Letting go is an art.
If you don’t let go, whatever you are holding on to will hold you back.
The argument you had with your spouse, the guilt over a deed done (or not done), a relationship that no longer serves you, a habit that hurts you, or even fear of the unknown.
Letting that stuff dissolve away is hard to do. Our brains are hard-wired to hang on to negativity.
There are a few things you can do to help make the letting go easier and maybe even faster.
1. Acknowledge what you need to let go. The first step to solving a problem is acknowledging that the problem exists! Gather all the negative stuff up (bad relationships, anger, resentment etc.), write it down on a sheet of paper, make a promise to yourself to begin the work of letting it all go, and then trash it. Or, if you are more adventurous, burn it but in a safe way.
2. The practice of Aparigraha. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali describes the five moral restraints for daily life, also known as the Yama. The Yama are self-regulating behaviors involving our interactions with other people and the world at large.
While Aparigraha, the fifth Yama, is most often discussed with regard to non-greed or non-possessiveness, it also pertains to the non-attachment to feelings, behaviors, patterns and people. It is the practice of letting go of both physical and non-physical things.
3. Replacement Therapy: Positive for Negative. Patanjali also offers up a practice called replacement therapy in the second chapter of the Yoga Sutras.
It’s the simple process of replacing negative thoughts and feelings with positive. And it works. You can absolutely retrain your brain by doing this. It takes a bit of practice for it to become a habit but it’s worth the effort and the results.
When you find yourself stuck in a negative thought pattern filled with anger, resentment, worry or disappointment—acknowledge it and reverse it. Keep a running list of happy and positive things you can reverse it to.
4. Gratitude. Yes, we talk about gratitude a lot and for a reason—it works. When you can regularly list myriad things you are grateful for it is much harder to hold on the negative thoughts and behaviors.
Starting your day with an attitude of gratitude will set you up for positive thought success. If you are thinking positively there is no room for the negative.
It’s not passive or simply giving up.
Letting go is healthy. Letting go is courageous.
Imagine what it would feel like to let go of a lifetime of accumulated disappointment, anger, and resentment. You will feel much lighter, happier and even more successful if you ditch what’s holding you back in favor if what can propel you forward!
Letting go is the ultimate zen habit for any of us to master. It is literally the single most powerful (and simple) skill we can cultivate in life.