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"Just let it go" is really bad advice.

First thing is first; this short article is about how to let go of the past and also, the one thing NOT to do, which is attempt to just "let it go". 

The phrase "let it go" implies that you somehow, are purposefully holding on to something and it is a fault of yours, a weakness even. If someone tells you to "just let it go" you might feel shame, guilt or somehow like you are a fractured being. It is often well-meaning but telling someone to let go is the same as telling them to move on or get over it.

Telling someone to "just let it go" is minimizing and insensitive. 

In truth, when we are holding on to something, it is a coping strategy to understand the trauma, stress or betrayal. Coping strategies don't just vanish into thin air. We have to release the need to hold on, not just release the strategy; so the reason we've held on is sometimes more important than why we are holding on.

One important aspect in holding on, is to understand that you should not just "let it go", believe it or not. It is imperative that you take the time to accept the past, accept your need to hold on was there as a coping strategy and understand how not only the past events but the coping strategy affected you.

Denial of the past, and pretending it did not happen in an effort to "let it go" can actually cause repeated patterns in your life. We've all seen people who continue to date the same type of person, who will inevitably hurt them in some way, but insist that each of these people are "totally opposite" of the previous partner. The reality is, is that they take other characteristics that might be different but the core issue, the one that they ultimately are trying to deny, is there.


Now that we've cleared up why we can't just let go, let's look at three ways to release the past in a healthy and true to self way.

Three surprising ways to release the past

1. Focus on not releasing it. Focus on accepting that it is a part of you. By trying to shake the past we might inadvertently shake part of ourselves. An example of this is that someone falls in love, get's hurt then says that they will never trust again. Instead of shaking just that relationship, they lost part of themselves that trusts, as a coping strategy. 

2. Focus on being peaceful rather than strong. Often in pain we focus on strength rather than finding peace. Being strong is actually a byproduct of feeling peace; it means you've overcome and are accepting. Being strong without peace might work or, it might make you a strong person riddled with anxiety, depression or disharmony. Sometimes strong is a coping strategy that doesn't serve you. 

3. Get in touch with your true self. It is easy to get bogged down by coping strategies as days go by, if we have not worked on accepting the past; when that happens we might lose a sense of who our true self is. If we continue to explore who we are, to revisit who we were as children and who we might want to be, and work toward that; we focus on our true selves. The past shapes us; good or bad. If we deny the past, we deny what we might have learned, the coping strategies that are badges of life learning and the depth to overcome. 

The key to releasing the past is to make peace with it; when you do, it no longer controls you. When you are not controlled by the past you are in a space of freedom in the present moment.

If you'd like to release the past and release the suffering you feel, sign up to my weekly Zen and get a free course, "Happy Again", just fill out your information below, and click "Weekly Free Zen".

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