On the power of letting go

When you learn to let go your hands will open to what wants you instead of grasping at what’s struggling to get away.

About 6 months ago I had someone leave my life, rather abruptly and without explanation. I went from confused, to hurt, to angry. I didn’t know what to do. I like clarity and closure on most things, especially relationships.

When I was a young adult, my mother gave me a book by Shakti Gawain called “Creative Visualization” which laid out some very simple rituals for visualizing what you wanted in your life. Through the years, I have used these techniques to deal with certain challenges or even dreams about how I’d like to see my life. It’s not magic or voodoo. It’s simply intention.

One other way my mother taught me to deal with issues I was having with important people in my life was to write letters. Sometimes the letters were sent. Most times they were not. Sometimes the letters were even ripped up or burnt. The intention of writing the letters was not to gain clarity or closure but to let go. Often the people we so want to interact with us don’t want to or won’t interact the way we want them to. However, the energy of the unresolved issue has to go somewhere. If it isn’t dealt with it stays inside us, often causing sadness, confusion, anger and resentment. In some cases it causes disease ( think about that word for a minute: Disease/Dis-ease). I, for one, do not want to keep that negative energy inside my body, heart or mind.

Back to my friend: Because my attempts for reparation were ignored, I wrote my friend a letter and told him that I really wasn’t sure why he’d ended our friendship so abruptly. I told him that I was so sorry if I’d hurt him, and that I was searching to find out what I had done to him that was so irreversible. I couldn’t think of a darned thing (and I am very hard and critical of myself).

I went over a years worth of interaction with him and felt absolutely lost in what had happened. I explained all of this to him and ended the note by saying that whatever the reason was, I respected his wishes not to interact with me and I wished him all the best. I addressed the envelope, put a stamp on it and mailed it. Then I let go. I let go of expectation that he would respond. I let go of having resolution. I let go of the need for clarity. I let go of the need for closure.

And by letting go, I actually got closure.

This morning, I woke up to a text from my friend. He apologized to me for being such a jerk and explained why he had eliminated me from his life. I had already suspected the reason (which is personal and outside both of our control) but hearing it from him gave me peace. The interesting thing is that when I saw the name on the text message, I actually had to scan my brain to remember who this person was. It’s not that I had forgotten him, because I thought of him rather often, but I had forgotten that we had an issue at all.

That is the power of letting go.

I encourage each and every one of you to look at where you are holding on tightly to something that isn’t helping you and just.let.go.

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15 Responses to “On the power of letting go”
  1. Wow Willa, inspiring article~ Often we bottled up our issues and expecting/hoping something will happen and the problem can be settled by itself. But in most cases, the issues remain unsolved even years gone by. And needless to say, negative emotions piled up. Your way of writing it out and letting go may not certainly solve the problem, but it’s a great way to free ourselves from all the miserable…’de-stress’ :)

    • Thank you Noel. “Letting go”, no matter how we do it is important so that we can keep moving forward.

      I appreciate you reading and commenting.

      :)

  2. Wow. I thought I was the only one who wrote those letters. Thank you for making me feel more normal. I haven’t sent one for about 15 years. I am glad you were able to send yours and that you received a response. That is just icing because it really IS the act of writing it down that helps us let go.
    Thank you for writing this.

    • No matter how we deal with these issues, we are ALL normal. But, I am glad that others know about this “ceremony”…I believe it’s a very loving thing to do for yourself.
      Thank you for reading it.

  3. tk

    goodness, this is on target and lends confirmation (from the author and commentors) to this as a strategy for letting go. i, too, have had this same experience of late and it was affirming to be able to read this post. i can’t say it doesn’t still sting, because it certainly does, but i can move on from the thoughts by letting go of them and replacing them with looking forward thoughts. another strategy i employ when there’s a deficit in life, like someone leaving abruptly and without explanation, is to think of all the persons i do have in my life and how much each one means to me. i know i am not alone or unwanted. and i look forward to all the new persons that will enter my life and enrich me.

    • I totally relate. Although it still “stung” even after sending the letter, I just had to let go, or drive myself crazy.

      I think that when someone leaves your life, it opens up an opportunity to bring those new persons you talked about into your life.

  4. One of the most powerful lessons I think you can ever learn. Thanks for sharing!

  5. This is such a thoughtful and well written piece. I often struggle with letting go of relationships in a way that honors my feelings while also respecting the boundaries/wishes of the other person. Your words really spoke to me, providing comfort as well as practical advice on how to gain close for ourselves. By letting go of the past in a respectful manner, we can move forward in our full power. And, that’s powerful. Again, thanks!

  6. Willa,

    Thanks for sharing this! I’ve been through a similar situation some time back when an ex abruptly broke up with me and I completely identify the need for closure but not really getting it properly. And my experience was also that the healing began not when the situation changed but when my attitude and mentality changed and I just let go of the need to have a rational explanation. I still don’t have all the answers but it’s no longer bugging me or dictating my ability to move on. x

  7. Great article. We have always said.. “Take Control By Letting Go!”

    Bernie

  8. Sugarwilla,

    My fav line –> “I let go of the need for closure.”

    I appreciate how you sent your friend a letter. You didn’t merely walk away and burn a bridge, you extended an opportunity to repair things if he felt the need.

    It is easier, if it could be called that, to let go of the need for closure when I know that I have done everything in my power to rectify the situation.

    It is also easier to let go when I know what I believe about something and can stand by my convictions — and if those convictions are what drives people away, that is their choice. There are some things (religious beliefs, political leanings mostly) I will not change, not even for friends. I don’t require that people believe exactly like I do to be their friend, and I’d hope that people would extend the same courtesy.

    It’s more common for people to write about frantically grasping for closure; this is a refreshing post.

    Thanks :)

    SJA

    • tk

      “It is easier, if it could be called that, to let go of the need for closure when I know that I have done everything in my power to rectify the situation.”

      this is exactly why i wrote my letter to my friend who abruptly and without explanation disappeared recently. unlike sugarwilla, i have received no response and that’s ok. one cannot be forced into like, love, any relationship. but i feel, having written a letter that was heartfelt and not one bit negative, the door of welcome was left open. if this is too naive or hopeful than that’s what it is. i prefer to think i left the unfinished relationship positively and i did it for myself, not my friend.

  9. PS

    This article could not have come to me at a better time, and I relate to it thoroughly. I have seen the dissolution of two relationships, but I eventually got round to realizing it was all for good. And for the one that was closer than the other – that was tough at first but liberating. Letting go is indeed the best form of closure.

  10. I found your note on letter-writing very insightful. I have always enjoyed letters — ever since I first read “Love in the time of cholera” and found correspondence between loved ones to be irreparably romantic!

    Thank you for this beautiful, beautiful post.

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