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The Art of Letting Go: How to Release What No Longer Serves You

Letting go is hard. It’s normal to be gripped with discomfort whenever you think of the lace tablecloth sewn by your grandmother or that childhood trinket disappearing from your life forever. That finality can be overwhelming, especially for people who have a more sentimental nature, become easily attached, or simply don’t know how to let go.

Here’s a roadmap to get you started.

Take Inventory

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Be honest about your life, how things are making you feel, and how certain things no longer contribute to your mental health or wellbeing, in one or all areas of your life. Whether it’s a person, situation, habit or relationship, taking this first step is crucial in being able to let go. It helps us remove the heart-shaped glasses that make us romanticize things that should no longer be part of our lives.

Decide What Has to Go

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Get clarity on what needs to be removed from your life: that cluttered wardrobe, some bad habits, a toxic relationship, or friends that are not supportive. It can be hard to make this decision, but it’s empowering to exert control over your life, especially in areas that are causing you pain.

Process Your Feelings

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Give yourself permission to feel whatever complicated, beautifully human emotions come up as a result of this process. Let yourself feel the sadness from parting with an item you haven’t used in years. Feel the grief from parting with a plushie from an ex that just gives you heartache whenever you glance at it.

Feel the emotion, and then let it go. Processing emotions is unique to each individual, but journaling, talking to a friend, therapy, and meditation are some of the most common ways to do this inner work.

Create a Plan

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Having a step-by-step plan can make letting go easier, even if it’s a person or a job. Letting go of a friend may require deleting their number and photos. A messy break-up might require additional steps like unlinking calendars or bank accounts.

It’s helpful to have a roadmap for life changes. For instance, if you want to move to a different job, the roadmap would include things like applying to new jobs, researching interview questions, and undergoing interviews.

Start Setting Boundaries

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Out of sight, out of mind. Clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, PhD, confirms this strategy:Creating physical or psychological distance between ourselves and the person or situation can help with letting go for the simple reason that we are not having to think about it, process it, or being reminded of it as much.”

Depending on what you want to release, this can mean unfollowing people’s social media, avoiding certain locations you might bump into them, or in some way limiting the interactions you might have, online or otherwise.

Look on the Bright Side

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Having a positive outlook can shift your perspective. What are the benefits of letting go of this? What lessons did it teach you? How has it made you a better or wiser person? Maybe your home is more spacious and uncluttered, your mind feels clear and inspired, or your spirit feels enriched after you’ve released what no longer resonates.

Lean on Your Support System

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We are social creatures, and it is natural and healthy to reach out to our family, friends, or peers when in need of support. If you need a shoulder to cry on, a friend to offload to, or a therapist’s professional guidance, feel free to ask for help. Nobody can handle everything on their own, and they shouldn’t have to.

Practice Mindfulness and Meditation

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Another coping mechanism you can use if you’re struggling after letting go is practicing mindfulness and meditation techniques. These can aid you in living your life with higher awareness and enjoyment of the moment instead of hiding in distractions or productivity.

Self-Care Practices

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Throughout this journey, taking care of yourself is essential. You can prioritize hobbies, activities, and practices that nurture your mind, body, and heart. These can range from a cute face mask and bubble bath to journaling, therapy, or even weightlifting. You can choose anything that helps you relax or uplifts you.

Be Gentle With Yourself

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Letting go is a process that takes time, and it differs from person to person. It can take a couple of days, or it can take a couple of years to grow comfortable with the change. Through this process, be patient and gentle with yourself. You are being brave and venturing into uncharted territories. Getting out of your comfort zone is not easy, and you should be proud of yourself for making this step.

Embrace New Opportunities

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Once you are comfortable with the empty space left behind, you can brainstorm ways to replace that space in a beneficial way. Think of new hobbies or sports that resonate with a healthier version of you. Think of volunteering or side hustles that nourish your mind. Or you can think of new friendships you’d like to form and where to find them (a book club is always a great start!) or the kind of romantic relationship you truly desire. Embrace new opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Author: S.K. Lumen

Title: Writer

Expertise: women's personal development, mental health, self love

S.K. Lumen is a writer, artist and blogger who is passionate about helping women become their best selves. She writes about personal development, self-love, self-care, wellness & mental health.