What is letting go?
Letting go of something is a metaphorical term that means releasing it from your mental state rather than your physical grasp. To many psychologists, letting go of something means generating the emotional headspace that you need to recover from a situation or state. When it comes to personal and close familial relationships, the ability to let go can be challenging and even traumatic. That is why we feel such emotional strain when we feel grief. Numerous psychological explanations of grief refer to it as the first stage of letting go. However, to let go of something need not be as the result of bereavement. It could equally be the loss of a job or a relationship. There again, people also try to let go of their own emotions, especially when they are having a negative effect, such as jealousy or frustration.
Why is letting go of the past so difficult?
Moving on from one emotional state to another is often healthy and beneficial, especially when you have been suffering from a sense of loss. However, letting go in this way is not always easy because we often want things to stay as they are or – more accurately – to revert back to how they were. As such, to let go is – in many senses – to accept the current state of affairs. This is why it is so often difficult because, even when we know it is probably the best thing to do, it means accepting the past for what it truly is – something that has gone.
Can letting go help your mental health?
To let go of something does not mean that you have forgotten about it. However, it does mean that you have moved on from it. By accepting your present, your mental well-being can improve dramatically. Many people who are not able to let go – or are not yet ready to do so – can get into loops of negative thoughts and emotions which feed on themselves, driving their emotional state down. Conversely, letting go allows you to move on and for your mind to escape such negative feedback.
How can you find ways of letting go of love?
If you have suffered a relationship breakdown, then remember that your emotional state will be much like someone who has lost a loved one. Denial of the true state of affairs is common initially. This is usually followed by anger and then sadness. By accepting these stages and recognising them for what they are – common emotional reactions – you can proceed towards letting go entirely. The final stage of a pattern of loss comes with acceptance.
Can writing help with letting go?
If you are struggling to let go of something, then writing down your thoughts and feelings is often a big help. You can do this directly or write a letter to your future self if preferred. Another good idea is to write down your journey towards acceptance as a story with a character who feels as you do. It helps you to disassociate yourself with your experience and see it for what it is.