How to let go is something that many people want to do. It is something that many people wish they could do badly, if only they knew how!
Part of the problem I think, is that we are divided within ourselves.
One part of us wants to let go, and really sincerely is striving to find out how to do it, and wants it to happen as soon as possible.
Another part of us seems to be “holding on” for whatever reason. Sometimes that holding on is done consciously, while at other times it is more unconscious.
Why We Hold On
We may hold on, as in the death of a loved one, the illness of a person close to us, or any other loss, because even though it hurts to bear the loss, it may be too painful to let go!
We may be afraid to let go of our memories, because we are afraid that if we let go then maybe we will not have anything to cling to.
Here the thinking is… better the pain of holding on than falling into the void.
Another reason that we hold on, may be that we have suffered great pain and we are deeply afraid to let go and open ourselves up to a new and uncertain future.
When we think we have been hurt by someone in the past, we build up defenses to protect ourselves from being hurt in the future. So the fearful past causes a fearful future and the past and future become one. We cannot love when we feel fear…. When we release the fearful past and forgive everyone, we will experience total love and oneness with all.
― Gerald G. Jampolsky
Yet another reason for holding on, may be that we may feel guilty if we let go. So often we are faced with sudden losses that we had little or no time to prepare for. Or we may even have anticipated the loss for some time, but we feel guilty about our past actions.
All of these reasons and many more cause us difficulty in consciously being able to let go.
Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.
― Ann Landers
Wanting To Let Go!
I believe that the first step in finding out how to let go is to actually consciously WANT to let go!
What we want to do, we can usually find a way to accomplish. It may come on our own, or it may involve the help of a friend or a skilled professional.
Deciding to let go, can often precipitate internal movement in this all important step in the grieving process.
An Interesting Experiment!
If I find that clients are having a difficult time letting go, I will sometimes do the following experiment with them.
You can try it too, to see what happens.
Try not to read ahead so as not to ruin it for yourself. You might find it very interesting!
Here is what you do:
- Get a pencil or a pen
- Sit down at a table or in front of a coffee table
- Hold your arm out about a foot above the table
- Turn your hand around so that the palm is facing upwards (towards the ceiling)
- Your arm should be extended, and your hand should be open with the palm facing upwards
- Next, place your pen or pencil across the palm of your hand
You are now ready to conduct the experiment!
Are you ready?
At the count of 3, I’d like you to turn over your extended hand.
1 …. 2 …. 3 …
Where is your pen or pencil???
The Surprising Answer!
Most people will say…. on the table, or even on the floor.
A small percentage of people will say… in my hand!
Yes it’s true! Some people actually still had the pen or pencil in their hand.
You yourself may have still had your pen or pencil in your hand.
How To Explain It?
If you go back to the instructions, you will see that I never said anything about whether to hold onto or to let go of the pen or pencil!
All I asked was, that at the count of 3 that we turn our hand over!
What this must mean then, is that some of us while turning over our hand and seeing the pen / pencil about to fall from our hand, must have decided to let it fall!
Hence we decided to let it go!
Those who were still holding onto the pen / pencil, must have when they turned over their hand, decided on some level to hold onto it!
Hence they decided to hold on!
Play It Back Again… In Slow Motion
Take yourself back in your mind to the time when you are turning over your hand. Your eyes can see your hand turning over. Your eyes can see the pen / pencil about to slide from your hand. You can even feel the sensation of the pen / pencil sliding from your hand.
At this point, your mind must register all of this sense information and make a decision:
Do we let the pen / pencil continue to fall and thus let it go, or do we close our hand and hold onto it, thus preventing it from falling?
In a split second, this is what I believe happens, we either decide to hold on or to let go!
Our minds / emotions and unconscious are working that quickly below the surface.
How To Let Go?
Which brings us back to our original question of trying to figure out “How” to let go?
The answer, as may be alluded to by this experiment, may lie in first deciding that we WANT to let go. Then our inner mechanism can activate the inner grief process and our emotional healing system, to help facilitate the letting go process for us.
I welcome any comments or feedback on any part of this article. Let me know what you think and how the experiment went for you.
Should you wish to get further help or assistance in helping you to let go, please contact me and we can go further to help your healing process.