By Nathan, on February 17th, 2012
It is often difficult to know when to hold on and when to let go. Millions of pop songs out there speak on holding on and letting go of people, places, emotions, thoughts, things. But when are you to do which?
This could easily be one of the most misunderstood life skills out there. It seems like this should be intuitive, but emotions cloud the issue. Logic does too. It is an instinctual response to hold on to people, things, beliefs, perceptions that have served you well in the past, but as we grow these things need to be evaluated. The general rule of thumb for non-relationships (which I will cover later) is:
If it no longer serves you, let it go. If it still helps you, keep it.
We tend to hold on to some perceptions and beliefs long after their usefulness has ended. Our survival needs change with new circumstances. Instincts reflect where you’ve been, so your thoughts need to focus on where you are going. For example, while you were in high school, you might have developed distrust in jocks because one bullied while you were there. Well, now your neighbor has asked if you would like to play some one on one basketball down at the junior high down the street, and your innate distrust of jocks makes you slam the door in his face. That limiting belief has led to a prejudice and would serve you better if you let it go. That belief does not serve you. But what if you were mugged at night in Central Park? Would it be a limiting practice to avoid walking through Central Park late at night? Probably, but it is a prudent practice that still serves you very well. It should probably be kept.
But what about relationships? This can get tricky, because there are many emotions and people involved. Love and the negating of love is painful, and necessarily so, because we are social animals. We require others of our species to survive. But not all relationships are healthy for both people concerned. Some are a little ill and some of those can be continued and even become healthy again. But others are rotten, and this is perceived most often by one, but not the other in the relationship. Those relationships need to be let go of, even if it is painful, so that you (and hopefully the other person) can be free to grow and find contentment and happiness in a healthier relationship. I do not endorse divorce over every little stumble in a marriage, but I do if the marriage is poisonous to its participants.
My thoughts here are: If you have to justify being with that person to yourself and others fairly often than you should let go of that relationship. If you find yourself unsure that you love that person anymore and this uncertainty is consistent, then you should let go of that relationship. If the other person is unhappy being in the relationship, then you should probably respect that and find someone who can be with you and who you can be with. And you are happy with that person through bad and good times and the love can still be fulfilling even if it tarnished and you are angry with each other. Hold on to that one. Hold on to fulfilling relationships that grow with the participants.
You should take stock at least a couple times a year of old beliefs and objects you have accumulated. Take stock daily of how you feel and let your emotions guide you for your relationships, but don’t let them trick you into holding onto a relationship, thought or object that is no longer working for you.