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We’ve all been there before. Struggling to let go. Whether it was a relationship, a certain lifestyle or a job. Situations where we knew it was wiser to let go, nevertheless kept clinging on for much too long. Not to mention that we are in fact not into change at all. We humans tend to get stuck in shiny golden cages and well-protected comfort zones. Even those that make us unhappy. You might be right now, while you are reading this.
Why do we choose to keep struggling? Why don’t we simply spread our wings and fly out into the wide world? It’s not that we don’t get any clear and well-intentioned advice from others. To just let go. To jump out. To take the risk. That you deserve better. That you will be much happier in the end.
I’ve learned – the hard way – that too much focus on letting go has one result only, and that is that exactly the thing you want to let go is getting way bigger in your head and by consequence in your life than it should be. Letting go becomes an everything predominating struggle. It is crippling. Limiting. Unhealthy. And above all extremely energy consuming. And that is exactly the opposite of what letting go should be all about. Right?
What to do? Here are 5 tips.
1. Know the benefits of not letting go
Although I would never encourage anyone to overthink, nor to keep reliving the past, this is an important step. It is seeking an understanding of what is holding you back to move forward. As in what is the benefit your golden cage brings? I’m not as much referring to your job here but to why you are hanging on to the past or to something that does not serve you any longer. What is the “comfort” in your self-chosen comfort zone? If you ask me it is time for a self-reflection exercise.
2. Instead of struggling to let go, let it hurt
As a coach I’ve learned through working with many clients that there is only one way out the struggle, and that is straight through the pain. We can’t just park things indefinitely. Although some people are very well trained in doing that. The sorrow. The sadness. The loneliness. The lack of passion. The lack of trust. The lost sense of belonging. The unhappiness. Instead of ignoring the pain, be honest with yourself. Allow yourself to simply feel what you feel. And let it hurt if it does.
3. Find a healthy way to release the emotion from your body
Getting stuck long enough always brings a feeling of discomfort and stress to your body. So does breaking up with whatever was holding you back. You may feel sad. Angry. Completely lost. Hurt. Find your way to release these emotions. Go to the gym. Play an instrument. Listen to your favourite music. Paint, craft, do something creative. Go outside. Walk in the woods. Look for open water. Cook a good meal. Invite a friend. Do good deeds. Engage in your community. Or just breathe.
4. Let it heal
When you are able to focus on today and you have found a healthy way to let your emotions flow, it is important to have compassion for everyone including yourself. Release judgements, forgive yourself and others, and accept help. Focus on what you can change and free yourself from the expectations of others. Let go of competition and know that you are good enough just the way you are. Give yourself time to heal. Be patient. Be grateful for what remains. And have faith in what will be.
5. Hold on to your values
This last one I surprisingly found to be very liberating. What are your personal values? Are you living your life accordingly? Take some time to write them down. When you have done that, see what direction they lead you in. Does the way you lead your life today need some adjusting? Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. Lead from within. Lead with example. Your path is yours and yours alone and you decide which way you go. In need of a decision? Stay or go? Stick to your values. You will know what to do.
Any other tips? Looking forward to your input!
About the author
Being a certified executive and personal coach, Sofie Varrewaere is associated to the Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching team and owner of the global executive coaching practice BigFish4.me. As a behavioural expert she has many years of experience working with the top layer of several multinational organizations. Her passions include playing her quarter grand piano and messing around with acrylic paint on large sized linen canvas. When she’s not catching some proverbial Big Fish, you’ll probably find her in her daily boxing class or in the swimming pool. She is luckiest doing what she does best, challenging others and herself to perform at their best