Why is it so hard to let go

Letting go is really… really hard. A person, an object, a job or a situation – letting go seems impossible. There is comfort and security in the known elements and fear of the unknown. Taking a leap without a safety blanket is challenging at best. But what if you knew that it was a trick that the mind was playing? And does knowing that it is a trick, help you cope any better. The secret as we shall see is in the mind but much of it determined by unconscious choice.

Clean start

We are born into this world with certain genes and research shows that children have some awareness when they are first born. For example they have the ability to see the outline of faces even when they are a few months old. That is really all that you are born with. No emotional attachments, no security… nothing!

But we learn.

Our two primary instincts, survival and reproduction drive much of our behaviour. Including the need for social contact! This in turn delivers the dependencies we create. It starts with a need to be fed and the need to connect with the carer – the parent! Slowly with time and learning, we develop other emotional and physical dependencies.

The role your brain plays

To understand how the brain and the mind work with these dependencies, you will have to understand how they operate.

The brain is synonymous with sheer processing power. Analysing and thinking, it is often acts as a logical base for your conscious mind. The mind on the other hand is a combination of your will and your emotions. But all that appears is not gold. The brain does not process everything! It lacks the power. So it does the next best thing. It uses memory banks to fill in the images and sounds from past experiences. The result is part truth and part illusion (percentages vary).

Tiny Man

Creative Commons License photo credit: Zeshiku

The mind is also quick to apply emotions attached to those images and sounds. The stage is set for reliving previous experiences.


Want a bit of proof? Explore the world of optical illusions.

What do you see in the image on the left? Is the man really the size he is in camparison to the woman or is the woman simply standing a lot closer to the camera? Even if you know the truth, can you prevent your mind from completely blocking out the size deception?

In most cases, your brain cannot stop seeing the illusion even if you know it is an illusion. Does that sound strange to you? Now consider this. What if you don’t even know it is an illusion. What then? Do you take it for the truth? You see it therefore it must be. Or do you step outside the box to understand what you see. Find out if your observation is real.

Perfection of technique

Fear is the primary reason for not letting go. It disguises itself as compassion, pity, dependency, desire, greed and even love. But underneath it all, it is fear. Over the years, the mind and the brain work together to perfect their technique and the hold of fear grows stronger. Like quicksand, you sink deeper and deeper. Not realising that it is not the sand (i.e. not the situation) but the weight of your body (i.e. your baggage in this case) that is pulling you in. Letting go now requires giving the brain and the mind a jump start because their hold is strong and you are weak. You have believed the illusion they have created. And have forgotten that you were born with no dependencies and that you shall die with none. All your dependencies are a result of the oldest mind game. A game only the ego knows how to play with you. Deception!

Breaking free

There is always a choice. It is easy to understand the illusion you have been fed but understanding it is not enough to trigger change. It is not enough if you want to let go and move on. It needs an active involvement from you. You need to take charge and break this house of glass. In two simple steps you can change your life. The steps may be simple but try taking the first one and you realise the amount of courage you will need if you want to do this seriously.

Step1 – Become aware.

Step2 – Take ownership.

The very first step is to become aware of the illusion. Acknowledge it, understand it and accept it. To change something, it has to exist first. So if you live in denial then how will you effect change. Don’t look for reasons or justifications but just accept that there is an illusion that you have been living with. And it needs to be shattered.

The next step is to take ownership. Through active or passive participation, you are responsible for where you are in your life. You are the problem and you are the solution. It is not until you own the problem that you can own the solution. Take responsibility for where you are and then take responsibility for getting you out of here. As long as you are in the process of blaming someone, anyone or anything, even God, you are stuck. The moment you decide to take charge, you are free.

The two steps don’t sound so easy anymore – right? Becoming aware of something is a major step. It is an acknowledgement of a state of being and a need for change. Taking ownership is just as difficult because the ego will find someone or something to blame and will want to lead you away. In both cases, your will power will be tested. Your ego will fight and and try to justify things somehow. Finding an excuse and letting fear rule wil be the easy option. Change on the other hand will require courage.

If only…

The secret to breaking the illusion and letting go lies in the mind and the will. As long as the words “if only” are in your vocabulary, your ego will find a way to stop you from moving on. To move on you have to want to be free. Feel that freedom and breathe it. See it in your mind and develop the willpower to get there. Your body will follow.

Moving on requires courage and delivers change, new horizons and a breath of fresh air. Sometimes you stumble as you change direction. Treat it like a stumble. Change direction perhaps but don’t stop. Fear lurks in the shadows as you move forward waiting for the moment when you are weak before taking hold. Fear can be overpowered by courage but it is never defeated and it never dies. Courage on the other hand can be defeated and can die. So beware!

Either the mind is in control or you are. Which will it be?

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