Have you ever watched trapeze artists? They hold onto one bar, create momentum, and then just like that, they let go. In that moment the choice is made to either grab onto the next bar with both hands, or keep one hand holding on. If they choose to hold on, I assume one of two things would happen: either they would get stuck with one hand on each bar, stretched out, or just fall completely.
There comes a point in all of our lives where we need to let go. We need to let go of the past: the hurt, unmet expectations, loss, hopes, and dreams. It is a healthy way to move on. We cannot possibly continue to move forward in our own lives if we are constantly holding on to that bar from our past. Letting go is not giving up. Letting go is not quitting. Letting go does not mean you do not know what to do or how to do it. Letting go does not imply that you are unstable or inconsistent. Letting go simply means that you are aware that in order to experience anything new, better, or different you have to first let go.
The truth is that for every beginning there is an ending. Sometimes it hurts. Often things end before we are actually ready to let them go, but holding on to an idea is actually mentally and emotionally more difficult than the reality of just letting it go.
When people hold on, they let fear win: fear of hurt, fear of loss, fear of rejection, and fear of pain. They allow the struggle to prevent them from pursuing any opportunity for change. When you choose to let go, you choose to take control of your own thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and outcomes. Sometimes we need to make the choice to let go of toxic people in our lives in order to remove ourselves from the negativity of others. It will not be easy and it will take time to build the momentum needed to do this. But, it is possible. You may need to let go of a loved one, a spouse, a sibling, a parent, or a child in order to care for your own well being.
Letting go of a person you love does not mean you’re giving up on them. Learning to let go is the first step toward self-care. It is acknowledging the hurt that person has caused you and making an active choice to not let him/her hurt you anymore. It is setting boundaries and expectations for the relationship and recognizing that you are the only person who can give approval of the way you live your life.
I would never suggest, tell, or ask any parent to give up on a child. I would, however, encourage the parent to let go of the negative destructive behaviors of the child, let go of the unmet expectations, hopes, and dreams developed for the child and separate yourself both physically and emotionally. Let go of what you cannot change and embrace what you can. Letting go of a person you love is not easy. The hurt it causes is unmeasurable, but it is important to recognize that you cannot change anyone but yourself. Letting go of a child, or a loved family member does not imply that you would ever stop loving them. Letting go is done out of love. It is communicating that you love the person so much that you fear for them, or for you. Letting go is separating the behaviors of the person from the actual loved individual. It’s that common saying “I will always love you, but I do not like your behavior/choices right now.”
Maybe you have to let go of unresolved grief, a past experience, an unpleasant job, or a relationship. Let go of the control, let go of the guilt, and let go of the unpleasant emotions. You are not quitting. You are not giving up. You are choosing to no longer enable the pain, hurt, and unwanted behaviors. You’re choosing to no longer live in those moments. When you choose to let go of what was, you choose to grab on to what can be.
Rachel Velishek is a licensed professional clinical counselor with Fisher-Titus Behavioral Health, Fisher-Titus Medical Park 2, Suite C, 282 Benedict Ave., Norwalk. Her office can be reached at 419-668-0311. For more information on Fisher-Titus Behavioral Health, visit fishertitus.org/behavioral-health.