“Suffering is not holding you. You are holding suffering.”
As a human we are a combination of what has happened to us. This is widely known in psychology wherein they say that a person, in part, is the recombination of his or her past experiences.
And it’s a good thing. Your past holds a significant importance as it teaches you important life lessons that are a part of becoming a more mature and sensible person.
The problem arises when those past experiences become you, and you begin to identify yourself from the past experiences you had.
In essence, your past, not your potential becomes your identity. This hinders your growth and development as a human being.
It’s good to have some scars, but it is more important to not let those define you as a person, or else you would become a mere victim to your life.
There is an analogy that puts into perspective the importance of letting go: Imagine that you are given a task of holding a glass of water with your index finger and thumb, your arm stretched straight in front of you.
You stretch out your arm and pick up the glass of water. Easy peasy.
It does not pose any problem at all. In fact, you would be smiling and cracking jokes while holding the glass because it’s weight is almost negligible.
And your arm is too strong so much so that you can hold the glass forever without any problem, you think.
But after a while that glass of water seems to be getting heavier and it begins to get a little painful to hold it. Still, it’s no big deal and you keep holding it.
But then the intensity of the pain increases and the glass of water, which was almost weightless now feels to be very heavy. You will try with all your might to keep clutching it, but finally, you will give up and let go of the glass.
This is exactly what happens with the little things that you keep in your mind which you decide to not let go.
They seem light enough to carry around all your life on your back. But after a period of time, they gain a significant weight and you will have to drop them altogether in order to free yourself from the pain they are causing you.
This is why it is so important to let go of the past. In order to move forward, and get ahead, you have to let go of what’s behind you.
This article is all about letting go and help you drop all the baggage that you have been carrying around up until now in your life.
Because at some point, you just have to let go. So why not today?
Why not right now?
Step 1: Write all the pain
The first step to letting go is writing down the things that are causing you emotional pain of some sort.
Avid reader of this blog will notice that I propose writing down before any process. This is because writing down makes the problem tangible, something which you can work on.
When you write something down, it’s no longer just a thought but an event on which you can decided what action to take.
Don’t hold yourself back on this one. Write everything down which you feel is draining you of your emotional energy.
Did your previous partner cheated on you? Was it the physical abuse from a family member? The abandonment from your family? Or ostracization from the society?
Write down whatever has been bugging you forever. Even the things you don’t consider ‘heavy enough’, because after a period of time, they will be.
Step 2: Acceptance
The second step is to accept what happened to you.
People find it difficult to let go simply because they can’t accept what had happened to them. They are looking for the answers.
“Why did that happen to me? “ or
“Why did he behave the way he did? “ or
“Why didn’t I get enough love from my parents?”
Even though I completely understand the need for the answers the people crave, there are times when you don’t get the answers all your life. That doesn’t mean you will harbor resentment and pain all your life.
If you want to get closure, you just have to accept that it happened to you. No more and no less.
No matter how harrowing the experience might have been, more often than not you are not going to get the answer of why certain things happened to you.
You will have to make peace with the fact that they occurred. Avoid the impulse of denying or finding answers. Maybe there are, maybe not.
The best thing you can do about the past is accept that it happened, and move on.
Most people remain stuck in the past because in the back of their minds they are always criticizing, condemning, and reprimanding themselves for whatever happened to them and how they could have fixed it.
“I could/ would have/should have said this, or that or did this, that, or the other in that situation. Oh! I am so stupid to not do that.“
This is a vicious trap because now it’s all behind you, there is nothing you can change about it. You are only punishing yourself by replaying the past in your head.
The best thing you can do about your mistakes and errors is to learn from them.
And if you have realized that a mistake was committed, then the work is done, and it’s time to let go.
Step 3: Forgiveness
The third step is to forgive the other person for the harm they did to you.
We have often heard that forgiveness is a sign of strength, and that is true.
When you forgive the other person, you are in a way saying , I completely accept for what you did to me, but I am letting go of it and you, because it is causing me pain.
And it is not at all important to tell the person that you are forgiving him or her to his or her face. Forgiveness is not what you do for others, but for yourself.
It is you who will benefit from it.
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
And you have to truly forgive them. Faking doesn’t work here. Faking doesn’t work anywhere, in my opinion.
It is equally important to forgive yourself for all the error and mistakes that you may have committed.
There are no bad decisions, only the ones you learn from.
Doing mistakes is part of being human. Everybody makes mistakes, but you should never let those mistakes define you as a person.
It’s kind of like the scene in the movie Goodwill Hunting, where the professor keeps telling Matt Damon that it’s not his fault which he keeps denying, until eventually he breaks down into tears.
I strongly recommend that movie for an insight into letting go.
Step 4: Learning from it
The next step is learning from your past.
Remember the old adage, “every cloud has a silver lining”? That is exactly what we are doing here.
The catch is that you can find the silver lining in your clouds only when you stop finding answer, stop trying to fix your past, accept it as it happened and forgive the other and yourself from it.
This will take the negative energy out of the event and help you see the event in a more neutral light.
Look into it and see that the event that happened has taught you something worthwhile.
Maybe you won’t commit that mistake again, maybe you will choose a right partner in future, or you gained emotional strength as a result of that event. Whatever the case, look for the positive that you gained from it.
Now please don’t think that I am belittling the suffering you went through in any way.
Maybe you were molested as a child, and I can’t even begin to understand the depth of your pain if that’s the case. What is positive about that one? You ask.
Honestly, nothing. Still it’s a whole lot better for you to accept the event, instead of denying it or wanting to find the answers, and forgiving the ones who were responsible for the trauma you suffered.
The pain is only dragging you down, and not the perpetrator.
There is an old African proverb that will resonate with you:
“The axe forgets but the tree remembers.”
You don’t have to forget the event. You can’t and you don’t have to. You just have to accept and forgive (which I admit is extremely difficult.)
Step 5: Letting go
The final step is actually letting go of the past.
Again, letting go doesn’t mean forgetting or wiping out the memory of event. It simply means that you don’t let those events define your personality.
You have to let go of the past to let future take place.
Letting go is the law of nature. It’s how things move forward.
You have to make emotional space for positivity to come. If your emotions are clogged with negative energy of the past, you would find it difficult to have a healthy lifestyle.
There are tools available online for free that would help you in letting go.
One of the most effective I have found is ‘The Sedona Method‘.
Initially I was very skeptical of any method claiming to help me let go of my emotional baggage. That takes an expensive therapist and a lot of time doesn’t it?
Turns out I was wrong.
Sedona method is a simple tool which would help you let go with ease and simplicity.
You can check the method out on their website. They have provided the process for free of cost, and like I said, it’s a breeze and provides instant emotional relief.
Acceptance, forgiveness and letting go is how we move forward in life.
Holding grudges, pain and resentments act as shackles which prevent us from moving around freely and enjoying life to the fullest.
Letting go doesn’t mean fixing the thing that caused you pain. It means to let go in spite of the thing.
“To let go does not mean to get rid of. To let go means to let be. When we let be with compassion, things come and go on their own.”
Share your experience with letting go in the comments section below.
Until Next Time, you all