The Art of Letting Go
Letting go is more than just the subject of a hit Disney song from a few years ago. It’s actually a pretty on-point philosophy and an art. Letting go is an art form because it requires practice and dedication to master. While I’ve not quite mastered this art yet, I definitely have my Bachelor of Science degree in it; ’cause in the past decade I’ve let go of a major job, a couple of “friends”, a few apartments, a plethora of clothes, a boyfriend or 3 (whose counting), and a car that I loved so much I named it.
Did I want to let go of all of those things? At the time, the answer was, “No!” But, I had to come to terms with the truth. Which was that many of those things were no longer working for me. They were not helping me grow or move forward in life (quite literally with the car), nor were they contributing to my sense of wellbeing and happiness.
You know that feeling when a part of your life feels like you are stuck at a standstill? Well, that quagmire is no coincidence. That is when you need to ask yourself, “What is it in my life that is not serving me?” Not gonna lie, it’s not always the easiest question to ask and certainly not the easiest to answer. Mainly, because the answer can range from the existential i.e. a bad habit, a grudge, thinking you can change someone other than yourself to the physical -weight, clothes, a set of encyclopedias you posthumously inherited from your grandparents.
Sometimes, we need to let go of an emotion like anger, fear, guilt, or resentment. Sometimes, we need to bid adieu to a toxic relationship or an addiction. I’d be remiss to repeat that it can be something physical that is quite literally cluttering your life from books to furniture to e-mails. Listen, I’m all for “let go and let God,” and not to diminish the power of the Almighty, I understand Jesus may take the wheel, but there’s no doubt it is up to me to clean out my inbox.
The wild part about letting go is that you know it’s “stuff” you no longer need but you’re holding on because…. Because it brings you comfort. Because you’ve grown used to it (comfort). Because it’s scary to think about what happens after you let it go (comfort). Because you think you need permission to let it go (comfort). Because it’s safe and you “know it” (comfort). Because you want to “avoid drama” (comfort). Because you believe it’s easier to have it in your life than not (comfort).
Suffice to say, comfort, or fearing the lack thereof, is at the root of not letting go. It is the irony of all ironies that comfort plays a role in holding on to the negative stuff. Because it is within the distorted idea of comfort we get to have an excuse for why we are stuck. We get to claim a reason for not being able to move forward, or have something/someone to blame other than ourselves for why we are unhappy, stagnant, or unsuccessful. My humble suggestion for letting go in those circumstances is to hold on to the lesson, but release the negative experience and emotions attached to it. Let go of that which no longer serves you. I know this is easier said than done, but it is possible.
I would never proclaim that letting go is easy. It can at times be extremely uncomfortable. But when you do let go it is a powerful and empowering experience that is filled with rich rewards.
It takes being courageous and bold to let go. Especially of the things we’ve lead ourselves to believe we need to survive. Guess what? You don’t need the 7 pairs of jeans that you wore before you went to college or got pregnant because you plan to get back into them one day. You don’t need that friend who is a “crazy maker” / energy vampire to the Nth degree who sucks the life out of you without replenishing what they took. You don’t need the romantic partner who is abusive, or so unhappy with their own life that they are stifling your spirit and soul. You don’t need to waste money on a storage container full of things you never intend to use again and will only cause resentment when you croak and your remaining family members have to deal with it.
When you are bold enough to let go a series of things happen. After the initial fear and anxiety subside, and it does — I promise, you will be met with a wave of relief as though a weight has been lifted off of you. You will actually feel a sense of freedom and a lightness in your head and heart. Next, you will gain the awareness that you are no longer dependent on something or beholden to someone to bring you comfort, peace or joy.
Lastly, when you let go, you create a space in your life for something new and almost always better, to take the place of what you released; and by goodness it will be something that serves you because it will match your intentions.
To be clear, letting go is not giving up. Letting go is consciously releasing whatever energy, attention, clutter, pain, waste, excess, etc. that does not serve you. There is power in doing this. If you think you need permission; consider it granted. If you need to start slow, by all means ease into it.
I’ve been at this for a while; sometimes it takes life-altering events to generate a wake up call to set the wheels in motion. Other times it is a book, an article or conversation that puts me back on this helpful path. I’ve been fortunate enough to have all of the above influence my life and help me let go when I needed to.
I hope these words were just what you needed today and are a catalyst in helping you let go of whatever it is that is keeping your from your best life. Don’t be afraid to let go. Embrace it.
Karith’s book “You Can Be Perfect or You Can Be Happy" is available for pre-order on Amazon.
About This Contributor
Diversity Engagement & Value Specialist
Karith Foster is a dynamic personality whose compelling stories and authentic experiences create powerful and effective spaces when addressing audiences invested in the areas of Diversity & Inclusion, Communication and Leadership & Development