If you ever asked me for advice and I told you to just let it go, I’m sorry.
I’m deeply sorry if I told you to just forget about it.
And please don’t let go. I’m not supposed to let go. You’re not supposed to let go. No one’s supposed to let go.
But I had no idea in the past that we, humans, haven’t been programmed to let anything go. In fact, if you ever met me in my mid-20s, you’d know that I held these two words within me like a mother holding her own baby.
I didn’t know that moving on didn’t mean “not thinking about it.” I didn’t know that forgetfulness is nothing but a Band-Aid that temporarily hides the wound.
I talked about it, wrote about it, preached about it, and I tried to practice it. I don’t blame myself, though. After coming back from India and after finishing my Buddhism courses, I was influenced by the “positivity” trend that was taking place in the world.
“Let go” and “be positive” work perfectly together like sugar and water. Put one on top of the other and you’ve got yourself a beautifully blended liquid. That said, like everyone else who was at the beginning of their spiritual journey, I incorporated this belief into my daily life.
Angry with someone? I let it go.
Hurt by someone? I let it go.
Not-as-I-expected date? I let it go.
Can’t make a sound choice? I let it go.
Lost something/someone valuable? I let it go.
Not sure how to deal with a painful situation? I let it go.
And it goes on and on and on. If, like me, these two words have been your solution to all your life’s problems, I don’t blame you either. And the honest, straightforward reason is because the idea of letting go is so damn alluring. Like the aurora borealis, we find it impossible to take our eyes off it.
It’s the magic wand we have always wished to have. Whether it’s a breakup, the death of a loved one, or the loss of a job, we confidently prescribe letting go as a remedy.
After trying to practice “the art of letting go” for more than 10 years already, I have one thing to tell you:
I did let go—for a while—until everything I have ever tried to escape came back stronger than ever.
It’s been an endless loop in every area of my life: I let it go, it goes away, it returns, I let it go again, it goes away again, it returns again.
And well, if I’m completely honest, I’ve realized there’s nothing, nothing, spiritual about letting go. It’s only a fancy term we’ve been using so we wouldn’t have to deal with our sh*t.
If I ever told you that letting go is the best thing you could ever do, I’m sorry.
If we all could sit for a minute and go deep within, we’d know (and might not even confess it to anyone) that letting go is impossible and is the worst thing, indeed, we could ever do. It diminishes our ability to fix, to repair, to create. We, humans, are much better and much more worthy than just letting things go. We have the power to change and adapt; we don’t have the power to simply forget.
Because the truth is when no one’s around, when we’re alone in our room, when we’re driving, when we’re taking a walk, when we zone out, when we look at an old photo album, when we’re watching a movie, when we’re doing hundreds of other things, memories erupt like a volcano, taking away our present moment and all it encompasses.
But we don’t like that. We don’t like the past. We don’t want the past. We want our pain to go away, to vanish, to never knock on our door ever again. Equally, we don’t want a difficult present. We stay away from challenging relationships, tasks, jobs, people, situations. We want easy, happy, solvable.
Eventually, the pain will knock again, and the present moment, as hard as it is, can—and will—show up disguised as a different event. We can never run away from suffering or force it to leave. We can only let it be, and we can never run away from the now because it will keep haunting us until we learn the lesson.
Whatever you’re struggling with today, don’t let it go. Let it be. Don’t minimize your pain, your choice, your situation. Don’t think you could brush it under the rug and pretend as if this or that never happened.
Whatever you’re struggling with today, befriend it. It might hurt, yes. It might bother you, yes. It might plan to stay for longer than you have expected, yes. But letting it go doesn’t solve it. Letting go doesn’t solve grief, indecisiveness, or forgetfulness.
If you’re going through a difficult relationship or marriage, don’t just let it go; sit together, talk, address difficult issues. If you’re struggling with a difficult friend, acquaintance, coworker, or family member, don’t just let it go; open your arms and heart, be kind, and see how you can help them out. If you’re making a difficult choice, don’t let it go; give yourself time. If you’re struggling to get over someone, don’t let it go; accept to live with what is.
Maybe we are not meant to stop grieving or to run away. We are meant to learn how to not let pain, hurt, or loss control us. We are meant to step in instead of out. We have the power to feel it all and be okay simultaneously, to be in difficult situations and leave stronger. Now this…is spiritual.
Like the Buddha taught, acknowledge that we can’t run away from life’s suffering, but do know that we can find ways to mentally and emotionally cope with it.