Why Letting Go is Terrible Advice

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An Honest Guide to Help You Truly Heal Your Past

Stop taking the bad advice to “just let go already!” and actually move on from the past. One of the biggest challenges of personal growth is letting go the pain of the past. We hold onto people, places, events; and often struggle to let go.

Isn’t it terrible what we do to ourselves?

I stopped taking the bad advice to “just let go already!” and actually moved on from the past. If the beginning of a new year finds you reflecting on how to overcome obstacles in your life, and realizing that you’ve been working for years to let go of the same painful events, it’s time we talk about how to truly let go. 

Whether it’s other people or yourself telling you to let go, you’ve done the work, right? The cord-cutting, the releasing meditations, writing a letter to the person or people who have harmed you – whether you’ve sent it or not. All of this, and still there is this lingering issue. That’s me, or at least it has been. It was me until I learned the secret to truly moving on.The thing that bothers me most about these kinds of personal realizations is that they come to me when I’m not trying to do anything at all, and they are so subtle and so deeply true. Nothing can make us feel like we have wasted our time as much as spending months, or even years, trying to do something and then realizing we are actually working against ourselves.

This is what I’ve discovered about letting go, and how the very idea of trying to let go is just plain horrible advice.

Letting Go
Why is trying to let go bad advice? 

We can initially purge immediate feelings in a number of ways; writing, meditation, visualizing, vocalizing; that’s all very useful. But when feelings linger, and they will sometimes because that’s how we work, we release things over time as we grow into a deeper, richer understanding of our own experiences and our lives; they burrow into our being and they wail from time to time. Tell me you’ve been there too, driving in your car, when suddenly a song comes on that sparks a memory of loss, and it feels like an actual punch to the guts. Maybe for a minute you hold your breath you’re so affected by the experience.  But when the feelings return and we are shocked, we head back into release mode rather than reflection mode, and that is where we make a mistake. We focus on trying to get rid of a feeling rather than trying to understand what the feeling means. 

This is when it is more beneficial to focus our energies on the feelings, the why, and do practices that take us inward or are more general, rather than to the place of continually trying to consciously release the past. When focusing instead on the healing, we are able to evolve and we let go without even realizing we have done so. 

5 Practices to Help You Heal The Past
  • Talk about it. The best friends know that when a hurt is very deep, it can take a long time and a lot of talking to heal. It’s not immediate and it’s often cyclical. My sister is the person in my life who understands that even if I should be over something, it doesn’t mean I am. I can beat the hell out of a topic, and she always gives me grace. She lets me go on and on, and offers a gentle, loving perspective. If you don’t have someone who understands you or the situation in this way, talk to a therapist, a support group, a Facebook group, or tell your story to the internet. I love it when I see someone on TikTok purging a problem. They’re healing. I assure you, someone somewhere has had a similar situation, tie them up, and they will listen. Sometimes we just need to let it all out. And then let it all out again a couple of months later. 
  • If these are issues from your childhood, get a fresh journal and set about some deliberate inner child work. There are a huge number of methods to get into the little one that stays within us; it doesn’t matter how old we are, we can still heal childhood wounds. If you haven’t seen my post on inner child work, you can see it here: Healing Your Inner Child
  • Take responsibility for your part in a bad event or situation. Even when we are the ones who are wronged, there are often things we could have done to improve our situation; whether we stayed too long in an abusive situation, reacted to a bad situation when we could have stepped back and handled things differently, or if we are blaming someone else for something we had a part in; dealing with these feelings can bring a new and healing perspective. Taking responsibility for our part does not condone any abuse we have suffered at the hands of another; but it is useful to understand what our best self would have done in that situation. We are survivors, not victims. When we take a hard look at the situation, we can gain some of our power back. 
  • It’s ok to be angry. Feel anger when it comes up, and deal with it in a healthy way. Physicality is very helpful when processing anger. During a disempowering point in my life I became very angry. I ran so often and so far I could have been training for a marathon, but I was healing some very deep anger. Take a dance class, a kickboxing class, a spin class. Can’t afford too? Don’t worry, I couldn’t have either at that time in my life, that’s why I ran so much, and in bad shoes at that. No matter. Youtube solves that. There are some great dance, and workout videos. Even better, you can do it in your living room; let it all out. Scream, yell, get into it, and just let it all go. 
  • Do some shadow work. Here I am again with the suggestion of a clean journal set aside just for a specific purpose. The cheapo composition books work well for this as well. Shadow work helps us dig deep and understand how harm from the past lingers, and how it impacts our behavior. When the shadow is driving, we are not thriving. Pay attention to your triggers and write about them, why do you feel the way you do, and how do you express how you are feeling? For a solid and useful practice to identify the shadow self see my post: Discover the Secrets of the Shadow Self
Some Better Advice
  • You are the only person who truly knows how you feel. Trust yourself and your own guidance.  
  • Don’t force it. Healing will come with deeper understanding over time. Rushing the process is a disservice to growth. 
  • It’s ok if it’s taking what may seem like too long to let go. Visit the pain from time to time; just don’t unpack and live there. For instance, if someone you dearly love has died, it’s ok to decide to be sad on their birthday. 
  • It’s your journey, do what feels most healing to you. 
  • Go easy on yourself. There isn’t a set timeline for healing. Whether it’s childhood trauma, loss of an important relationship, job loss, or any other issue that is lingering; the pain of it is an invitation to grow and to heal

All in all, we are here on this life journey to grow and to learn, to truly and deeply experience life. Sometimes it may feel like too much, but the pain of loss eventually balances out, and we do move on. If you feel stuck in the mud and like letting go has been a futile struggle, don’t let go. Just say, I’m not going to let go, I’m going to experience every bit of this until I decide what it means to teach me. Focus on healing, focus on moving through life anyway. Eventually it will get easier. You’ll move forward. You may even look back one day and realize you’ve truly let go without even trying to. 

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