“When we let go of yearning for the future, preoccupation with the past, and strategies to protect the present, there is nowhere left to go but where we are.” - Jack Kornfield
Many unnecessary struggles come from prioritizing the past and future over the present. If you are dissatisfied, if you are stuck, if you are bitter... it is time to let go.
“Okay. Let go of what, exactly?”
Here are five behaviors to release from your life:
1) Obsessing About The Future
Letting go of "The Future" doesn’t mean abandoning goals or draining the savings account. This is about letting go of your perfect expectations of the future. The future where everything goes exactly according to plan. As Joseph Campbell says, “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” So let go of the need to control everything because your future will not be devoid of suffering and chaos. Try to realize that fulfillment lies in the means, not the ideal ends.
2) Dwelling In The Past
It’s over, and no amount of rehashing it all will make the pain or regrets less weighty. People hold onto the past because they feel entitled to better resolution, but this Stanford study found that dwelling on unfairness keeps people stuck. You’ve got to let go of contagious blame to move on. If you’ve been broken by your past, realize that many get stronger in those broken places. Let go of the hurt so that you can live in the beautiful present. Embrace your life and your happiness from this day forward.
3. Encouraging Negativity
The world needs less critical and negative people. If complaining, gossiping, fighting and pessimism seem to have you ensnared, they likely do. Being around negativity, and being personally negative, leads to more of the same and furthermore, it’s bad for your health. Whether it’s your friends, your family or coworkers feeding this beast, you have to walk away and get a more positive, transcendent perspective. Learn to recognize and avoid toxic people. As you make changes to your own attitudes, you may have to let go of some people in your in-group that try and pull you back down into the negative muck.
4. Allowing Self Criticism
People who hate themselves are classically obsessed with perfect future ideals or hiccups of the past. Let go of listening to your inner critic. We all make mistakes, failure is learning, and none of us will ever completely live up to our ideals. There are many ways to be and live in the world and none of them are inherently right or wrong. If you’re holding on to self criticism because you think it’s motivating, think again. There are better ways to motivate yourself than with self loathing and criticism.
5. Keeping The Unessential
The love of stuff, incessant busyness and unfiltered obligations are three unessential things we can let go of immediately for a better life. When you junk up your life with the unessential, you’re junking up your brain and sabotaging your goals, purpose and peace of mind. When you consider what unessential things to let go of, it can be helpful to consider your death. Yep. Depressing, but we all have an expiration date. What if you knew yours was in 2 years? What would you let go?
If you want to find peace and be free, choose to stay deliberately in the present moment. Learn to let it go.