September 15, 2017

It’s Okay to Let them Go—but Not Forget.

When we let go of someone, we expect to entirely eradicate their memory from our minds.

Every time we remember them, we give ourselves a hard time. We wonder why they cross our minds from time to time and stop ourselves from mentally reviving their presence. Sometimes, we might even remember a person from way back in our past.

But—if we let them go, we must forget them, right?

Well, not necessarily. If we look closely at the meaning of letting go, we’ll realize that it’s not linked to the notion of forgetting. To let go of someone means to stop holding on to them. It goes deeper than just releasing them physically. It’s more of an internal type of work—we become at peace with the outcome of our relationship with that person.

When we let go of someone, we release the emotional attachment we have to them. They no longer affect us or control our emotions in any way. Letting go is another term for personal liberation.

In spite of our personal liberation from these people, we can’t stop the mind from connecting to our memories. A smell, a sight, or a song might revive memories from our subconscious mind of which we’re not aware.

That said, it’s quite common for a mind to recall a memory that’s linked to a person we’ve let go.

I used to panic whenever a memory of a person I’d let go hadn’t entirely dissipated. I thought there was something wrong with my technique of letting go.

Then, I realized that not thoroughly forgetting someone is okay and shouldn’t be terrifying. We can turn the memory into something beautiful, instead of fighting it.

I’ve taught myself to simply observe memories (good and bad) whenever they independently arise in my head. Without judging them, I watch them like a movie. I enjoy their presence and observe them as they go back into nothingness. Then, I wish the person well on their journey and gently process the memory until it dissipates on its own.

We are a bundle of experiences. And though the past is no longer present, its experiences are what made us who we are today. Reconnecting to that experience for a few seconds is okay. If it’s a bad memory, know that the memory does not define you. It’s only an inevitable mental record. Our brains automatically record things, people, and situations. There’s abundant information stored in our brains that we can’t keep at bay.

Don’t identify yourself with the information; know that it’s only passing. Also, we must understand and acknowledge that we did let go of the person associated with the memory, and we shouldn’t judge our own actions.

Remembering someone from the past tests the authenticity of our “letting go.” Grasping to the memory as it arises is unfavorable—but so is fighting it. Let it be, and embrace its momentary presence.

Letting go is strength in itself. But, remembering the person we let go of every once in a while—and not fighting it—is true power. When we accept that the relationship with that person has ended, we can remember them in a healthier way. Then, the memory isn’t a means to an end—it doesn’t develop into expectations or grief. It just is. We let it be without analyzing it or wondering why it took place.

Memories aren’t problematic by nature—how we deal with them can be, though. Transform them into magnificence and understand that they don’t define you. They’re only a part of your brain’s functions.



How to Know When to Hold on & When to Let Go.

What we must do before Letting Go, according to Buddha.


Author: Elyane Youssef
Image: Deviant ArtFlickr/Zak Cannon

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Lieselle Davidson
Social editor: Danielle Beutell

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