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Healing: Why Is Letting Go so Hard for Many of Us?

Updated on September 20, 2019
Korresha Walker profile image

Ms. Walker has faced her own trial and tribulations with various forms of trauma and has become passionate about helping others.

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The Past: Why is Letting go of the Past so Hard for Many of Us?

The past is a form of time that occurred away from this present moment. It is a period in our life where all we have left of it are the memories that continue to show up. Unfortunately, many of them are not pleasurable. In fact, most of memories that we hold from childhood are traumatic. Oftentimes, memories from the past can be so painful and dreadful that many people take on a harmful lifestyle, which normally looks like over indulging behaviors that has long-term consequences such as substance use/abuse, compulsive gambling and shopping, hyper sexuality and many others. In this article, we will discuss some long-term effects of trauma and reasons why letting go is so hard for many of us.

When trauma is not processed in a healthy way, it can have long-term damaging effects to the individual and how they adapt and function in the world. Trauma is an energy that gets stuck in our unconscious. Many people experience an insurmountable amount of sadness, anger, irritability, frustration, worry, fear, guilt and shame. Oftentimes, the inability to resolve this inner conflict often leads mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and panic attacks. Not only that, it disrupts our ability to build long-lasting meaningful relationships both socially and professionally. Most people have a desire to let go of the past bet get stuck for a couple of reasons.

First, in the Western culture, we have an obsession with the idea of "letting go” because it’s attractive and socially acceptable. We have all heard it, “you just need to let that go.” This idea is an illusion. Unfortunately, it is a very painful illusion. The reason why the idea of “letting go” is attractive is because it appears that you will be much lighter- by letting go, a weight will be lifted off of you. We assume that the weight of the past is dead weight or has no value, which is another illusion because every life event has value whether we agree with the life event or not. In order to let go of anything, you MUST heal first.

Another reason why letting go is so hard for many of us is because we have a very difficult relationship with death, endings and loss. Until one becomes comfortable with these, letting go will continue to be challenging. When an individual experiences trauma in early childhood, they suffer impairments in brain development causing them to get stuck in the fight or flight mode- in constant fear. During this time, one’s Ego is developed and serves as an emotional protector. The process of letting go involves the death or a separation from the Ego. It serves the same purpose as the amygdala in the brain that protects us from actual threat or harm. Instead, the Ego is an emotional protector and in order to let go of anything, we must change our relationship with death, endings and loss.

The good news: It is possible to heal from the past. One should be aware that it is a process that involves affirming an unequivocal commitment to healing, embracing and engaging the emotions that comes along with healing, and changing one’s relationship with death, endings and loss.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Korresha Walker

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