I think it’d be highly beneficial if we made the theme of each new day “letting go.”
The Buddha said that attachment is the root of all suffering. I’ve struggled with this idea on many levels. I don’t necessarily believe that attachment lies behind the suffering wrought by war, famine, and disease, and although an argument could be made that it is, I personally feel that would be an insensitive case to make.
Where I agree, however, is when it comes to the prevalence of emotional suffering among the relatively well-off (in comparison to most of the world) of Western society.
Many of us live in homes practically buried in clutter. We are slaves to our junk. We agonize over toxic relationships with friends, family, lovers, and employers and obsess over our interpersonal drama to an extent that it renders us unable to go out and make real and necessary societal changes.
What I’m saying is that no one can effectively fight for social justice, or help all of those people who are suffering from war, famine, and disease, because we’re too worried about cleaning, storing, and maintaining our material possessions, or we’re fretting because our ex is a narcissist, or the hottie we met at the farmer’s market last week who never texted back.
When you look at it this way, learning to let go becomes a serious moral imperative. We need to work on ourselves so that we can then be healthy and focused enough to advocate, protest, and problem-solve in an effort to create better, fairer, more compassionate, and more inclusive societal structures.
But how do we even begin learning to let go? So often, we read or are told that we “just need to let go,” but that’s kind of an abstract concept. If we don’t know how to let go, or what letting go can look like, we won’t be able to actually do it.
Here are some suggestions to help you begin on the road to detachment today.
>> Throw something away. Throw a lot of things away if you can. Take a load of old clothes, furniture, and toys to a charity donation center. Clean out a cabinet and bring non-perishables to a food pantry for people who truly need it.
>> Forgive someone. Let go of a grudge. Give someone the benefit of the doubt. Free yourself from the actions of another. They brought you a lesson, you learned it—now move on in peace.
>> Change your mind. You have permission. Changing one’s mind is a sign of growth. When we have more information or experience, we often learn to see other perspectives and possibilities. Changing your mind is letting go of old ideas about the world that no longer serve your purpose.
>> Let expectations fall away. Go into your day without a plan, without imagining what something is going to be like, or what it should be like, and just let whatever happens happen. Go with that, and work on not anticipating the next step, forecasting the future, or being disappointed when things don’t turn out the way we believe they should.
>> Unfriend. Social media creates its own brand of toxic clutter, and I believe this negatively affects our mental health. Let’s unfollow our exes—you know, the ones we obsess about, looking at their photos, and torturing ourselves with comparisons to their new partner. It’s also okay to remove unpleasant people from our feeds. We don’t need to see their political rants, or vague, attention-seeking posts.
>> Release yourself from the need for validation. It’s so hard, but try it for an hour, then a few hours, then a day. You don’t need the approval, “likes,” attention, admiration, texts, comments, or any other reaction from any other human being in order to feel good about yourself. Practice telling yourself that whatever someone else says (or does not say) about you is of no consequence to how you feel.
>> Renew your self-image. We change every day. I’m not the person I was last year or even last Sunday. Each day, I wake up a new version of myself, ready to create a different reality. Everyone does, but most of us don’t realize this, and we cling to old versions of ourselves and past ways of defining our identities that, more than likely, no longer apply. Let your former selves vaporize. You are only the you that exists in this moment. You can be whoever you wish.
Letting go is freeing and empowering. Begin anew and unburdened today. Most of us live our lives as if we are clinging to the edge of a cliff. We hold on so tightly that our hands ache and our fingers bleed. We convince ourselves that if we let go, we’ll tumble to our death. What if when we finally let go of our attachments, we become so light that we simply float away, finally realizing that the real pain was caused by the grasping?
“Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.” ~ Herman Hesse
Author: Victoria Fedden
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Danielle Beutell
Social Editor: Yoli Ramazzina