way letting go means rebuilding our future at the same time.
Second reason that I figured making letting go so hard is the fact, that the past cannot be changed anymore. When you are sitting in the plane, train, bus or car back home from a journey there is no way to change what has happened. Letting go means closing a chapter that cannot be changed or re-written anymore.
How does it get easier to let go?
As mentioned earlier, I do not have THE recipe for letting go and still consider myself more of the sticking kind of person^^. However, in theory I think the following 2 strategies can at least help:
In case of regrets or missed out opportunities do not linger in the specific moment in the past, but learn for the future instead.
1. Acceptance! First of all it needs acceptance (1) of the happenings and (2) that the past cannot be changed any more. In case of happenings out of your own hand, where someone else’s action or behavior gives you a hard time… well, I don’t know really. I guess it helps at some point also here to accept. Empathy can help (or least it did sometimes in my case) as it supports understanding the opposite’s opinion, situation they are in and the resulting behavior.
When accepting the past, the mind is free to look forward again.
2. Looking forward! I used to dislike this saying but in the big picture of life I think there lays something true in it: when one door closes, another one opens. Or as I like to put it: After the holidays is before the holidays! So when one chapter is closed and let go of, there will a new one be written in any event. Therefore letting go again has much more to do with the future than with the past.
However, my personal take away (so far) from all the reflecting on letting go is that I am proud of all the experiences I have made on my (life) journey so far and packed with gathered knowledge and learnings I am looking forward to making all the new memories and journeys that are still waiting to be made.
PS: and if my post was not a help to you at all, this soundtrack will surely do better: