10 Tips For Letting Go Of The Things You Can’t Control


Tips Letting Go Of Things Cant Control

“Inner peace can be reached only when we practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past, and is, therefore, the means for correcting our misperceptions.” ― Gerald G. Jampolsky

Letting Go Is Hard

It’s a true challenge, one of the hardest you will face in life, letting go of the things that you are emotionally connected to and can’t control.

When you are feeling stuck on something or someone, many people will give the advice to just, “let it go”, saying it’s not worth your time or energy, which might be great advice but the question remains, how do you get there?! If only it was as simple as the raising of a wand!

There are lots of situations where you need to accept the reality of something regrettable and be able to “let go” when things just don’t line up for you. These situations can feel quite frequent and will present you with an array of mental challenges. How you choose to overcome these life situations can often be a defining moment for you.   

This article has the answers you are looking for when it comes to letting go and moving on, freeing yourself from the self-destructive path you can find yourself on when you have a hard time letting go.

Related: 20 Signs It’s Time To Let Go Of The Past And Move On

Situations that call for letting go

First, let’s look at the situations and signs where you might want to think about moving on and letting go.

When it comes to letting go of something there are two ways that this might manifest, that is through the internal and through the external. 

The internal aspect is more around something that we wanted to do or are working towards in our own life, a personal endeavor. This will naturally be impacted by things that are outside our locus of control however when it comes down to it, we do have some control over our decisions and how we choose to pivot based on the circumstances around us or how we manage the situation. 

Some examples of these situations are:

  • Developing a new skill or learning a new trade, such as studying a foreign language, learning how to play an instrument, developing athletic skills, moving into a new professional field, or acquiring a new skillset.
  • Feeling of failure and disappointment which if not addressed can quickly turn into discouragement. Job search, being turned down for a job or a promotion you really wanted.
    • Students might feel this in their college application process, a non-acceptance letter from your dream college.  
    • Getting stuck on something that you really want but, find it slipping through your fingers.
  • Parenting challenges, how to navigate unchartered territory and make the personal sacrifices needed for the overall benefit of the family.

The external situation is more around those things where you have little to no control, at least not enough to change the situation on your own. You are then left to make decisions based on the facts around you.

Some examples are:

  • Relationships
    • when another person initiates a breakup.
    • when there is an imbalance in your relationship, this can be a platonic or romantic relationship, you can work to make changes in the relationship, but you are only half of the equation.
    • when someone shows you their true colors and proves to be someone that is not who you think they are, maybe in the case of betrayal, or when someone wrongs you.
    • when someone makes a decision that you are not happy with
    • feeling disrespected.
    • when someone asks for more than what is fair, this could be at work or in your private life.
    • When a job or work situation changes unexpectedly.
  • Traffic and weather conditions which are prohibitive, on the slightly lighter side, but still very disruptive at the wrong time, do you forge ahead or find an alternative route?
  • When dealing with loss
    • health, diagnosis of illness, terminal, or something that will diminish your quality of life.
    • death, the loss of someone close to you, or a family pet, especially when unexpected.
    • job changes and security, sometimes this is due to restructuring or budget cuts, resignation against your will.
    • loss of a relationship, the falling out with a friend, or in the case of a divorce in the family.
    • empty nest.
    • financial losses, change in the economy, investments.
    • infertility.

Suffice it to say that we have a hard time letting go of something when it is not within our control and the truth is, there is very little that we actually do have control over in life. In any of these above situations, whether it be something that falls under the internal or external, the common denominator is how you respond.

letting go
Letting Go And Moving On

Signs that it is time to start letting go…

It’s not only a matter of how to let go but, when. At some point, the question will arise, how much longer do you keep trying…. how much longer do you keep at your job search before switching your focus, how much longer do you continue couples therapy before deciding that it’s time to go your separate ways, how much longer do you sit in traffic before looking for an alternate route.

Related: How Accepting Things You Cannot Change Makes You Finally Free To Be Yourself

These are hard questions and you are the only one that can answer them, if it is about a relationship there might be the other person (or family members) to consider, however, this is a critical time for you to check in with yourself and make sure that if you do keep trying, it is ok for you. 

And if you decide to make a course correction, it does not mean that you have given up, but simply that you are looking for another entry point or this particular scenario is not working out for you.

Do a self-assessment and ask yourself:

  • Are you feeling angry most of the time? How intense is the anger on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the most intense)?
  • Do you find yourself dwelling on something that is not going well? How much mental energy is spent on this?
  • Do you find your thoughts are more about the past than the present?
  • Are you sacrificing your true self? Are you giving up parts of yourself to try to make another person happy or content? ie being/staying in the closet.
  • Is your relationship balanced? Is there give and take on both sides? This may not look the same for both, but you are both contributing in a meaningful way, in finances, caretaking, household responsibilities etc.
  • Are any of the above taking away from your overall happiness and satisfaction in life?
  • Are anxiety and depression starting to become a dominant part of your life?

If your answers to these questions indicate concerns then it might be time to make that course correction and look for an alternative path. Trying something and not seeing it turn out the way you would have liked is better than never having tried at all. 

And sometimes we do need to let go and chalk it up to a life lesson, which is ok. We will probably have more failures than successes and in the end, after some time, you will be able to see the value in the attempt rather than shame in the failure.

How to Let Go – Turning Life From Upside Down to Right Side Up!

1. Live in the present. 

Look around you and soak it in, take a deep breath and feel the air in your lungs, the breeze or sun or rain on your face. Notice the green around you or the architecture or the art. Do you have a warm bed to sleep in? Feel the pillow and the weight of the covers and feel the gratitude for those simple things. 

If there is someone meaningful to share it with, all the better. There is a lot of power in the practice of mindfulness and gratitude, which will help you focus on the here and now.

Related: 4 Steps To Move On And Heal Your Emotional Baggage

2. Find the things that you have control over

There will always be those things that we can’t control, but we do always have choices. They may not be great choices but they are there. Sometimes we have to search for them and they won’t jump out in front of us. Find them and make a list of your options, weigh them out, and revisit them. 

This is where I advocate for the old fashioned pen and paper, make a list and keep it with you, when you find yourself overwhelmed, or getting stuck in your head take it out and remind yourself that there are options to move forward and build the life that you want, to move past the hurtful memories or to start fresh and rebuild. 

Many of the most successful people throughout history and even present-day, experienced repeated failure or the need to start over and make that course correction, which ultimately led to great accomplishments. Everyone has their own trajectory, their own path to success, don’t be discouraged by the path that you are on, more chances to start over is more opportunity for powerful learning opportunities.

letting go
Letting Go

3. Identify the root cause for your unhappiness, and make a list of action steps

If you can identify the cause or the source of your frustration or disappointment, then that is half the battle. Once you have the source identified you will be able to think about the action steps that you can and want to take. 

You don’t have to be ready to execute the plan, but you can begin to start thinking through your options and how you can make adjustments to find better results.

Related: The Key To Bliss: Let Go Of Expectations and Avoid Suffering

4. Mindset change.   

The thing you currently perceive as failure is really just an opportunity to get better, learn, and to grow. There are many great quotes about failure, one that stands out to me is by William Whewell, “Every failure is a step towards success”.

5. Find the silver linings.  

Some people might feel that focusing on the silver linings, potential positive outcomes to a negative situation, is dismissive of the present feelings of pain, hurt or loss, however, I disagree.

I would say it’s more a matter of thinking about it as an “and” (which allows two opposing feelings or situations to exist at the same time) not a “but” (which often dismisses what came before). We need silver linings, they can be what get us through the really tough, mucky stuff.

6. Accept that you may not get closure from someone else

This relates back to #2. Sometimes we are looking for that apology or response from the other person and we need to make sure our expectations are in check. 

If you want to say something to someone, make sure it is not because you want something back from them. The situation might call for you, finding your own closure, with just you, yourself, and you.

7. Give yourself time.  

The only timeline is your own timeline, granted this may be influenced by outside factors, but give yourself space to think through some of what I have identified above. Think through your options, talk to the supportive people in your life, and when you are ready to take the steps, you will. If you are hesitating, then maybe you are not ready. 

When it comes to loss, which most of letting go is about, it is critical that we give ourselves time to heal and make the mental adjustments needed.

Related: 4 Easy Ways To Let Go Of Negativity From Your Life

8. Take care of yourself.  

Don’t forget about your self-care plan, eat healthy, whole foods, get outside, stay active and connect with your peeps. Give yourself time to reflect and think on your own, but don’t isolate yourself. Another part of your self-care plan might be to limit social media as well.

9. Don’t blame other people. 

We are all on our own journey, someone might make a decision that is hard for you but they too are also trying to figure out their own path. As I mentioned above, the only thing you have complete control over is yourself. 

Someone might do something that is hurtful or that you don’t like, and then you will be forced to make your own decision accordingly.

letting go
Letting Go

10. Listen to your gut.  

Do you have that nagging feeling at the bottom of your gut telling you what you need to do? And you are terrified to listen to it or even acknowledge it? Yeah, that’s known as your instincts, your intuition, aka your gut. Very often we have a good idea as to what we need to do and with self-reflection, we become more and more aware of this feeling. 

It can be one of the scariest parts of this process, as it might be telling you to take that leap of faith that you don’t feel 100% ready to take. Which is ok, start by acknowledging it and getting comfortable with it, with the other steps above, you will feel more and more confident listening to this inner voice and better prepared to take those next steps. You Got This!! 

Related: 6 Yoga Poses To Release Difficult Emotions

Is Therapy Part of the Solution?

Sometimes we need help implementing some of these above strategies or creating these mindset shifts and therapy could be part of the solution. If you know you are stuck in a situation and need help creating an action plan, therapy can be a great place to work through the many conflicting feelings that can come up.

Therapy with a specific focus can even give you a head start, as that would imply that you are “doing your own work” as they say, you are engaging in your process and that is a definite recipe for success when it comes to therapy.

And therapy is not the only option when it comes to finding support around your specific life challenge, there are many community-based agencies, as well as faith communities, that can offer this type of support. If you would like to engage in therapy, there are resources through your primary care, employee assistance, or your insurance company that can help you connect with someone either in person or virtually.

On-line therapy.com is a resource I have been talking about in a lot of my posts where you can connect with a professional mental health therapist online, from anywhere in the world. I have included my affiliate link here where you can get 20% off your first month. Give it a try and if you do decide to check it out, let me know how it goes, I am always looking for feedback to make this blog a better, more helpful experience for you, my reader.

In Summary

Letting go and moving forward, past a difficult period in your life is no easy feat. Take comfort in knowing that you will be ok, that you have been through other difficult experiences, (ahhh … the wisdom of life) and you will get through this as well.

Remember that feelings are temporary, they come and they go and they will probably come back again and that is ok too. It is all ok, moving towards acceptance and understanding is a process, we don’t just wake up one day having arrived. We are not supposed to know all the answers and that too is ok.

Related: 10 Tips To Let Go Of Your Painful Past

If you could use a little help with mindset shifts and working through the ups and downs of life, sign up for my email list, the link is here. Join me on this fabulous journey we call life, it truly is a wild, beautiful ride!

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Join the Upside Down Flan Community, a professional mental health forum where you will learn how you can turn YOUR life right side up, sign up here for my weekly newsletter where you will have access to all of my free mental health tools and easy tips! 
Check out Meredith Flanagan’s new website, Right Side Up Therapy now!

Written By Meredith Flanagan 
Originally Appeared On Upside Down Flan 
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10 Tips For Letting Go Of The Things You Can’t Control

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