7 Steps To Letting Go Of Things That No Longer Serve Us

Having read this month’s article – Let it go and move on – in the recent edition of Psychologies magazine written by Anita Chaudhuri, in which I offered a few thoughts around the subject on how to let it go, the subject has been floating around my head...Why don't we let things go?

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Having read this month’s article – Let it go and move on – in the recent edition of Psychologies magazine written by Anita Chaudhuri, in which I offered a few thoughts around the subject on how to let it go, the subject has been floating around my head, so I thought I’d expand on certain aspects and share those thoughts with you. 

The question that’s kept appearing in my head when I’ve had moments to myself have been ‘why don’t we just let go of things, what is it that keeps us rooted? And surely if we understand this a little better when we decide we’d like to let go of something then it will be easier for us to do so. 

This got me thinking about something quite simple, I’ve had 2 dresses in the wardrobe for years that I know probably won’t fit me anymore but they are still taking up space so why don’t I take them to the charity shop? Surprise surprise yes they don’t fit me anymore, they belong to a different time, pre menopausal  and pre hysterectomy, when I was a different shape, so although I knew they wouldn’t fit I had to just try again to make sure. What was it that I was hoping for with these dresses? What came from this exploration was a desire to feel like I felt when I used to wear them, I felt good, confident and if I’m honest sexy and attractive. Was this the thing that I was hoping for?  To feel these things again to connect back to a time before my body shape changed and I was also in my mid 40’s rather than my early 50’s? Yes it was, it was the feeling that connected to when I wore the dresses. I don’t want to let go of those I want to reconnect with them, so it’s not surprising that the dresses hang in the wardrobe and I won’t let go of them. 

Emotions are what stimulate our behaviour it’s not our thoughts, often when working with others as a coach I explore the feelings attached to something that they are wanting to change or let go of, as when we’ve explored their thoughts they understand logically why they want to move on but still aren’t able to do it. Feelings are what hold us on to something, it may be that we feel wronged and holding on to the fact that we are right and justifying what we are right about reassures, or we feel hurt by another’s actions and we can’t forgive them for this.  These thoughts hold us in the present state and nothing changes, we spend time going over it again and again getting upset or angry as well as cementing the fact that we were right to do this thing and they were wrong. 

I was looking out of the window at the trees as they turn to their autumnal colours, they don’t hold on to things they no longer want or need, they let go every year of what no longer serves them. What might we be able to do that takes this lesson from nature?  

Natures approach to letting go…

Step 1 – notice what it is that you are holding on to that no longer serves you, that is preventing you from feeling happy and enjoying the life you have. This could be things like my dresses, it could be thoughts about others, it could be relationships that are holding you back, it could be thoughts about yourself that are getting in the way of what you really want. 

Step 2 – what are the feelings you have about this? Explore the negative feelings, more importantly what are the powerful feelings that are keeping you attached to your current state, that you aren’t wanting to give up.

Step 3 – acknowledge that its ok to feel these things and sit with those feelings for a while

Step 4 – explore what feelings you want to feel in the future that are supportive and helpful to you, name them 

Step 5 – let go of those feeling and or the physical thing, that are holding you back

Step 6 – explore new ways that you can feel the feeling that you want in the future 

Step 7 – take action 

So if I go back to the feelings I have that were attached to the dresses that  I would like to feel again, confident and attractive, what makes me feel like this now? Or what can I do that will add more of this into my life? For me I feel great when I exercise, I know I won’t look like I did previously, but the feeling is what I really strive for, also I enjoy looking good making an effort with my appearance. So, it’s off to the gym, take the dresses to the charity shop it’s time to let them go and may be find a new outfit that gives me those feelings now, well I’ve just generated space in the wardrobe!

Enjoy shedding those leaves and letting go of what no longer nourishes you, like to trees getting ready for new growth in spring. 

For more on this subject read the article I referred to in the November edition of Psychologies Magazine. 

Julie Hickton

Managing Director , Natures Coaching Ltd

With over 25 years working with people and organisations as an executive coach, HR Director and mum, I have an excellent understanding of people and what they need to enable them to reach their full potential and have high levels of psychological wellbeing. We all have the ability to develop and grow, coaching provides an excellent opportunity to support individuals and teams achieve their aspirations and raise their levels of happiness. Interested in reading more about who I am and how I work......http://www.naturescoaching.co.uk/julie_hickton. Trained as an executive coach, therapeutic coach, team coach, thinking partner. Expertise and trained in; positive psychology, emotional intelligence, compassion and self compassion, various psychometric tools, NLP and therapeutic coaching.


Go to the profile of Artemis Antoniou
almost 2 years ago

Firstly I wish to say thank you so much for such a wonderful article which really resonated with them. I am going through a separation alone at 58 and have had to really learn how to let go after having a burn out 13 years ago. Having to give up my career and ending up with many health issues. And then my marriage of 28 years also falling apart. I had to learn how much power letting go had in helping me to keep moving and not become stuck (and get better) in all that had happened to me and my life. Though the hardest thing I am finding considering how much work I have done and continue to in helping myself is, most days I feel the pain and heartache of where I am. Having to re-start and re-build my life again. I try to cope with what comes up and not become attached to anything (or anyone) that depletes my energy. Needing so much to just keep going. But I refuse to give up, knowing everyday that I am finally following my heart and am living for my happiness. It's been really hard and is hard but I am so happy to have me back! And for this, I am so very grateful. xo