Letting go is something i’ve been working on a lot the past few months, yet still at times struggle so much with. Whether it be letting go of old clothes, career plans, friendships or simply behaviours in life you recognise aren’t serving you - there’s always part of me that fights to cling on to the past, or what seems like the present.
I’ve come to accept that it’s something a lot of us find difficult; it’s part of human nature to form attachments and connections, normal to place worth and identity onto the external, natural to have that urge to hold on to things as life seems to quickly pass by.
But why, even when we do come to the realisation that something’s not right for us, we still find it so hard to let go? Even when we do manage to, it is usually after a long period of inner confliction and torment, where we try to unearth that gut instinct, or what we think might be it underneath a myriad of self-doubt and logic and reason. Decisions that could have been made months or even years ago are shackled to our ankles and dragged on as we try to get on with life, knowing that sooner or later, a choice will have to be made. It’s that giant winter coat you haven’t worn in 15 years, that takes up half your wardrobe but you still can’t bear to throw away. It’s the relationship or friendship you know is tearing you up inside, but every time you go to break it off you can’t help but think of all of the good memories you’ve had. It’s the job you drag yourself to every morning that you know you despise and drains the life out of you, but provides you with security and distraction from the dream of starting your own business that you’re too scared to embark on.
I was listening to a podcast last night and heard this quote from the beautiful Tara Kemp (@Tarakemp_); “We don’t know what’s coming next, we only know what we’re about to lose.” And unable to sleep, it dawned on me, that this is why we struggle.
I’ve been scared to let go of so much because i’m afraid of the unknown. I’m afraid of the hole that will be left, of not having a plan, of not having a vision. I’m afraid to let go of what some objects signify to me, the memories that are attached, the person I was at that time. For a lot of things in life, maybe it’s the fear that i’ll never have those emotions and experiences attached to them again. Or maybe it’s the fear that I won’t know who I am without it all; no labels or descriptions or occupations to hide behind.
So we convince ourselves we’re better off sticking where we are; stuck in the same rut, the same unhealthy patterns we’ve always been in - whether that be hoarding physical items or remaining in the same relationships or activities or spaces in life. Maybe we convince ourselves that we’re just trying to see the positive in what we have; that we’re just showing gratitude for the present; that we’re being sensible, setting ourselves up for the future, just holding on for a couple more months, waiting for the right time.
Only you can be truly honest with yourself and recognise where to draw that line, recognise when happiness is forced and you’re creating a mask for inner pain.
A big conflict for me has been that about gratitude. Am I being ungrateful, letting go of something I know many people dream of? Am I being ungrateful letting go of items that I was so privileged to have in the first place? Am I being ungrateful turning down this opportunity?
But what I’ve realised is that sometimes letting go is the best way to actually express your gratitude towards something, towards a part of your life. If you think about it, everything is temporary. And sometimes, recognising that it is time to move on in that part of your life shows great honesty and maturity. It leaves not only space for you to grow, but creates the potential for someone else to receive that energy you’re letting go of - whether that be in the form of an object, a job opening, a relationship - rather than harbouring something that once was a gift, until it is tarnished from the way it begins to suffocate you.
It’s the act of showing gratitude for the way that it contributed to your life, but accepting that you no longer have anything else to take, that it has nothing more to give.
We all know that staying stagnant in that place of security and comfort is the easier option, even when it might be causing you pain. It’s easy to ignore our inner voice, brush over the bad parts in denial that anything could ever improve; easy to shut ourselves down for being too optimistic, too idealistic.
At the end of the day it’s up to you what you choose. But I believe what lies in the dark void of uncertainty is often what brings us the most happiness in life. Letting go, ultimately, is what sets us free.