We have a limited capacity to what we can physically carry. That’s why we’re selective about what we bring when we’re going on a trip — we can’t carry everything. And we don’t want to be that person at the airport who’s struggling with two suitcases, a backpack, and a handbag — plus a camera strapped around our neck and one of those travel pillows for good measure.
Just like being that person at the airport who’s trying to bring their whole life with them on the plane, often this is exactly what we do in our lives; we try to carry everything and be friends with everyone. It’s tiring and draining.
We also have a limited capacity to what we can mentally and emotionally carry. Our brains are like computers; they can only hold so much information before they become bogged down.
We can only have a small number of close friends because of our emotional capacity for deep relationships limited. We can be friends with many people, but we can’t be close friends with everyone.
It’s through recognizing our limitations where we can learn to excel within them.
At some point, we all need to let go.
It could be a relationship, an emotion, or a piece of clothing — whatever it is, the only way to move on from it is to let it go.
Holding on is easy.
Within our clenched fingers are security, comfort, and safety. At least that’s how we feel.
We hold on to things in our lives like we’re in the middle of the ocean clinging to a life preserver. But many of the things we’re holding on to aren’t saving our lives, they’re constricting them.
When it feels like we’ll drown if release our grip, how do we let go?
1. Become aware.
The first step is to figure out what you’re actually holding on to.
If we want to travel lighter, we need to examine what we’re carrying in the first place.
We need to take time to reflect, evaluate, and recalibrate. It can be difficult to find time to slow down and spend even a moment reflecting, but this is a necessary step in the process of letting go.
Once we become aware of our baggage, we can properly release it.
Many things in our lives don’t have a good reason to be there. They are just there.
It’s like wearing a heavy backpack without knowing everything that’s inside it. We haul it around because there’s some stuff in it that we need, but in reality, there’s a bunch of rocks in it. Once we open up our backpack and become aware of what’s inside of it we can take out all the rocks and ease our load.
It’s easier to let things pile up than to deal with them. Ignorance doesn’t take a lot of work, that’s why it’s our default.
But if we take the time to become aware we’ll be that much closer to being free from our junk. Awareness is the first step towards finding freedom from the stuff we’re holding on to.
2. Find a new home for it.
Everything has a home, but everything doesn’t belong in your home.
When we find a new home for the things we’re letting go of, it becomes easier to emotionally detach ourselves from them because we know that what we let go of is where it should be.
If I’m letting go of excess clothes, it’s much easier to break off my emotional connection with them when I know they have a new home to go to. Even if that home is the rag box.
When I’m cleaning out old or excess papers, I’m happy to give them a new home in our wood stove — they’re great tinder for starting a fire. Some things can’t be reused or recycled, so their only home is in the trash can. And honestly, certain things just need to be thrown away. There’s no reason to keep trash.
3. Be thankful.
If the most powerful word in the universe is love, then the second most powerful is actually two words; thank you.
Once we’ve found a new home for the thing we’re letting go of, it’s time to say thanks. When we thank something we’re letting go of, we’re releasing our emotional connection to it. We’re acknowledging it for all the good it brought us, then moving on.
When the time came to get rid of my first car I was hesitant — we had been through so much together; road trips, the early morning commute to college, and a handful of accidents and subsequent repairs. My little car kept me safe and got me to where I needed to go. But after nine years it was time to say goodbye.
I thanked my car for all the good things it provided for me and I was content with letting it go. It served its purpose, and I’m thankful for that.
4. Say goodbye.
After becoming aware of what we’re holding on to, finding a new home for it, and thanking it, the time has come for us to say farewell.
I don’t know anyone who likes goodbyes, but when we’re prepared and ready to let go, saying goodbye becomes much easier.
This step is straightforward.
Most of us would rather jump straight to this part when we’re letting go of something, but it’s what happens leading up to the goodbye that prepares us for not having it in our life anymore.
We don’t want to have regrets or feel guilty about our decision, which is why it’s important to prepare ourselves before we severe ties.
Saying goodbye opens the door for new hellos.
Although goodbyes are often sad or bittersweet, there’s a hope in the new beginnings they bring. Even if it’s just the end of our relationship with an old shirt. We can let go of that part of our life and embrace something new.
5. Embrace the newfound freedom.
It feels amazing to let go.
When we let go we should be careful not to stifle that freedom by picking up too much stuff.
Just because there’s an empty space doesn’t mean it needs to be filled.
Whether its physical or emotional things, we can quickly fall back into the same place we were before if we’re not diligent.
The best time to let go is right now.
If we let go right away, we don’t give ourselves the chances to become emotionally attached, so we don’t have to go through all these steps to let go.
Like those moments when we get angry at the person driving super slow in front of us — we can let it go and forget about it. There’s no reason to let a negative moment turn into a negative mindset.
When we smile and say hi to someone and they give you a blank stare — we can brush it off and move on. Who knows why they didn’t reciprocate the kind gesture, what matters is that we did our part.
You are the only person responsible for how you feel.
Our happiness is not defined by outward circumstances or other people, our happiness is and will always be defined by us and what’s going on inside of us. We can choose to feel however we’d like.
Become aware of what you’re holding on to.
Find a new home for it.
Enjoy the newfound freedom.
We are sponges to negativity, stress, and clutter; unless addressed, we can become crippled by the weight of their presence in our lives. That’s why it’s so important to learn how to let go.
Being happy isn’t only about finding and doing only the things that make you happy; it’s about letting go of all the little things that make you unhappy.
There are things we all need to let go of. Instead of being overwhelmed by their weight, let’s remember that we are more than capable of moving on and releasing them.
Tally up the wins.
Our minds are incredibly powerful at shaping our perception of reality. For better or worse, what we consistently tell ourselves becomes our reality.
If we say, “it’s going to be a great day.”, every morning when we wake up, our minds will cause our reality to shift and we will begin to see things through a positive lens — our perception of every day will become what we say it will be.
So as you’re moving forward on this journey of letting go, we can tally up our wins and focus on the progress we’re making instead of the seemingly infinite mess that we’re trying to deal with.
Letting go is a process that takes much effort and yields many rewards.
Through this process we can learn, in whatever small way, to simplify our lives a little more.
And in our simplicity, we might just find ourselves looking in a mirror at the person we were meant to be.
You can start today! Find one thing that you want to let go of, and begin the process of releasing it.