Every day I help people who find letting go of something difficult. I get their struggle. I’ve been there too.

Some things in life are hard to let go of.

  • Loss of a loved one
  • Hurt or betrayal
  • Resentment toward someone
  • End of a relationship
  • Acts of injustice toward you
  • Disappointments from others who let you down
  • Personal failures

Letting go may sound like simple advice from others, but really difficult to do. Something makes it hard to let go. It’s important to figure out what that is. Here are 4 steps to make letting go easier on you.

Click the play button above and listen to the All About We Podcast on this topic. My cohost Amanda Berlin interviews me on how this process works.

#1: Identify What Makes Letting Go Hard
When I observe a client struggling to let go of something I ask a question. “What makes letting go difficult for you right now?” The answers vary based on the event, but here are some common reasons:
  • Fear of what happens after letting go
  • Feeling responsible
  • Fear of having to trust again
  • Fear of the future
  • Feeling lost
  • Holding out for justice
  • Need to punish offender
  • Pride
  • Loss of control
  • Concern about how it will affect others
I think one of the hardest things to come to terms with is accepting the outcome. You’re holding on hoping for something you’re not going to get.
  • Your loved one won’t return
  • Justice is not forthcoming
  • You’re not getting an apology or restitution
  • Life is not going to be restored to how it was before
Now that you know what makes it hard to let go, let’s take a look at how it impacts your life now.
#2: Understanding How Holding On Negatively Impacts You
This is not easy to look at but can be a motivator to letting go. Holding on to something too long can start to have a negative impact in your life. Here are some common responses I hear when I ask the question, “How is holding on getting in the way of your life?”
  • Being stuck in life
  • Controlled by negative emotions
  • Impaired relationships
  • Prolonged feelings of grief or depression
  • Health problems
  • Jaded view of life
  • Loss of my true self
A common concern for people who struggle letting go is wasting time by holding on too long. As the Steve Miller song says, “Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future.” Perhaps it’s time to let go.
#3: Deciding It’s Time to Let Go
Coming to terms with the impact of holding on to something too long is key to letting go. So far you have done two things:
  1. Identified what makes it hard.
  2. Understand the negative impact it has on your life.
Now you have a decision to make. It requires two bold statements. “I am no longer willing to remain stuck in time.” “I will muster the courage to act.” Now, let’s get into the act of letting go.
#4: Getting Into The Act of Letting Go
Letting go is not as catastrophic as you think. In fact, it can feel liberating! Letting go is  a normal process every human being encounters in the course of life. Here are 10 action steps that will help.
  1. Consider the benefits. How will my life be better?
  2. Treasure the lessons you learned.
  3. Letting go does not equate with letting bad people back in your life. Set healthy boundaries.
  4. Remind yourself: “Life is not always fair!”
  5. Accept that you are not getting what you hoped for or think you deserve.
  6. Follow spiritual practices of letting go: releasing everything to God and trusting for a better future.
  7. Write a letter or journal.
  8. Release a balloon as a symbolic gesture.
  9. Remember the good. Release the bad.
  10. Involve a trusted friend, family member, spiritual leader, or professional counselor to support you.
Letting go and holding on can coincide. Let go of the person who will never come back. Hold on to the fond memories you have of life with the person. Carry their legacy.

Now it’s your turn

What are you holding on to that is time to let go of?