Why Sometimes You Have to Let Go to Move On

A woman who learned that sometimes you have to let go, standing in the forest with her eyes closed breathing in the fresh air.

Letting go is perhaps the most difficult step of moving on, but it’s also the most vital. Sometimes, it’s easier to hold on and try and make the best of a bad situation than it is to walk away and do what you know is right. But real growth often comes from finding the courage to do the difficult thing. Letting go is never easy (especially when you’re terrified of what comes next) but if you want to move on, you’re going to have to do it. 

If you hold on, you can’t move forward.
If we don’t let go, we can never truly move on; because we’ll be stuck in the past. Thinking about and holding onto negative experiences or people are toxic for us as humans.

If someone is causing you pain or sadness in your life, that will always be lingering until you make a conscious decision to let go of that person, and give yourself permission to move on. And remember—you have permission to move on. You do. So don’t feel guilty for wanting to.

You’re stopping yourself from giving someone amazing a chance.
If you’ve got half of your heart stuck in the past, or you’re staying in a relationship even though it’s making you miserable, all you’re doing is stifling your growth, and removing yourself from the possibility of meeting and loving someone else.

You’re not allowing yourself to meet someone who could bring an abundance of joy, love, and happiness into your life. This could be because on some level, you don’t believe you’re worthy of a love like this. And if that’s true, please know that you are. We all are.

Sometimes it hurts more to hold on.
If you’re currently struggling to let go, take some time to check in with yourself, and how you’re feeling. Maybe even make a list of what comes up for you. How do you really feel in your heart?

Sad, angry, frustrated, happy, free, trapped, miserable, loved, valued, or unappreciated?

Once you have your list, realize that this is what you’re holding onto. If most of what you wrote down was negative, or not how you want to feel, then you’re hurting yourself by holding on to this person and refusing to let go. If most of the things you write down are positive and how you’d like to feel, then you may be in a better place. But how do you think you could feel if you did let go?

Because you know this is what’s best for the both of you.
It takes mature, responsible people to realize and admit when a relationship isn’t working, and do the honorable thing of letting go of each other—even if there are still feelings of love there. Because deep down, you know this is what’s best for both of you in the long run.

You know you’re not meant for each other, because if you were, it wouldn’t be this hard. So you choose to let go, sand then you can both move on with your lives.

So once you’ve made the decision to let go, how do you go about it? Here are a few important things.

Cut all contact.
I wish I could tell you that it’s okay to stay in contact, but that’s only going to make you want to talk to them, reach out when you’re down, and go back to them when you feel lonely.

What you need to do is cut all ties. Delete their number, block them from social media, get rid of any photos you have of you together, and stop hanging out in places or with people where you think you might bump into them. 

Sit with your feelings.
Most of us run away from our feelings, and avoid them, because they make us uncomfortable. When you’re in the process of letting go of someone, it’s natural to be going through a rollercoaster of emotions. You might feel incredibly sad, lonely, angry, or broken-hearted; and that’s okay.

Allow yourself to face and feel your pain—stop running from it. This is all part of your healing, and how you’ll move on. In time, those feelings of discomfort and pain will soften.

Remember—this person probably won’t change.
Our mind likes to trick us into seeing what we want to see, and thinking what we want to believe—especially when it comes to relationships. The truth is, your mind is usually lying to you.

So when you’re reflecting back on past memories, you might convince yourself to give them one last chance, or believe them when they promise they’ll change (even though you’ve already given them plenty of chances to).

Chances are, things won’t be different, and they won’t work out. This is just your mind trying to stop you from experiencing pain again. The only way for us to heal is to not distract ourselves, and embrace our reality so that we can move on.

Forgive them, and yourself.
The final step in moving on is practicing forgiveness. There has probably been mistakes on both sides, and it might take time to heal from these past wounds and traumas. But holding on to grudges or resentment will only keep you trapped in the past, and hold you back from moving on with your life. This is why it’s so important to forgive people when they hurt us. We’re not really doing it for them, we’re doing it for ourselves.

You are not your pain. You are not your emotions. You are not what others say or think about you. You are not your past. Forgive them, and forgive yourself.

Once you let go, it will create space in your life for something better. But this can only happen if you choose it. Give yourself the reality check you need and be honest with yourself about how you feel. It may seem hard, even unbearable at first, but ultimately it will open you up to so many other possibilities and you may find that you can be so much happier and feel so much better than you ever thought. 

Shani Jay

Bestselling Author and Empowerment Coach

Shani is a bestselling author, empowerment coach for women, and self-love advocate. She is the author of Bloom, The Babe Bible, Glow Getter, and Light Up Your Life; and her writing has been featured on many internationally recognized platforms including The Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, and Teen Vogue.

​In 2016 Shani founded The Glow Getter Tribe – a self-love & kindness movement which helps young girls & women worldwide feel happy, confident and beautiful starting from the inside, out.

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