Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go. - Hermann Hesse
Goals and needs change, people grow apart, and time moves forward. Yet many of us hold onto things long after we should have let go. Why? There are many rewards for holding onto to people, grudges, and even material things, but the most common reward is undoubtedly repeating comfortable and familiar patterns. Change is scary even when we know we’ll be happier on the other end of it.
So, if you’re holding onto to something unhealthy, say a person, a habit or a past event, ask yourself: what are the consequences of fixating on this same thing in five years? If the answer is depressing, unpleasant or scary then it’s time to let go.
Here are 5 steps essential for detaching yourself and moving forward.
Decide to move on: That’s always how change starts. Any addiction expert can tell you no one changes until they decide they want change. So make the decision, make the commitment and be thankful you’re closing this chapter of your life.
Stop Blaming: How or why you got stuck is not as important as letting go. You can only rehash things and blame people for so long before you get mired in the past. People use blame initially to create answers when there are no good or acceptable answers or when we don’t like the reality of a situation. But beyond the initial assessment of what happened, there is little usefulness in blame. In fact, engaging in too much of it is contagious and, interestingly, people with low self esteem are more likely to fall victim to consistent blaming behavior.
Take Responsibility: You may have had a part in your current stuckness such as a bad relationship or pile of debt. If so, it’s time to admit you’re not just a victim of circumstance. If you were the victim of circumstance or a horrible crime, you don’t take responsibility for the awfulness that befell you. But you can take responsibility for your life and happiness from this day forward.
Either act, or both, are essential parts of letting go of being a victim and becoming a master of your own destiny. If you want to change, if you want to let go and move on with your life, you’re the only person who can make it happen. Claim full control of, and responsibility for, your life.
Reduce the Negativity: If you can forgive and forget, that’s best. But if that’s not an option, you do need to at least minimize the emotions you dedicate to the person, behavior or event that needs released from your life.
Here’s why. People who feel wronged have trouble moving forward because they feel entitled and maybe they are entitled to something. But this Stanford study has found that dwelling on unfairness can keep subjects stuck in a cycle of doing selfish behavior to avoid negative outcomes.
Dwelling on the negative also creates a cycle of depression and rumination. Talking about it and thinking about it over and over will not help you feel better and will definitely not help you move on. So being negative leads to more negativity. Not surprising really. Not helpful either.
Be Here Now: A great way to move on is to prioritize the present over the past. Take time for yourself. Focus only on what can be changed in your life in this moment. If you’re looking outside yourself to find solutions, look inward instead. Nurture positive things in your life and make adjustments to let go of what’s got you stuck, so you can grow and move beyond your current circumstances.