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Letting Go

March 19, 2024 | Jessie Nolasco-Sandino, LMSW | 5 min. read

We’re officially in March and Spring is in the air! It’s the right timing, because as we let go of the winter season, we can also talk about the theme of this month, letting go.

What does it mean to let go? How do we do it? What are the benefits of letting go? I hope that these questions will spark a curiosity in us to search for these answers because letting go can be a tremendous life skill in our growth, in our lives, and our relationships. Similar to spring cleaning, if there are emotional and mental loads that no longer serve us well, we can begin to let go.

Letting Go | OMHG Blog

In therapy, letting go refers to the emotional or mental release of personal attachments, people, places or things that are holding us back or weighing us down. For example, instead of clinging to someone that no longer loves us or forcing a situation to turn out a certain way, we let go of that need or desire and instead practice acceptance of what is or what needs to happen. “This makes the concept of acceptance, or actively embracing experiences, thoughts, and feelings, a crucial part of what it means to let go” (Hayes et al., 2006).

Undeniably, we all experience situations in our lives which cause us sadness, anger or fear. These are powerful emotions and they tend to either set us back or stagnate us in our development. It’s not our fault, our brain is a learning machine and when it experiences events that we do not think of as safe, it will inevitably try to limit our lives in a misguided attempt to protect us. Yet I know many of us, if not all of us, want to grow, be better and learn from our mistakes without allowing past transgressions to weigh us down. So how do we move on from those experiences that seem to have such a powerful influence over us? The answer is learning how to let go.

Letting go is the art of releasing the weight of what once was, freeing ourselves from the burdens we carry.

It is a courageous act of surrender, a choice to unclench our fists and allow life to flow. To let the transition that is happening to happen. In the act of letting go, we find liberation—a gentle unraveling of attachments, a peaceful acceptance of what cannot be changed. It is a profound acknowledgment of our humanity, recognizing that we are not defined by what we cling to but by the vastness of our capacity to evolve. Letting go is not a defeat, but rather a triumph of the spirit, as we embrace the unknown with open arms, ready to write new chapters of our story unbound by the chains of the past.

What are the steps for letting go?

1. Reflect on whether you’re ready to let go

Take a moment and pause. Then, consider asking yourself a few questions, such as: Is this person or experience taking more from you than it’s giving you? Are you feeling a pull away from this person or experience? Or, are you feeling like you need to stay and continue working on improving this part of your life?

2. Explore what’s stopping you from letting go

Then consider questions or thoughts that may be preventing you from letting go and getting out of your comfort zone. What has been stopping you? Are you unsure? Are you afraid? Are you not sure what the next steps are?

It’s okay to wait until the time feels right to you to let go.

3. Create your ‘letting go’ plan

Finally, if you’re ready to let go, make the decision to do it, commit to your decision, and plan out the steps you’ll take to achieve the action plan set forth. What will be the action steps you’ll take? When will you take them? How will you overcome expected challenges as you let go? The clearer you can be about your plan, the easier it can be to execute and implement.

I hope you are able to let go of something or someone that has been holding you back. It is okay to see it as a lesson learned and move along in your self-growth. It’ll be uncomfortable and unknown at first, but once letting go begins to occur, it becomes easier and part of the self-healing life journey.

References:

Letting Go: How to Put The Past, Anger, & Fear Behind You — The Berkeley Well-Being Institute (berkeleywellbeing.com)

Hayes, S. C., Luoma, J. B., Bond, F. W., Masuda, A., & Lillis, J. (2006). Acceptance and commitment therapy: Model, processes and outcomes. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44(1), 1-25.

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