“Let it go,” is such a common piece of advice that it’s almost become a cliché. When something is really bothering you, or there’s something you’re particularly attached to, it rarely seems so simple. How exactly do you let go?
Here’s a suggested five-step process:
- Recognize what it is that you are holding on to. The clearer you get about what it is that you are struggling to let go of, the easier it will be to release it. Be objective. Contemplate it, meditate on it, or write about it in a journal. Try to get to the bottom of why you’ve not managed to let go of this thing already.
- Analyze the impact that holding on is having. Is it causing you fear, anxiety or stress? Be objective and honest. Rather than dwelling on the thing itself, consider the reprecussions your attachment to it is having. (Read more in The Nature of Fear.)
- Know that you will be OK when you let go. Meditation is one of the best ways to help yourself in this step of the process. When you practice meditation regularly, you learn that thoughts and emotions rise and also fall away. Everything we experience is ultimately transient, except your inner self, which is always OK and quietly observes all that goes on. Make time to cultivate a deeper connection with your inner self. You will find that things you were hanging on to begin to matter less and less.
- Choose to mindfully let go. Deliberately choose to release the thoughts or emotions you are stuck on. Cultivate the inner peace and calm that allows you to maintain this. If you find yourself ruminating again, gently yet firmly remind yourself to release your mind's grasp on it. Do this as many times as you need to until it becomes automatic. (Read more in The Art of Mindfulness.)
- Be kind to yourself. The process of letting go is rarely easy. We refer to things we’re holding on to as attachments because, by their very nature, they are sticky things. Accept this and be compassionate with yourself if you struggle to let go.
The more you practice letting go, the more you learn that you’ll be OK. You will be able to enjoy the freedom and happiness it brings. In the end, it’s not the things themselves that are the issue, but rather our attachment to them. Let that go and you may be surprised by just how good you find yourself feeling.