How Do We Let Go?

The Power to Let go

By Mary Cook, M.A., R.A.S.


Even when we know something’s harming us and it will only get worse, it can still be a struggle to give it up.  What is the process of letting go and why are certain things so hard to give up?  Believing that we need a person, place or thing in order to survive, tolerate ourselves or our lives, or in order to be happy or have meaning can create dependency.  Sometimes these needs begin when we are at our most vulnerable period.

Take the example of a boy who suffers repeated physical abuse from an early age and as a teenager discovers heroin.  Not only does it magically remove all pain, but he feels transformed to a state of bliss, comfort and complete fulfillment.  In a family that’s unable to bond or show affection or interest, a child is able to adopt a pet dog.  The dog allows her to feel more love than she’d ever dreamed of.  Consider a boy who’s been a social outcast all his life, then begins a career as a drug dealer.  Suddenly he has a surge of power, worth and popularity.  The youngest sibling in a family of bullies who is teased for being a baby, feels adult and mature when smoking cigarettes.  A girl who feels unloved at home and a failure at school discovers that boys want to be with her when she offers them sex.

Like these examples, our attachment to something can start as a protection from pain that we don’t know how to manage on our own.  We may not realize we’re dependent until threatened with the loss of our attachment.  Then we may not want to get out of bed, we may have panic attacks, cry uncontrollably, become aggressive or willing to go against our values and morals to hold on to what we feel we need.


originally published here

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