WHY DO I HAVE A HARD TIME LETTING GO AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
We’ve all been blessed with heart-breaking situations where people have wronged us or things haven’t gone the way we would like. Moving past them is difficult.
If you’ve ended a relationship, job or time in your life, it’s tough to let go and move on. Your subconscious, or monkey mind, wants to hold onto it like a dog that won’t let go of a bone. It wants to chew on it, gnaw and dig into the painful center of it.
Your logical mind gets sucked up into the drama of the monkey. You start to think of “what if’s” and “if only’s” that your monkey mind creates to add even more drama and negative feelings.
It would be so much easier to just let go and move on with your life, but the monkey won’t let you.
You try to let go. You move onto the next relationship or job. Just when things seem to be going well again, the old thoughts start to arise again, sabotaging things.
Why is it so hard to let go? Why is it so difficult to forgive and forget?
The Need to Be Right
Because you’ve been wronged and your monkey needs to prove itself right. Safety is the monkey mind’s number one priority, and being wrong is not safe.
The monkey will go out of its way to dream up all the reasons that you were right and the other person or aspects of the situation were wrong. It won’t let go of the need to be right.
But there you are, stuck in the middle with your monkey screeching in one ear and your wiser self whispering in the other, urging you to move on.
Letting go can be hard because it means letting go of aspects of your past – aspects of you. It also means letting go of your expectations of how things should have been.
Letting go hints of being wrong or allowing someone else to be right (when you know that what they did was wrong).
Unfortunately, it’s all in the past and there’s nothing you can do about it. The drama, the holding on, is in your own mind.
You are the only one with the power to let it go.
Rather than possibly admitting defeat and letting go, what if there were another way? A more mindful way that has nothing to do with right and wrong. What if, instead of letting go, you simply let things be.
Allow them to be as they are.
Let It Be
If you were wronged, it’s because you told yourself that you were, and then you make up a story about that.
One of the core tenets of mindfulness is to observe without judgment.
Making people or things right or wrong involves passing judgment on them.
Could you look at the situation differently or more objectively? Could you create a different story about it? What lessons could you then glean from the whole mess? How could it help you?
Tapping can help you to safely face your painful past and remove the emotional sting.
There’s a saying that the only way past fear is through it. All negative emotions are based in fear. An inability to let go is based in fear. If you weren’t afraid of letting go, you would have done it already.
People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar. ~Thich Nhat Hanh”
Depending on the level of severity of the situation you’re dealing with, you may be able to work through the emotions on your own. Here’s a process you can work through to loosen the grip of the “letting go” situation:
- Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Give yourself at least 30 minutes (an hour would be better) as you won’t want to break the flow of the process.
- Sit in a relaxed position in a chair or on the floor.
- Close your eyes and take ten deep breaths to calm and centre yourself. Focus on the process of your breathing. Don’t force it to be anything. Just allow your body to breathe however it needs to.
- When you feel calm, think about the thing you want to let go of, the thing you want to release. Feel the feelings that come up. Don’t hold anything back.
- Focus on the strongest feeling. Exactly where do you feel it in your body? All emotions create homes in our bodies which create physical sensations (pain, heat, cold, numbness, tightness, etc.).
- Focus on the feeling in your body. Take time to understand exactly where it is and what the sensations are. Don’t try to make them go away as this will only cause them to persist. Objectively observe the sensation. Describe it in as much detail as possible. As you do this, the sensation may change and evolve. Stay with it.
- Once you’re clear on what and where the sensation is, ask it what message it’s trying to deliver. These types of messages come from your True Self and are there to help you grow and heal. The message may or may not be words. It may be colours, feelings, smells or any number of things. Be open to whatever arises. It may or may not be something that makes sense to you. Don’t judge it as good, bad, right, wrong, crazy or anything else. Simply be with it and allow the messages to come forward.
- When you feel that you’ve received as much of the message as you can, take ten deep breaths, focusing on the process and sensations of breathing.
- At this point, you can either sit with your experience or move to a different sensation in your body and repeat the last three steps.
- Open your eyes and start writing whatever comes up for you in a journal or notebook. Pen and paper work best for this process (no electronics). Keep writing for as long as you can without judging any of it. Neither you nor anything you write is wrong, crazy, stupid or any other negative judgment. Equally, neither you nor anything you write is right, brilliant or awesome. It simply is.
- In your journal, answer these questions: How can what I just experienced help me to move forward in my life? Can I see the difficult experience differently? Can I see myself differently? What can I do to minimize the emotional toll of similar experiences in the future and let them go as they occur? What would be a more supportive story I can tell myself about the situation?
- Repeat this process on a weekly basis until you feel that you can truly let go and move forward. I suggest weekly in order to give your subconscious time to work through what comes up in each session. You may have a revelation three days after a session that didn’t occur to you while you were originally journaling.
This process is like peeling an onion. Each session can bring you a little closer to your True Self and a better understanding of more supportive ways of handling future situations.
As new thoughts, feelings and emotions arise between sessions, write about them in your journal. During your journaling sessions, write until you feel that there’s nothing left to write about. Dig deep.
So often, it’s difficult to move past a feeling about a situation because you repeat a surface-level loop of thoughts and stories about it without moving any deeper. Journaling is a powerful tool that allows you to delve deeper and release what your monkey mind keeps pent up by its constant chatter.
Feeling the difficult feelings of something you want to let go of, examining how they manifest in your body and journaling about it all is a process of moving through and past your fears and creating a more empowered life.
The past is what it is and can’t be changed. You have the ability to create more empowering stories about it. Everyone lives in their own reality based on the stories they tell themselves about who and how they are.
It’s up to you to re-write your story.
What do you want to let go of? What patterns would you rather not repeat? What new narrative can you apply to the past to support your True Self?