Whether you are trying to rid your home of unnecessary items or free yourself from a toxic relationship, learning to let go can be difficult. While there is no single method for how to let things go, keeping a few strategies in mind can help you get started. If you are hoping to embrace the art of letting go, keep the following ideas in mind.

Start Small

“If you have a dream, you can spend a lifetime studying, planning, and getting ready for it. What you should be doing is getting started.” -Drew Houston

If you are hoping to declutter your home, you may be able to tackle the project in one fell swoop. Letting go of a significant relationship, quitting a job, or moving to a new city will most likely be a bit more daunting. Learning the art of letting go does not need to happen overnight, it happens over time. Try some of the following small steps to get you started toward your end goal.

  • Identify one tangible step. If you are hoping to quit your job, set aside some time to update your resume so you can start applying to new jobs. If you are exploring the possibility of moving away from your hometown, try making a list of a few cities you would be like to live in and the benefits of each. You don’t have to complete your “letting go” goal in one swoop. Identifying tangible steps you can take toward letting go will give you a starting point and help you move forward.
  • Acknowledge what you are feeling. Try not to bury your emotions. If you are sad about a relationship ending, or anxious about how your life may change when you let go of something, acknowledge those feelings, but do not let them overtake you. Suppressing emotions can take a toll on mental health, so taking some time to acknowledge feelings of sadness or disappointment can be beneficial for your well-being in the long run.
  • Think positively. Make a list of things you have accomplished or relationships you cherish. Focusing on the positive can help you focus on the big picture and what you have to gain. It can also help you take your mind off loss and refocus your energy on the things that make you happy.

Consider What You Can and Cannot Control

“Don’t be a prisoner to things you can’t change.” -Tony Gaskins

Having a clear understanding of what you can and cannot control in your life can help you learn the art of letting go. For example, you can control what time you wake up in the morning, how much effort you put into a project, and whether or not you make it to the gym. You cannot control what another person thinks of your work, whether you are the best candidate for a position, or another person’s feelings for you. Harnessing what you can control, and not letting things you cannot control get you down can help you learn to let go. Some healthy ways to cope with the things outside your control include:   

  • Determine what is within and what is beyond your control. Oftentimes, the only thing you can control is you. Taking some time to evaluate the things in your life you can and cannot control, including your reactions and attitude, can help you let go of toxicity and channel your energy into tangible things you can do to make positive change.
  • Avoid over-analyzing. Some people tend to replay troublesome conversations over and over in their head, or think through their past actions wondering what went wrong. While it is important to learn from past actions, continuously re-examining the things you cannot change may create more stress in your life.
  • Find a healthy outlet to relieve stress. Most people cannot control the stressors in their life. They can, however, control how they deal with that stress. Exercising, reducing caffeine intake, saying no when you are overwhelmed, and spending time with pets are a few simple ways to help relieve your stress.  

Embrace Risk

“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” ― William Faulkner

Embracing risk can be a great tool for discovering the art of letting go. While you may be comfortable in your daily routine – going to a job you’ve had for years or being in a difficult relationship – could letting go of those things benefit you in the long run? Opting for the unknown instead of what is comfortable can be stressful, can be a key ingredient in the art of letting go. Success.com recommends the following strategies for taking risks in your life:

  • Stop thinking negatively. Do not tell yourself “I cannot” or “there is no way” when a risk is on the table. Instead of telling yourself “no,” start thinking about “what if’s’?” Ask yourself “What if I took two weeks off and went to Europe?” “What if I took my dream job in a different city?” Eliminating “no” and “I cannot” from your vocabulary can help you on your path to taking risks.
  • Be smart with your risks. Taking risks does not mean throwing caution to the wind and proceeding carelessly. If you dislike your job but need to pay the bills, you may choose to find a new income source before quitting. If you’re ready to dive in and book a vacation abroad for the first time, you may want to research the country before flying out.
  • Go for it. If you are a cautious person, you may be the type to analyze something so much that you never actually do it. While making informed decisions is important, at some point you will need to take the leap and give your boss two weeks notice or buy your plane ticket!

Think About What You Are Gaining

“Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it’s something you design for in the present.” -Jim Rohn

Part of the beauty of the art of letting go is that it opens the door to new opportunities. By ending an unhealthy relationship, you create space for others you care about. Quitting a job you hate creates space to follow your passion and find something you truly enjoy doing. Instead of thinking about the comforts and simplicity you have to lose, focus instead on all you have to gain by making space for inspiration and growth in your life!

For more pro-tips about how to let things go, check out Alo Moves‘ instructor Dylan Werner’s take on being happy without a home.

Megan Herndon

Megan is a Seattle-based writer who covers health and wellness. She has worked in content marketing and journalism for a number of organizations including The Seattle Globalist, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and The Jakarta Globe. She has a BA in journalism from the University of Washington and is currently working on her second UW degree, a Master of Communication and Digital Media. Born and raised in Hawaii and currently embracing the Pacific Northwest lifestyle, Megan loves all things active and outdoors including hiking, camping, outrigger canoe paddling, and yoga.

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