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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about letting go.
About how we know if or when it’s time to walk away, to move on.
About the sadness and uncertainty and excitement that comes with endings.
“Letting go” is certainly not a new topic on Elephant. We’ve published articles about how letting go sucks. About how fantastic it can be to let go. About rituals for letting go. About the Buddhist way of letting go.
But all the articles in the world don’t make the decision to let go any easier.
Walking away from a person, place, or experience that we’ve grown to love, that has become a part of our routine, that has brought us joy and pain and purpose (and all the other complex emotions that come with true connection) is hard—even when we know it’s the right choice. Because letting go means leaving something behind. It means saying goodbye. It means the end.
At least, that’s how I used to see it.
I recently asked our readers how they know when it’s time to let go and move on. We received tons of mindful responses, some of which I’ll post below, but there was one response that is helping me reframe the phrase.
This explanation of letting go is one I plan on holding on to:
“Letting go could mean taking a pause or becoming more intentional about what isn’t working…it doesn’t always have to mean the end.”
Yes, there can be sadness in letting go. But there is also space.
Space to redefine.
Space to readjust.
Space to take a breath.
Space to make room for something new and different (and maybe better) without the finality that letting go used to hold for me.
And when we’re faced with a tough choice, space is often what our head and heart need most.
Here are a few other reader responses that spoke to me:
“When your intuition becomes stronger than your reason. People would give you a lot of reasons why you should stay or hold on but deep down inside you, you know it’s time to let go and move on.” ~ Nicole
“When they cause you more pain than peace.” ~ Sabrina
“When they are committed to misunderstanding me.” ~ Lisa
“From people…too much negativity. From places…too many bad memories. From experiences…let’s not repeat that.” ~ Kay
“When your boundaries are disrespected and your experiences are often not aligning with your personal values.” ~ Melana
“I believe the need to go shows up as constant anxiety and unhappiness and overpowers the need to stay. Our emotions never lie and if we don’t acknowledge them they get bigger.” ~ Catherine
“When you feel exhausted afterwards (and not in a good way).” ~ Shelby