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9 components of letting go

Foto door Kamran Ch op Unsplash

I often hear people say: "I can't change it, so I'm letting it go" or "you have to let go" and other such statements. As if letting go is easy.

Letting go is a popular concept these days. It seems as if it is the solution to all conflicts you encounter on your spiritual path.

Letting go is a key concept in Eastern traditions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, and has been adopted by many spiritual 'teachers' of our time. And rightly so. In order to embody love, compassion and pure consciousness, we must indeed let go of some things, namely: 1) our identification with our egoic self, 2) our (conscious and unconscious) programmings and beliefs, and 3) the idea that we are separate from ourselves and from each other.

But that type of letting go is a completely different process than the one where we let go of people, situations and emotions, as if they no longer exist. That's what I call emotionally disconnecting from what presents itself in our reality. Because it seems too difficult or scary to deal with, we give it a nice spiritual word and declare that we are letting go, but what is really happening is that we choose to ignore the problem. This can also be a form of spiritual bypassing (see previous blog about spiritual bypassing).

To paint a picture of how deep and complex letting go actually is, I will highlight 9 components of letting go here.

  1. Accept. The first and most fundamental step in letting go is recognizing a situation or a person for what it is. When reality (people, situations, outcomes) is not what we would like it to be, the first step is to accept it without resistance. Life is fluid and constantly changing. Letting go means learning to understand that change is a natural part of life.

  2. Non-attachment to outcomes. In order to let go, it is important to not be emotionally attached to people, situations or outcomes. This does not mean that we disconnect emotionally and therefore no longer have empathy, compassion and understanding for what is going on. When we are non-attached, we remain emotionally engaged and our hearts remain open. Non-attachment means that we remain deeply connected to ourselves, yet we are not attached to the outcome or end result. Letting go means that we are free to choose a different outcome with our heart instead of our mind.

  3. Mindful awareness. In order to be able to let go, we need to become aware of our thoughts and emotions. This awareness allows us to detach from automatic (unconscious) reactions, creating a space to, neutrally and without judgment, witness our thoughts and emotions. How is this situation/person affecting me? Why is this triggering me? Which belief and opinion do I still hold as 'the' truth about this situation or person? We won't be able to really let go unless we know why this particular person or situation affects us. Otherwise letting go is just another word for ignoring.

  4. Understanding. Understanding is central when we want to let go (it really goes hand in hand with nr. 3, mindful awareness). The moment we can see the situation for what it is without judgment and resistance, we can understand why people act the way they do (often because of their own pain and suffering, programs and beliefs). We will also understand why a situation arose and how we perhaps contributed to it by reacting unconsciously (stemming also from our own pain and suffering, programs and beliefs). Suddenly we start to see the situation from a different angle and our grip on how it 'should be' becomes less tight. When we understand the person or the situation, letting go becomes much easier.

  5. Self-compassion. Letting go means that we become softer towards ourselves. Being kind to ourselves (see previous blog), and having understanding and compassion for our humanity, is essential. When we are kind to ourselves, we automatically become kind to others and our environment. Then letting go is perhaps the most compassionate thing you can do for yourself and/or others in a situation.

  6. To forgive. Forgiving yourself and others is a crucial part of letting go. Holding on to judgment, resentment, or guilt can hinder the process, and forgiveness is a powerful step toward emotional freedom. Forgiveness does not mean approving or accepting behavior that harms other people. Absolutely not.

    1. Forgiving ourselves means that we have self-compassion by understanding (see nr. 4) that there still is unresolved pain, fear or beliefs which cause certain situations or people to trigger us. We see it, but instead of judging ourselves harshly, there is a loving awareness that this can still be healed. Naturally, taking responsibility for our behavior (and asking others for forgiveness) is crucial.

    2. Forgiving others means that we understand that others also react from their unprocessed pain and unconscious patterns. In other words, it has nothing to do with us. Therefore it is something that belongs to the other person, but we have taken it on. By forgiving others, we step out of the victim consciousness and leave the negative behavior where it belongs, namely with the other person. Forgiveness is therefore letting go of the harsh judgment we have of ourselves and others.

  7. Learning and growing. Every experience is an opportunity for us to learn and grow. If we can see what happens in our lives as an opportunity for self-reflection and growth, then we can use every situation to stand in our power and create an outcome that serves the highest good of all beings. Letting go means a shift from victim consciousness to empowerment.

  8. Trust and surrender. Cultivating trust is an important spiritual part of letting go. We often worry about the future or we notice that we desperately want to control someone or something (in other words, we think that someone should be or act a certain way or that a situation can only be resolved in one particular way). Trusting and letting go actually go hand in hand. When we let go, we trust that this particular situation will unfold for the highest good of all beings. When we can trust that things unfold according to a higher plan, we can let go of our tight grip and control and surrender to a higher consciousness.

  9. Gratitude. We can be grateful when we reflect on the richness and fullness of our lives and the beautiful moments we experience with our partner, children, friends and family. We can also look back on our lives and be grateful for our experiences, which allowed us to learn from them and which made us wiser and better people. Gratitude has a high vibration. So when we focus on the positive - when we let go of negativity - gratitude is a vibration that arises naturally. Gratitude is the end result and the ultimate gift we receive when we let go.

Letting go is therefore not something you simply decide (with your head), nor is it something you can do on sheer willpower. Letting go is also not ignoring a situation or problem as if it no longer exist. Letting go isn't actually an active process, It is part of an ongoing, deep and introspective process of discovery into our deepest triggers, beliefs and identifications. In other words, if we identify, judge, compare and label, it means that there is still something in us that gets triggered and needs to be healed and forgiven. The moment it is healed, there no longer is a resonance (hook) with the situation or the person and the energy simply dissolves.

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