Letting go of the past is difficult to do even if it involves a stressful job, resentment, fear, anger, or a habit that puts your life at risk. For some reason, we hold on because it’s tough to move on. However, letting go will make you feel free again! Transform your suffering into the fuel you need to make a change and start down the road to happiness.
What’s holding you back?
“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.“
Think about it for a second. What’s holding you back?
This letting go quote by Buddha speaks volumes about why you need to move forward. Change is possible when you set your mind to it, even though it probably seems impossible at the moment.
Remember the song, “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday?” Damien Lawson of The Voice put on a powerful rendition of the song and changed his life because he was willing to let go of the past. He ignored all the previous rejections and all the naysayers. His performance, against all the odds, kept his dream alive. And, by doing so, he was able to make room for a clean sweep of 4 chair turns.
It took a life-changing moment for “Damien” as he was known on the show to make his music career his number one priority. He was working at LAX airport when a gunman killed a co-worker and injured Damien’s partner. He realized at that moment; it was time to let go of his past failures because we’re not promised a tomorrow.
Think about who or what is holding you back. Is it fear of not being good enough or a person or way of life which no longer serves you well? Is it anger? Pema Chödrön’s book, Don’t Bite the Hook, helps you find freedom from anger and other destructive emotions because you need to let it go.
Why you need to let go
Instead of getting hung up on everyday stressors, and allowing them to trigger the snowball effect that happens when you “bite the hook,”
Chödrön shows you how move on so you stay centered, improve relationships, and stop the downward spiral.
When you’re stuck in an angry or fearful pattern, you can become paralyzed. In this state, you’re probably saying no to yes because it’s difficult to see new opportunities. You want to get to a point in your life, where you’re saying “yes” to the life you have.
David Hawkins, MD, Ph.D., believes inner blocks prevent you from experiencing joy, happiness, love, fulfillment, and success. In Letting Go, Hawkins shows you a simple way to free yourself of negativity and find the pathway of surrender, so you ultimately feel enlightened.
It’s a freeing experience. It’s like the weight of the world lifts off your shoulders. You’re no longer trapped and feeling powerless to climb your way out.
When you hold onto the pain, hurt, or anger, you don’t feel any better about it. You can’t change what’s happened, but you can change the future.
When you let go, you no longer let the past define you. Damien forgot about the naysayers and carved his path to success. At first, it may feel uncomfortable to step outside your comfort zone, but eventually, it’ll feel freeing when you say goodbye to yesterday.
Letting go of the past
Tony Robbins describes letting go as “releasing your old story to create a better one.” When you hold onto the past, you have a harder time reaching your goals.
Follow this three-step path to let go of your past so you can move on:
- Focus on the why.
- Accept responsibility.
- Ask yourself, what’s the impact of living negatively?
- Move on.
First, you have to think about the “why.” Why are you holding onto the past? Is it just what you’ve always known? Perhaps it’s comfortable? As Robbins points out, there’s a comfort and justification in those familiar feelings even if they come from a negative place.
You may even get support from others if you assume the victim role. However, others may grow tired of you constantly seeking pity.
It’s also empowering to think you’re right about something. It’s a way to make sense of what happened. But pointing blame does more harm than good.
Robbins points out that when the reality is ugly and heartbreaking, it’s human nature to blame someone else. However, that only hurts you rather than the person you’re blaming silently or explicitly.
Secondly, dig deep and accept responsibility. Your past relationship didn’t crumble just because of the other person. What role did you play in it?
Third, recognize the impact of holding onto the negativity. For example, anger takes a physical and mental toll.
Fourth, move on! Give yourself grace for your past missteps, learn from them, and change the outcome the next time.
Perspective is everything. Are you a glass half empty or half full person?
If your day doesn’t go as planned, do you always react the same way? Is it a habit of yours to repeatedly feel overwhelmed, sad, and angry?
Robbins encourages you to control the meaning you attach to life events. You won’t be able to change your perspective overnight, but if you take small steps, you’ll be able to see life through a new lens because you’ll control the meaning.
It may mean you have to forgive. That’s tough to do, but it’s an essential step in moving onward with life. It may not heal the wound, but at least it’ll bring happiness to your soul.
Inspirational author, Catherine Ponder, has a great quote on the healing powers of forgiveness.
When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.Catherine Ponder
The ultimate goal isn’t to make the other person like you more. It’s ultimately to make yourself feel better so you can focus on what’s important for your eternal happiness.
How to be happy in life
Take small steps toward a better tomorrow. Think about what happens when you release the air contained inside a balloon. If you poke it with something, the balloon makes a popping noise and it deflates quickly.
In real life, that’s you when you release all your frustrations at once in the form of anger. Perhaps you shout, yell, punch or show some other type of aggression. That anger doesn’t solve the problem. It probably makes it worse especially if it’s directed at someone else. You may even feel more deflated.
The goal is to eliminate these dramatic events and find happiness in life. Think about the beauty of a balloon or Chinese lantern lifting into the sky. It’s more beautiful floating upward than down. Frame your own life in the same way. Find something that brings you joy and makes you feel fulfilled. Be a better version of you!
Also, when a balloon naturally releases air over time, it’s not as dramatic. It gradually loses air and still dances through the air as it moves to the ground. It doesn’t make any noise, nor does it dramatically shrivel up. It’s a natural and graceful process.
Your life can be the same way. When you let go of your troubles and painful past, you’ll be able to dance through life. Anger will decrease, and you’ll feel happier and free as you lift the weight of the world off your shoulders. Like a balloon, you’ll rise above.
Secrets to happiness
How do you do find happiness? The secret is taking small steps to let go of the past.
First, breathe! Again, start with the basics. Be mindful of things, and focus on the present rather than the future and past. Setting aside five minutes a day to focus on your breath. Being mindful can start to change your outlook on life.
If you want a “real” teacher on this, consider Lodro Rinzler’s book, The Buddha Walks into a Bar. She helps you learn to meditate in a life filled with beer, sex, and a boss who doesn’t get you. Whether you’re into Buddhist teachings or not, Rinzler’s funny take on things helps you realize your spiritual side so you can make a difference in your own life and that of others.
If this isn’t up your alley, try exercise. You’ll physically and mentally feel better. It’s a great way to distract your mind and reset it.
Whatever works for you, try something. Get rid of your painful past, the all-consuming stress of life, and release the things that are holding you back.
If it’s stress that has you down, release it little by little. Learn how with monthly guided stress relief exercises.
Let go of that hot air inside you before it consumes you and pops! It’s possible to live a happy life once you allow yourself to let go of your painful past.
What are you going to let go of in your life?