Estimated Reading Time: 8 MinutesLetting Go: The Truth About Being Free And Moving Forward

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.”

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Letting go is a concept that is often easier said than done. It involves releasing memories and emotional attachments to people, places, things, or situations from your past.


Being humans, we are creatures of habit. We prefer not to take risks but instead opt to stay in our comfort zone. Even when it is not in our best interest, we like to cling on to our painful past.


Whether it’s a relationship, a job, or a possession, the act of letting go can be emotionally challenging and difficult.

Many of us cling to things or people because we are afraid, attached to them, or need closure. I’ll discuss the numerous causes of why letting go can be difficult in this post. I will then discuss the benefits of letting go and strategies for how to let go in an empowering way.




You feel better and improve your attitude, self-esteem, and confidence when you let go. But why is letting go so challenging?


Letting Go Is Hard: Why Is It So?

Past events that have affected your life are deeply ingrained in your subconscious thinking. Because you need to frequently confront and process challenging feelings like sadness, anger, and guilt, letting go can be challenging.


It can also be difficult to let go if there is a lack of closure or unresolved feelings. Here are 5 scenarios where letting go seems like an impossibly difficult task:

    1. Relationship Endings

Losing someone you care about sucks, whether it’s in a romantic or close friendship. Accepting that a relationship is over and moving on can be a daunting experience.


    1. Career Changes

You feel secure and like you have an identity thanks to the profession you’ve worked very hard at. It is never simple to leave a job or career that has brought comfort for so long.


    1. Grief and Loss

The grieving and recovery process after a loved one’s passing can be quite stressful. You would have a hard time accepting the reality of the situation. Release from this painful process can be lengthy and arduous.


    1. Habits and Addictions

Because your habit or addiction has ingrained itself into your daily routine, it’s difficult to imagine living without it.




    1. Emotional Trauma

In processing your emotional traumas, you’re required to face difficult memories and emotions. These traumas might have created feelings of numbness, alienation, and distrust in other people.


Letting go requires significant changes in your life. It’s not an easy task to just say good-bye to pain, suffering, and psychological trauma.


Holding On Versus Letting Go

Renowned psychiatrist and physician David Hawkins wrote in his ground-breaking book, Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender:

“We hang on to pain. It certainly satisfies our unconscious need for the alleviation of guilt through punishment. We get to feel miserable and rotten. The question then arises, ‘But for how long?’”


Hawkins addresses on the notion of holding on to pain and how doing so might be bad for one’s mental and emotional health. You can’t have joy and happiness in the here and now if you’re holding on.


You must learn to let go of your anguish and submit to the present moment if you want to experience true inner peace. Emotional development, greater self-awareness, and better mental health can result from letting go.


It allows you to experience a sense of inner peace and freedom. Instead of clinging to the past, adopt new perspectives and embrace things as they are.


But how can this be achieved? What do you need to do to move forward and be free?




Moving On Or Moving Forward?

You may have noticed that I talked about moving forward and not moving on. Moving on and moving forward are often used interchangeably, but they can have slightly different meanings.


Moving on typically refers to the process of letting go of a difficult or painful experience. A relationship ending or the death of a loved one fall under this category. It involves processing emotions, finding closure, and moving past the experience.


Everyone’s strategy for moving on may be unique, but it typically entails a mix of emotional, psychological, and practical steps.


Some common steps people take when trying to move on include:

    • Allowing yourself to grieve and feel the pain of the loss.
    • Finding healthy ways to cope with your emotions. This includes activities such as talking to friends or family, journaling, or engaging in self-care activities.
    • Finding new interests and hobbies to fill the void left by the loss.
    • Building a support system of people who understand and can offer comfort and guidance.
    • Focusing on the present moment and setting small, achievable goals to work towards.
    • Seeking forgiveness, whether it be for yourself or someone else, and learning to let go of resentment and anger.




Just remember that moving on is a process that takes time. And it’s normal to have setbacks or moments of feeling stuck.


But with time, perseverance, and dedication, you will be able to move on and write new chapters in your life.


Say Goodbye To Your Past

On the other hand, growing and pushing on in life is referred to as moving forward. It often implies taking action, setting new goals, and creating a new sense of purpose or direction.


It’s about living a fulfilling and joyful life once more and not lingering on the past. The two concepts often go hand in hand.


It’s crucial to let go of past experiences and feelings before moving on. Yet, moving forward is about building a new future, whereas moving on is about letting go of the past.


So how can you tell if you are moving on or moving forward?


It might be challenging to determine with certainty whether you have moved on from a significant loss. The healing process is often challenging and complex.


However, there are some signs that may indicate that you have moved on:

    • You’re able to think about the event or person without feeling overwhelming emotions like sadness or anger.
    • You can continue to enjoy the activities and hobbies you had before the loss or change.
    • You’re able to focus on the present and future rather than dwelling on the past.
    • You are able to accept the reality of the loss or change and find meaning in it.


It’s crucial to keep in mind that moving on doesn’t mean forgetting what happened or the person you lost. It just means that you’re able to function and enjoy life again.




Letting Go In Five Stages

Everyone moves on at different times and in different ways. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, and there’s no specific timeline.


There are many different models of the stages of moving on after a significant loss or change. One of the most popular models is the five stages of grief, as proposed by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.


These stages are:

    1. Denial

In this stage, individuals may refuse to accept that the loss or change has occurred.


    1. Anger

As the reality of the loss or change sinks in, individuals may experience feelings of anger and resentment.


    1. Bargaining

In this stage, individuals may try to negotiate or make deals in order to regain what has been lost.


    1. Depression

Individuals may feel depressed and hopeless as the reality of the loss or change sinks in more fully.


    1. Acceptance

In this final stage, individuals may come to accept the loss or change. They are ready to move forward with their lives.


It is important to note that:

    1. Not everyone will go through these stages in a linear fashion.
    2. Some people may experience these stages more than once.
    3. Also, some people may not experience all the stages.


The Healing Power of Acceptance

When you reach the acceptance stage, that’s a sign that you’re ready to move forward with your life. Acceptance is based on the principle that painful emotions are an inevitable part of life.


Steven Hayes, a psychologist known for his work in the field of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), defined acceptance as:

“Taking a stance of non-judgmental awareness and actively embracing the experience of thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations as they occur.”




When we accept something, we are acknowledging its presence rather than fighting against it. This can lessen emotional pain and foster a sense of tranquility and wellbeing.


Whenever you’re confronted with these emotional challenges, you have two distinct choices: to resist or to accept. Whether or whether not you choose to embrace it, these emotions will still have an effect on you.


Carl Rogers, who founded the client-centered school of psychology, advocated that acceptance is the key to personal change. He once wrote:

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”


Rogers was a humanistic psychologist who believed that people have the innate tendency to grow and self-actualize. He believed that when people resist their true feelings and desires, it can lead to psychological problems.


Rogers strongly encouraged his clients to accept and explore their emotions instead of suppressing or denying them. Suppressing your feelings and thoughts may make things worse for you.


Acceptance is the first step in your rehabilitation and proof that your efforts to let go are working.


But what if you’re dealing with complex emotions, challenging situations, or unchangeable circumstances?


The Case For Radical Acceptance

When dealing with difficult situations or unchangeable circumstances (chronic illnesses, traumatic events, difficult relationships), radical acceptance may be the answer.


Radical acceptance is based on the idea that the connection to the pain, rather than the pain itself, is the main cause of suffering.


The person behind the concept of radical acceptance is Dr. Marsha Linehan. She struggled with borderline personality disorder herself, which inspired the creation of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).


Radical acceptance is a DBT technique that involves fully accepting all of the painful past or present in its entirety. According to Dr. Linehan:

“Radical acceptance rests on letting go of the illusion of control and a willingness to notice and accept things as they are right now, without judging.”




This method helps one cope with difficult situations or emotions, such as chronic pain, trauma, or loss. The goal is to accept reality as it is rather than to fight it.


Radical acceptance helps you ease your struggles with difficult emotions such as grief, anger, or sadness. When you resist these emotions, you’ll become trapped in them, and they can become overwhelming.


Use this quote by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung to remind yourself of the effects of resisting your emotions:

“What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.”


Radical acceptance is the final stage of letting go. It gives you the assurance that you can live with your difficulties without being consumed by them.


Accepting what is enables you to react to any circumstance effectively and calmly.


So, how do you begin the practice of radical acceptance?


Letting Go And Moving Forward

When you practice radical acceptance, you’re acknowledging and accepting your thoughts, feelings, and circumstances, rather than trying to suppress them.


Practicing radical acceptance in everyday situations is tough. There will be instances when emotions are so overwhelming that you cannot even entertain the thought of acceptance.


But it can be incredibly beneficial for your mental and emotional well-being. Here are five strategies that may help:


    1. Practice mindfulness

Being mindful means being in the moment and conscious of your surroundings, thoughts, and feelings. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment. This makes it easier for you to accept them.


    1. Identify and challenge negative thoughts

Negative thoughts and beliefs can make it difficult to accept certain situations. When you notice a negative thought, try to challenge it by questioning its validity and considering alternative perspectives.


    1. Let go of control

It can be hard to accept things that we feel we can’t control. Remind yourself that you can’t control everything and that some things are out of your hands. Letting go of the need to control everything can help you be more accepting.


    1. Reflect on your values

Think about what matters most to you and how you want to live your life. Reflect on your values, as they can help you prioritize what is important. It also makes it easier to accept things that may not align with your values.


    1. Seek professional help

If you’re having trouble accepting certain situations, consider seeking the help of a therapist or counselor. They can help you understand and work through your feelings and develop strategies for accepting difficult situations.



Remember that adopting an attitude of acceptance takes time and practice; be patient with yourself.



Radical acceptance is not a one-time thing. You need to continuously practice it because it takes time and effort to achieve this ability.


It’s crucial to understand that radical acceptance doesn’t mean letting go of what you value. It means accepting that certain things are beyond your control.


This in turn leads to greater emotional stability and more effective interactions with other people. It will encourage you to move forward in a more positive direction and make progress in your life.


Linehan summarized her technique in three steps:

    1. Accepting things as they are in reality
    2. Accepting that there’s a reason for the event or circumstance that causes the pain
    3. Accepting that despite the painful event, life can be worth living


This method echoes the philosophical teachings of the Stoics. In the words of the ancient Greek Stoic, Epitetus:

“Don’t hope that events will turn out the way you want, welcome events in whatever way they happen. This is the path to peace.”


This mindset alone can make a huge difference in how you cope and move on with life. Moving on after a difficult experience takes time, and it’s not always a linear process.


Radical acceptance, in my experience, can be liberating. You must focus on what you can change while accepting what you cannot change.


This is part of the process of letting go, moving forward, and being free.

DISCLOSURE: In my article, I’ve mentioned a few products and services, all in a valiant attempt to turbocharge your life. Some of them are affiliate links. This is basically my not-so-secret way of saying, “Hey, be a superhero and click on these links.” When you joyfully tap and spend, I’ll be showered with some shiny coins, and the best part? It won’t cost you an extra dime, not even a single chocolate chip. Your kind support through these affiliate escapades ensures I can keep publishing these useful (and did I mention free?) articles for you in the future.

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