Why you need to let go
Accept yourself, love yourself, and keep moving forward. If you want to fly, you have to give up what weighs you down.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
The things you personally hold on to keep ‘you’ in the past. That’s right, I said what I said. While others hold onto their own things, the things that keep you stagnated are only holding you back and that’s simply unfair to your future self.
Why do we commonly hold on rather than letting go?
People hold on to a range of things — sometimes physical items like a piece of jewellery, clothing that no longer fits, an old letter, postcard or photo and, sometimes it’s non-physical items such as social media friendships, specific ideals that no longer serve you, habits and even character traits from childhood.
As humans, we hold onto things from our past whether we realise it or not. Holding onto these things comes naturally as many of these items have helped us to build personalities or coping mechanisms throughout life. Many instil memories of a better time or take our stressors away temporarily. They have in a sense become a part of us — the person that created us today.
What we hold onto makes us feel safe and secure
As we develop from children to young adults, we find our sense of self through viewing others. We emulate those traits we find endearing and work on not being like people we disagree with or dislike. Ultimately, we’re building a character. This doesn’t stop throughout early adulthood and onwards but, it seems as we hit adulthood developing our own sense of self becomes far more difficult.
Trying to wear more than one hat is tiresome — being a loving partner, a daughter, a son, a student, a colleague, a cook, a cleaner, a house owner, a crisis handler, a wife, a husband, a maternal or paternal character, a mum or a dad; it can all be very hard to navigate as we find there’s a fine line of separation between each of the hats we’re expected to wear.
In order to keep our selves together, we grasp onto what we know. People, objects and memories — our attachments from the past.
In doing so it stops us as adults from developing and moving forward. Instead, we stagnate, many feeling like they lose a part of who they really are and in a way it's true.
Think about those you know from your past, grandparents for example — many held firm views on life in general. What you should do, the cycle of life, how you should act and anything out with those views was inappropriate. For that generation this was their coping mechanism however, it resulted in many marriages being unhappy, many stereotypes never being resolved, monotony and regrets as they aged.
Today we have progressed where opinions and views are fluid. People are fluid. Life can be fluid — if you go with the flow and let go.
The first step in letting go is to decide to start.
Let’s declutter your life to make way for new opportunities. This will be hard but just remember, the physical items you remove do not remove your memories but will give you some breathing space. If that person returns you can create new memories in the future.
Social media — do you know who you are friends with? Letting go of people doesn’t mean you don’t care about them; it simply means you care about yourself more. Learning to put yourself first is paramount to this working. From your personal accounts remove people you do not know and those you haven’t spoken to in six months.
Your technology — All the technology. Let’s remove those documents you don’t need but saved just ‘in case’. Are you saving a ton of screenshots in case someone starts drama? Delete, delete, delete. That drama serves no purpose in your future. Delete it. Likewise, any photos, quotes, memes, and inspirational things that haven’t seen the light of day in months — delete it.
Wardrobe — If it helps, measure your body to find out your sizing. Do you have just in case you lose or put on weight clothes? Donate them. They are holding you back and making you live in the what-if past. You don’t live there anymore. If you lose weight, then buy something nice to celebrate your body. If you gain weight, then buy something nice to celebrate your body. Help others out by donating clothes and accessories to charity rather than throwing them out.
Old memories boxes — Do you have boxes of memories? Heck, maybe a suitcase or two even? Haul them out, let’s go over this. If anything relates to a living ex, bin it, donate it, just remove it from your presence. If it relates to family and loved ones celebrate it. Is it something you can scan in to save online? Is it something that can be neatly put into photo albums? Is it something you would want future generations to see? If the answers no, then get rid of it. Your memories are in your mind, decluttering your life will preserve them.
I will cover more steps in further articles. Four is enough initially to make the largest progress as these are the most difficult steps.
If we look at many of the historical theorists they all say that as humans we strive for comfort, safety, and protection. Sometimes people and memories from our past give us something to hold onto because moving forward into new and unknown situations can be difficult — we find we have no safety barrier to cushion any of those what-ifs and that can be terrifying. To make us feel safe we hold on, we return back to places we’ve already been, relationships that already fizzled out and situations that can be negative.
Letting go allows us to venture into the scary unknown but with a free mind. One that can look at the new problems or situations with a mindful eye — viewing things from a new perspective, possibly passing less judgement than before, understanding, and observing situations differently which leads us to personal growth.
Letting go enables us to see things differently from how we used to. It allows us to see far more unbiased positives and fairly judged negatives. Much like the little child version of yourself, seeing life in a new way allows us to also create positives in our own future.
Emulation rather than stagnation. You can do this baby bird.