We tend to hold on to things way past their expiration date.
Perhaps it's an expectation of how something should have gone, the belief that you will never find the perfect relationship, or the notion that if you could just lose a few more pounds you'd be so much happier. Maybe it's the expectation that someone who hurt you in the past will finally reach out and apologize, that someone at work will treat you better, or that your boss will finally realize what an asset you are. Maybe it's some old resentment, anger, fear or doubt that just seems to hang around. It could be an old habit, like drinking soda, biting your nails or shopping too much.
Letting go of some things is difficult...especially things that we think will someday be good for us, clinging to the belief that these things will be important someday, but the reality is they aren't worth all the energy we put into them.
There comes appoint in our life we need to do some Spring cleaning. But, like any big project where do we start? The simple answer is...just let go. The reality is, that's not so easy.
For starters, take a clear look at yourself and something you are holding on to. The best way to do that is to try and take a step back. Observe yourself for a minute and pay attention. Try to get some perspective. Get some distance from it, as if you’re sitting comfortably on a sunny mountain looking down on a valley that contains this thing you’ve been holding onto. Exhale and relax and listen to your heart: What’s it telling you about this attachment? Are the conditions truly present to have it come true? Is it worth its costs? Is it simply out of your hands? Reflect on whether this thing you're holding on to is helping you or holding you back. Be with these reflections—sit peacefully in some place that is beautiful or sacred to you—and let the answers sink in. Try to pay attention to your heart rather than the random thoughts your mind throws at you. Breathe, listen, reflect.
Experience Letting Go
You can help yourself let something go by making it concrete. For example, put a small stone or other object in your hand and imagine that it is the thing you’ve been attached to. Hold onto it tightly; let your desires and thoughts about it flow through awareness; feel the costs related to it; and when you’re ready, open your hand and drop it—then pay attention to any sense of relief, freedom, ease, or insight. You could do a similar practice by writing a note about this attachment, and then tearing it up and letting its pieces fall away. Or you could talk with someone you trust—perhaps a friend or coach, or in your own kind of prayer—and explore the attachment, communicate your intentions to move on, and let it go. How does the thought of letting go make you feel?
You might still have the wish that something work out, but you no longer feel driven, compelled, intense, fixed, caught up, identified, or strongly desirous about it. You have accepted the way it is. You have surrendered; in a healthy sense, you have given up. Make space for the disappointment or grieving that’s natural when you let go of something that’s been important for you. It’s normal to feel sad about a loss. Then after a while, it occupies your mind less and less, and you move on to more fruitful things.
Open your mind to the fact that letting go opens up space for more good things to come your way. Opening up makes space for fresh opportunities and possibilities to fill that void. You could be making room for more time, more energy, more peace, more creativity, more space for love...let the good fill the space.
Let yourself be surprised—both by what might replace what you’ve released, and by the power of letting go in general. Remember this thought:
If you let go a little, you will have a little happiness.
If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of happiness.
If you let go completely, you will be completely happy.
(ref: Rick Hanson)