Bad blood and holding grudges come naturally to most of us without effort or thought. Even when we become aware of its harmful consequences and the benefits of letting go, we hold on to bitterness and grievances as if our entire lives depend on it.
Why are we hard-wired to such negativity? What do we think we can achieve with that?
Often we hold onto fear, anger, frustration, and resentment because it offers us a false reassurance of being in control. But to what grief?
Are you having trouble convincing yourself to let go? Or are you unsure how to?
Read on to learn the psychology behind letting go and how to make it happen by overcoming your inane resistance. You will find here a few quotes on the topic from famous personalities from around the world as well as letting go of affirmations to help you live a happy and content life.
The Psychology of Letting Go
Letting go is typically associated with negative habits, thoughts, and emotions. The same can apply to positive ones as well. The difference between the two is huge. While letting go of negative traits, you would feel a huge relief, but letting go of positive things can make us feel regret and a sense of loss.
Letting go may apply to a toxic relationship, harmful habits, or extra workload. Or it may be about high expectations that are doing more harm than good. Troubling memories, wrong beliefs, incessant comparisons, scathing judgments, broken promises, constant complaining, procrastinating, self-criticism, perfectionism, aversion to saying “no”, blame-game, feeling of entitlement, and your tendency to make mountains out of molehills – there are quite a few things you can let go.
On the other hand, you may let go of the dream you once had or your old-fashioned ways. These are bitter-sweet as they are essential for you to move on in life yet painful as they remain unrealized or unviable. Being in a situation where you are forced to let go of fond memories is indeed sad.
Without external or internal prompts, letting go doesn’t happen in the ordinary scheme of things. Often we are motivated to let go for the sake of a desirable change or as a consequence of the realization that we want or deserve more. Letting go is also part of the grieving process to help us come to terms with a significant loss.
Inevitable or necessary as it may be, letting go can be difficult, unnerving, and terrifying. The unknown factor and the uncertainty associated with it can be hard to handle. Leaving behind the familiar setup – even if they are undesirable – to enter the strange territory can be scary for the boldest of us all.
You may regret the moment you embark on this adventure and want to go back. You may feel that it is easier to stay put and not to take the chance.
The act of acceptance and letting go is bound to have a huge impact on our mindset as well as emotional and physical well-being. When you let go of something positive in your life, such as a successful marriage, a well-paying job, or fond memories, you will feel a sense of loss, confusion, and uncertainty. This may lead to sadness, depression, or even hopelessness.
On the other hand, letting go of negative things, such as an unhappy relationship, a stressful job, or traumatic memories can give you the release you desperately want. This can improve your mood, confidence, self-esteem, and sense of well-being. This can allow you to move on in life.
This leads us to the next question – How to release the past?
How to let go of the past and be happy?
All your life you may just skim through its various aspects without touching anything deeper. However, if you want to let go of something, you need to take a step back and take in what is going on and gain a deeper understanding of your emotions and thoughts. As you do this often, your ability to observe and understand your mind will come naturally to you.
When you find yourself grappling with a painful experience, you will find your mind revisiting the experience, trying to make sense of it. To let go of this experience, you need to gain an understanding of how your mind works and why it is drawn to such painful thoughts. You need to be able to accept what you feel and think to get past the painful experience.
One of the common tactics used to succeed in letting go is to refocus your awareness on a better experience. This can be internal like your breathing or external like music. The process of acceptance and letting go doesn’t happen overnight. It is a long and arduous process that will require oodles of patience and persistence.
What works for one may not be useful for another. Psychologists decide how to approach this after assessing each individual and their experiences. Numerous therapeutic techniques are available to tackle this situation. While some involve revisiting the trauma and healing the wounds, others focus on the present and setting goals to achieve.
No matter how the situation is approached, the desired outcome remains the same – a person is no longer haunted by the undesirable elements of the past and happy and content in the present.
Letting go and moving on quotes
“You can only lose what you cling to.” – Buddha
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” – Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.” – Oprah Winfrey
“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.” – Eckhart Tolle
“Letting go gives us freedom and freedom is the only condition for happiness.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.” – Herman Hesse
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“Time doesn’t heal emotional pain, you need to learn how to let go.” – Roy T. Bennett
“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell
“The more you let yourself go, the less others let you go.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
60 daily affirmations for letting go
Therapy and counseling can help you shed your obsession with the past. However, if you want to try to shake it off by yourself, positive affirmations for healing are immensely helpful. Here are a few forgiveness affirmations to help you get started on a new life path. You can use them as mantras for letting go and moving on.
- I choose to let go.
- I am slowly releasing my need to control.
- I am free from grievances and hard feelings.
- I accept that others may not agree with me.
- Every time I breathe out, I am releasing anger.
- I honor the feelings and choices of others.
- I have freed myself from the shackles of the past.
- I am giving up the need to be correct and embracing the need to be compassionate.
- I am not defined by my past.
- I acknowledge the existence of things I can’t control.
- I am free from anger and resentment.
- As I am letting go of anger, my heart feels lighter.
- I am choosing to focus on the present.
- I forgive those who wronged me in the past.
- By learning to forgive myself, I am making it easier to forgive others.
- I accept my shortcomings and forgive myself unconditionally.
- I let myself be forgiven.
- I always have had everything to be happy and content.
- Every mistake or failure is a learning experience and nothing more.
- I don’t need anything more to feel happy and fulfilled.
- Self-loathing doesn’t serve me in any way.
- I choose to forgive and love everyone who has hurt me in the past.
- I feel free to be my true self.
- I treat everyone with love and kindness, even when I don’t agree with them.
- I accept myself as I am.
- I love myself with all my imperfections.
- I treat myself with love and respect from now onwards.
- I give up my shame and self-pity and embrace myself as it is.
- I let go of things that are blocking my progress.
- I am grateful for all past experiences, good as well as bad.
- I give up my habit of brooding over trivial matters.
- I am learning to accept others exactly as they are.
- I am letting go of past guilt and regrets and focusing on the present.
- I am working on clearing my chaotic and cluttered mind.
- I no longer judge myself for the mistakes.
- I don’t feel the need to hold grudges.
- I am free of emotional baggage.
- I let go of my possessions to lead a simple life.
- I am giving and accepting love without conditions and constraints.
- I forgive myself for my flaws and weaknesses.
- My life is where I want it to be.
- I am putting my painful past behind me.
- I let go of the urge to criticize myself as well as others.
- I do not dwell in the past sufferings and waste away this beautiful life.
- I am focusing on the present moment and building a life filled with love.
- I am taking away the power that the past has on me.
- I am learning to accept things as they are and not try to control them.
- I give myself the amazing gift of self-forgiveness.
- The past is over and the future is not yet here. I choose to live in the present.
- Change is the only constant in life.
- I come out of the prison of anger and step into the world of love.
- I am learning to distinguish between rational fears and illogical ones.
- I am done with beating myself up for the mistakes of others.
- I take charge of my happiness and contentment.
- I am ready to move forward in my life.
- I am choosing to let go of all things that are no longer serving me.
- I am feeling at peace with myself and ready to live my life.
- I am good enough in my own way.
- I understand now that worrying doesn’t help or change anything.
- I give myself permission to move on in life.
When you were holding onto grudges and painful memories and keeping them alive in your mind, you may have been trying to control the narrative of your past, present, and future. You may even have been under the delusion that you are causing hurt or harm to the people you were mean to you. However, all it managed to do was to hurt yourself and keep you in constant misery.
By letting go of control, you are releasing the power these bad happenings have over you. With this, you are preventing those people from hurting you anymore. You are regaining control of your life’s narrative. And, by forgiving others, you are doing yourself a good turn by releasing yourself from the shadow of miserable memories.
You reap what you sow. Accept that people who wronged you will get what they deserve and you don’t need to torment yourself over this.
Life’s too short for holding grudges. Enjoy it to the fullest when you can.
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- 100 Grief Journal Prompts for Healing
- 30 Shadow Work Prompts for Letting Go