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.
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.
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.
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.