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How to Master the Art of Letting Go

Updated on January 11, 2013
The Butterfy
The Butterfy | Source

(continued from How to Regain Connection with Your Higher Self)

Letting go can be delightful, such as releasing a 'wild thing with wings' from one's hands or loosing an impediment to allow a stream to flow more freely. Yet humans may struggle with letting go of the comfort of habits, emotionally charged projections of the future or memories of the past even when it would mean their freedom.

There are many types of letting go. Sometimes one lets go, not by choice or conscious agreement, but when forced by life circumstances. When a loved one is suddenly gone or favorite things must be relinquished or familiarity left behind, one may 'let go' physically but bury the painful emotions inside.

Sometimes letting go is premature, as when giving up on a deep heart longing. Hanging on too long or letting go too early or unwillingly can clutter the human space and experience with bitterness and resentment.

One Mile at a Time: Cycling through Loss to Renewal
One Mile at a Time: Cycling through Loss to Renewal
This book tells the story of a 13,784-mile bicycle journey through thirty-four states by Dwight Smith, after the loss of his two sons and wife.

This has been a hard-learned lesson for me and for many. Pain ran deeper and far longer than it had to, by my not looking quickly and honestly at my unprocessed grief over a period of years from the deaths of two brothers, my mother and father, the brain surgery of my first wife and our later divorce. I dragged a great weight through my life and it was not needed if I'd gained the understanding to work with my emotions. The way would have been much easier if I had mastered earlier the art of letting go when there is a 'stalling reaction', in the present moment.

Life quality for me depends not on things or even relationships but on free space to realize my true being and communicate with the Higher Self, the perfect self. When we humans clutter our space with discord, the communication signal is scrambled. Nothing is a greater joy than to feel joyful for no reason, from within.

What besides attachments to people and things is there to let go of? In order to give my true nature room to unfold, I continue to let go of:

  • defending myself,
  • having to control,
  • non-authentic desires which come not from my own intent,
  • limiting beliefs, habits and opinions,
  • fixed ideas of how things have to be,
  • taking care of how people feel when it is their responsibility,
  • the need to belong or achieve in society,
  • thinking that anyone or anything is 'special' above another,
  • dwelling on the past or future,
  • rebellion, manipulation,
  • over-analysis, preoccupation,
  • projection, expectation and speculation.

Thoughts are also possessions and the more I drag them along, the heavier they become. I grow less identified with all of these, and more with my authentic being.

As an example of being detached from charged emotions without being removed from life, I may let go of my macho need to 'win an argument' by responding neutrally but warmly to the other person's view, "That certainly is one way to look at it." Staying centered and transparent is the best I can do for another person as well as for myself.

When a person tells me that their religion is "the only way," I may say, "I certainly respect your right to your beliefs and choices."

Or if I get into a heated discussion and can stop long enough to make the conscious choice to exit from it, I may simply respond with, "Is it so?" or "As you say." And then I clean up inside myself any residue of lingering resentment and acknowledge that the other person has a right to their temporary experience. If there are any further responses needed from me, I will know it in the moment.

The whole person is freed and nourished by engaging not in what is entangling or depleting but in what is actual and in the life-affirming present moment.

For more reading

Less is More in the Art of Letting Go

Excellence: inherent natural ability to thrive

Death Transformed - the Song of the Star-Gazing Wanderer


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    • Dan Barfield profile image

      Dan Barfield 

      7 years ago from Gloucestershire, England, UK

      This is a fantastic hub and you give clear, sound advice. I was lucky in learning to let go at a very young age. I was very quick to anger when I was very young, and at about the age of 9 a child in my class teased me to the point that I completely blew my lid - I attacked him with the closest thing to me... which happened to be a metal pole. The fight was broken up and I got in trouble of course, but the most important thing I learned was that bottling up my anger and frustration and not confronting and being in control of my own emotions could lead to utter loss of control. I can tell you this quite honestly, I have never been in a fight since that day. I fumbled and muddled my way through gaining control of my emotions on my own, but I succeeded. I am so glad I learned that lesson. It has made my life and whatever difficulties I come across, much more enjoyable and directed.

    • Emanate Presence profile imageAUTHOR

      Gary R. Smith 

      8 years ago from the Head to the Heart

      I would enjoy reading your hub....

    • Laura Schneider profile image

      Laura Schneider 

      8 years ago from Minnesota, USA

      :-) Is it so? I'm horrible about letting things go that make me happy or contribute to who I am. I clearly need to study this subject further, because you all are so right that "Letting go just makes the inevitable a smoother ride." Another friend of mine has been trying to teach me this, too. I'm a slow learner at this subject, though I see the logic in it. The emotion just isn't convinced yet. Maybe I'll write a hub on the topic in a few months after I've thought about it some more, or feel free to yourself.

    • Emanate Presence profile imageAUTHOR

      Gary R. Smith 

      8 years ago from the Head to the Heart

      Thank you for being here, aida-garcia, and for your comment.

    • Emanate Presence profile imageAUTHOR

      Gary R. Smith 

      8 years ago from the Head to the Heart

      Dear Laura,

      A grin came to mind as I thought to respond with 'Is it so?'

      But in this case, it would be avoidance.

      It is not that I disagree, but that it feels too complex to post in a comment section. The subject is worthy of more ongoing dialog. I feel you have good points, and would give input on some additional angles. There is no right or wrong, only a choice to grow for both of us.

      Here I can say that letting go includes things or relationships we want to keep. That is a big part of it, being unattached, having no emotional charge of bitterness, resentment, guilt, etc. when things change. It is also to so highly value the happening of life that there really is no sense of loss.

      And to see ourselves in the light of who we are, as whole beings, without things or other people. And then it is not necessary to 'do without' but to have without attachment, always able to let go freely and still be complete.

      There is more to say about the losing battle. First, for me there is no battle. That would be against all the principles! I have no interest in convincing others. I am not here to change anyone or anything, as such an approach backfires. The best I can do is grow into living what I write and be an example without trying to be one. I write because it is who I am.

      I know little about physics as taught and just have my own ideas. I enjoy being corrected if my ideas conflict with science. Are there not additional laws that after chaos comes higher order? :-) Letting go just makes the inevitable a smoother ride.

    • aida-garcia profile image

      Aida Garcia 

      8 years ago from Anaheim, CA 92801

      I firmly believe what you have said in your article to be true. It creates many hurdles and it is hard to overcome them when they create a pile more to deal with.

    • Laura Schneider profile image

      Laura Schneider 

      8 years ago from Minnesota, USA

      Uh-oh. Where is my pen and paper? I had better write down and memorize those handy phrases (including onegreenparachute's phrase) for neutralizing foul argumentative energies. I enjoy a good discussion, and a good debate, which sometimes turns into a friendly argument, which occasionally turns into an ugly argument if someone takes themselves too seriously. I'll try out these and similar phrases (and try to apply the concepts behind them) the next time I get into an ugly argument.

      I think, though, that this could be fighting a losing battle because society tells us from the earliest ages that we MUST win to get the award, get the best grades in school, be the strongest, build the biggest sand castle, have the most toys... Physics tells us that "Things TEND to a more disordered state" (the 2nd law of thermodynamics). This tendency to "disorder" or "spread out", although not a foregone conclusion in any one instance, does not lend itself to letting go, but rather to distraction by the things that must and do go, whether we are willing or not.

      Must one let go of the beauty and joy and freedom in their lives, too? If we're letting go of the bad, that implies we also must be prepared to let go of the good, does it not? Even letting go of the good feelings that letting go of something should create?

      I lost something precious to me, once, and I still can't let go of it: through no fault of mine, I lost my paradise along with what little pride I had. I readily let go of pride and shame, but paradise is a tough one. I still haven't fully let go of my paradise or come to a place in my mind where I can accept that we also have to be able to readily let go of the good things and feelings we have along with the clutter and negativity. Or am I thinking about it incorrectly? Please prove me wrong about letting go of the good as well as the bad.

    • Emanate Presence profile imageAUTHOR

      Gary R. Smith 

      8 years ago from the Head to the Heart

      Of course you may! It is another useful way to neutralize argumentative energies. I am so glad to know that a beautiful life followed the dark times. Keep up the courage, and you are welcome.

    • onegreenparachute profile image


      8 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

      Gary, may I add 'You Could Be Right' to your list of responses? It's one I try to use when it looks like a discussion is going to turn into an arguement. In the past I had to win. Now it just doesn't matter.

      Pushing or prodding my life into the order I believed was best was a useless battle also. I learned that lesson when my first husband had brain surgery, became an angry violent man, and our children and I had to leave. A beautiful life followed that dark, dire event - something I could never have seen. Thanks for another great Hub!

    • Emanate Presence profile imageAUTHOR

      Gary R. Smith 

      8 years ago from the Head to the Heart

      Excellent comment. It is as you say, moment to moment. I raise my cup to your toast!

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      8 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      Gary, Holding on to negative thoughts and feelings does hold us back. Letting go sets us free. But it is something I have to do moment by moment and I fail more than I succeed. A lifetime isn't enough to get the hang of this, especially since I didn't consider it until I was half a century old. Here's to letting go for whatever time we may have left.


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