Tip #96: Learn to let go.
The why: In truth, writing this post has proved quite challenging dear reader.
In fact, I began a grand total of five drafts before I finally was able to get the words out.
I guess that was because whenever I’ve tried to write it, I wasn’t quite ready to take my own advice.
I wasn’t ready to let go.
And that is actually a really, really hard thing to admit.
It’s like the frustrating feeling of getting to the end of a chapter of a book that we loved, that we didn’t want to ever finish. That the author cruelly cut short before we were ready.
I think we like to believe that as soon as something ends, whether that be a relationship, a friendship, a job, a degree, a period in our lives, that we just get to move on. We get to forget about it. We can just pick ourselves up and carry on as if nothing changed, even though we know that in truth, everything changed.
As that old saying goes; we are never the same person that we were before we came out of the storm.
Whenever we are faced with an ending, it’s truly terrifying, even if the middle wasn’t that happy. Because even if we were unhappy, we had consistency, and that brought us comfort in some weird way.
And endings usually mean a new beginning, which can be rough if you weren’t quite finished, if you didn’t want to have to start again.
We hold on to the happy memories that we had with that person, or in that place, or in that time and we hold on too tight. So tightly, in fact, it gives us rope burn.
I think we do this because we’re afraid, so very afraid, that we won’t find that kind of happiness again.
But change, like so many things in life, is inevitable, and whether you’re ready or not, time will keep going on without you.
So, we have a choice. We can either stay in the past, clinging on to the life-jacket of our memories, or we can keep going, even if we’re unsure of our direction or whether our feet will even have the strength to carry us.
I suppose learning to let go is one of those great lessons that takes a long time to master. But we have to try because, in all likelihood, the goodbyes we have to say in our lives aren’t going to stop, as much as we may like them to.
We can spend hours of our lives ruminating over all the “what ifs” and “buts” and mistakes we think we made, but living in the past is a very lonely place. Particularly if the world is going on without you. Particularly if they’re going on without you.
So, what can we do?
I think the biggest thing I have learnt is to let go, we have to accept three things.
Firstly, that as much as we may like to, we can’t change the past.
The past is a solid and fixed thing, despite what you may have seen on Doctor Who.
There is no changing it. There is no going back. What’s done is done.
You can waste your life thinking of all the ways it could have been different, all the ways it could have been better, how angry or hurt you are. Or you can accept it.
Sometimes relationships end, sometimes friendships don’t last as long as we’d hoped, sometimes a job didn’t work out how we’d imagined.
That is alas, life.
Believe me, it takes a while to realise, but accepting the things you cannot change is the key to a happy existence.
Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s difficult. But the first step is admitting to yourself, saying it out loud, that it’s over.
You can only make peace with it and accept it if you truly acknowledge it.
Secondly, that sometimes you’re not going to get the closure you want.
Everyone always talks about ‘getting closure’. The idea that they’ll be a moment where you return somewhere, or have a conversation with someone from your past, and suddenly you’ll feel at peace, like you can finally close that chapter in your story.
Sometimes yes, this will happen.
But other times, it certainly won’t, and we have to be prepared for this.
We have to learn how to find closure within ourselves.
The best way that I’ve found to do this is through forgiveness. Forgiving yourself for your mistakes, and also forgiving them. This means letting go of all the negative emotions surrounding that person or place and accepting that that chapter in your life is truly over.
Sometimes the best closure you can get is the peace you find within yourself – the closure you get when you finally learn to be happy again.
Don’t spend your present being miserable about the past.
Finally, that endings can actually be a good thing.
Learning to let go requires us to recognise the good in an ending, even if it seems like it can only be a bad thing. But with time, we can see the silver lining of goodbyes.
New beginnings may be scary, but they are also a time to transform, to grow, to learn, to change; the very essences of life.
When things end, it may seem unfair and like the universe is out to get you, but if something finished, it finished for a reason. Because it wasn’t right for you.
If it was right, it would have lasted.
Although it may hurt, and may really, really suck, if it didn’t work out, it’s for the best.
All closed doors and endings are doing is putting you on the path to what is actually right for you.
And trust me, when it’s right, you’ll make it work.
Letting go can be a hard and difficult process, full of setbacks and false starts, but we owe it to ourselves to learn how.
We owe it to ourselves to keep moving forward.