In all things human

Why is it so hard to let go?

Of habits, relationships (healthy or toxic), of expectations, of dreams? Even when we know we’re hurting ourselves by hanging on, what drives the compulsion to keep gripping?

What do we do when old behavioral patterns no longer serve our life?

First of all, don’t beat yourself up.

In the transition stage between awareness and change lies a really sucky phase of awareness without change.  It’s torturous.  “Why do I do this?”  “Why can’t I change this?”  We lament.  We tear out our hair.  And we still don’t change.  But now we’ve spiced up our situation by hating ourselves.  Stop adding fuel to the fire.  Rest assured, you created your habits for excellent reasons.  To cope, to deal with stress, to survive.  They have served you well.  But now the time has come to change.  So let go of the blaming and put that fabulous energy into changing your situation.

Cultivate tolerance for discomfort.

You can either be uncomfortable in your old habits, or uncomfortable in your new habits, so why not choose with awareness?  Once you start, it becomes easier every time. Remind yourself that following your old habits may bring short-term relief, but longer term suffering.  Find ways to take care of yourself during this time, whether it’s yoga, massage, tea, time with friends, or a trip somewhere that grounds you.  Cultivate your capacity to take pleasure in the little things, moment to moment.

Reach out to your community.

You are not alone.  You are wired like a human being, and we’re all programmed to create habits in order to become more efficient.  As your awareness increases, you may realize that some of your autopilot tendencies aren’t ideal for you.  Reach out to others who may be experiencing similar growing pains.  There is comfort in community.

In the spirit of radical change and letting go, I’m including some inspiration below from different sources, even Dr. Phil 🙂  The first is about the Hindu goddess Kali.  Put this girl in back pocket when you need to up your potency for radical transformation!

Here’s a blurb from Anita Revel’s Goddess Site:

Kali’s esoteric attributes are PASSION and physical and sexual energy. Be alert to those who undermine your self-confidence – Kali is here to hurl your life onto a new path that will ultimately prove to be more fulfilling than your current path.


  • My new life path reveals itself to me
  • I say goodbye to destructive influences
  • There are rainbows in every rainfall
  • I am awake to my life’s calling
  • I welcome Kali’s strength & recuperative powers
  • I trust the Universe to provide
  • It’s OK to release my juicy anger
  • I can say “no” to negative influences

ESSENCE: Goddessence KALI 100% pure essential oil blend

GEMSTONES: Ruby, garnet, bloodstone, tourmaline, smoky quartz (red stones)

kali210.jpg (12971 bytes)

Kali 100% pure essential oil blend for the
Base Chakra
Reclaim your independent spirit

If you are feeling “stuck in a rut”, use this Base Chakra blend to energise your intention. The blend of five 100% pure essential oils represents strength, unwavering willpower and insight. It helps you purge elements of destruction in your life and reclaim your independent spirit by directing your life onto a new path – your true path. Walk with confidence and know your place in the world.


According to ancient Hindu tradition, Kali is the mother of us all. Kali is often depicted as a bloodthirsty harbinger of destruction, but this is so that through death we can experience the wonder of rebirth. Hence, when our lives seem as though they are out of control, this is Kali telling us that we have not chosen the right path. Through Kali’s strength, we are forced out of complacency and fear to find the right path for ourselves.


Kali has unwavering judgement, strong willpower and penetrative insight. She also characterises how we feel about our attachments to people and possessions, and how we react when we are threatened with losing them. Don’t be afraid to shed – Kali offers you the strength to rid your life of excess baggage, to confront the forces that threaten you, to destroy the elements of destruction in your life. Once this is done, you can celebrate new life!


Kali is related to our root chakra, home of the kundalini energy. When our root chakra is in balance, we feel secure, alert, stable – our lives are full of active and positive energy. If you are not feeling like this, it is no wonder Kali is speaking to you today. Sit on the floor, close your eyes, and while nurturing a related gemstone, feel your spine grow and take root in the earth. Feel the strength of the earth energise your spine and your body. You are indestructable! You are strong! You can shake the weight from your shoulders and conquer the demon shadowing your life.

Go Warrior Woman!!

From the Buddha Dharma Education Association:

If we contemplate desires and listen to them, we are actually no longer attaching to them; we are just allowing them to be the way they are. Then we come to the realisation that the origin of suffering, desire, can be laid aside and let go of.

How do you let go of things? This means you leave them as they are; it does not mean you annihilate them or throw them away. It is more like setting down and letting them be. Through the practice of letting go we realise that there is the origin of suffering, which is the attachment to desire, and we realise that we should let go of these three kinds of desire. Then we realise that we have let go of these desires; there is no longer any attachment to them.

When you find yourself attached, remember that ‘letting go’ is not ‘getting rid of’ or ‘throwing away’. If I’m holding onto this clock and you say, ‘Let go of it!’, that doesn’t mean ‘throw it out’. I might think that I have to throw it away because I’m attached to it, but that would just be the desire to get rid of it. We tend to think that getting rid of the object is a way of getting rid of attachment. But if I can contemplate attachment, this grasping of the clock, I realise that there is no point in getting rid of it – it’s a good clock; it keeps good time and is not heavy to carry around. The clock is not the problem. The problem is grasping the clock. So what do I do? Let it go, lay it aside – put it down gently without any kind of aversion. Then I can pick it up again, see what time it is and lay it aside when necessary.

You can apply this insight into ‘letting go’ to the desire for sense pleasures. Maybe you want to have a lot of fun. How would you lay aside that desire without any aversion? Simply recognise the desire without judging it. You can contemplate wanting to get rid of it – because you feel guilty about having such a foolish desire – but just lay it aside. Then, when you see it as it is, recognising that it’s just desire, you are no longer attached to it.

So the way is always working with the moments of daily life. When you are feeling depressed and negative, just the moment that you refuse to indulge in that feeling is an enlightenment experience. When you see that, you need not sink into the sea of depression and despair and wallow in it. You can actually stop by learning not to give things a second thought.

You have to find this out through practice so that you will know for yourself how to let go of the origin of suffering. Can you let go of desire by wanting to let go of it? What is it that is really letting go in a given moment? You have to contemplate the experience of letting go and really examine and investigate until the insight comes. Keep with it until that insight comes: ‘Ah, letting go, yes, now I understand. Desire is being let go of.’ This does not mean that you are going to let go of desire forever but, at that one moment, you actually have let go and you have done it in full conscious awareness. There is an insight then. This is what we call insight knowledge. In Pali, we call it nanadassana or profound understanding.

I had my first insight into letting go in my first year of meditation. I figured out intellectually that you had to let go of everything and then I thought: ‘How do you let go?’ It seemed impossible to let go of anything. I kept on contemplating: ‘How do you let go?’ Then I would say, ‘You let go by letting go.’ ‘Well then, let go!’ Then I would say:

‘But have I let go yet?’ and, ‘How do you let go?’ ‘Well just let go!’ I went on like that, getting more frustrated. But eventually it became obvious what was happening. If you try to analyse letting go in detail, you get caught up in making it very complicated. It was not something that you could figure out in words any more, but something you actually did. So I just let go for a moment, just like that.

Now with personal problems and obsessions, to let go of them is just that much. It is not a matter of analysing and endlessly making more of a problem about them, but of practising that state of leaving things alone, letting go of them. At first, you let go but then you pick them up again because the habit of grasping is so strong. But at least you have the idea. Even when I had that insight into letting go, I let go for a moment but then I started grasping by thinking: ‘I can’t do it, I have so many bad habits!’ But don’t trust that kind of nagging, disparaging thing in yourself. It is totally untrustworthy. It is just a matter of practising letting go. The more you begin to see how to do it, then the more you are able to sustain the state of non-attachment.

About letting go of love, from Dr. Phil:

Have you been dumped, betrayed or left so heartbroken that you didn’t ever want to love again? Are you still stuck on an ex and don’t know how to move on? And how do you know when it’s time to let go and look for love somewhere else?

  • If you’re “the other woman” who’s waiting for a man to leave his lover, don’t waste your time. “If he’ll do it with you, he’ll do it to you,” Dr. Phil says. The man you want lacks integrity and can’t make a commitment.
  • Are your standards too low? Dr. Phil asks a guest who’s waiting around for a man that’s let her down time and again: “What is it about you that causes you to settle for somebody that you know will cheat on you, know will lie to you, know will make a commitment and then break it? What is it about you that you believe about yourself that you’re willing to settle for that?” Recognize that you’re settling and that you deserve more. Set a higher standard for yourself.
  • Does he really even make you happy? Be honest with yourself about the extent to which he’s really meeting your needs. Chances are you’re longing for the relationship that you wish it could be, and that you want to be in love with the person you wish he was. Dr. Phil reminds a guest: “There are times when you break up with somebody and you start missing them and you start thinking about all the good things. And then you’re back with them for about 10 minutes and you go ‘Oh yeah! Now I remember why I hate you!'” Don’t kid yourself about what it was really like or glorify the past.
  • Don’t wait around because you think he’s going to change. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, so the chance that he’s going to ride in on his white horse and do the right thing is pretty slim. Dr. Phil explains, “To the extent that there’s some history, you don’t have to speculate, you just have to measure.”
  • Don’t put your life on hold. Every minute you spend focusing on your ex is a minute that’s holding you back from a better future. Dr. Phil tells his guest, “As long you are obsessed on this guy, you will never put your heart, soul and mind into getting your life in order and starting another relationship if you want one.” Set some goals and start putting your life back together.
  • Ask yourself: Are you hiding in the relationship so you don’t have to face the reality of being on your own? Don’t stay with someone because it’s comfortable and safe. It may seem more secure, but it’s not healthy for you and it certainly won’t help you get to a better place. Why would you want to settle and waste your life away just to avoid getting back in the game?
  • Be clear with him. “You’ve got to say not just ‘no,’ but ‘hell no,'” Dr. Phil tells his guest. “‘Get out of my life. Stay away from me. Don’t call me.'” If you live together, it’s time to move out, or you may need to change your phone number. Dr. Phil reiterates: “Do what you have to do.” If the circumstances are more complicated or severe, you may need to get a lawyer in order to get child support or to hold him accountable for any other outstanding issues.
  • Don’t hold all men responsible for the mistake your ex made. Why should he pay for the sins of someone else who may have wronged you?
  • Learn to trust again — by trusting yourself. Dr. Phil tells a man who’s having a hard time letting women back into his life: “Trust is not about how much you trust one person or another to do right or wrong. How much you trust another person is a function of how much you trust yourself to be strong enough to deal with their imperfections.” Have enough faith in yourself to be able to put yourself on the line with someone, without any guarantee of what will happen next. If you’re playing the game with sweaty palms, it’s because you’re afraid of what you can or can’t do, or dealing with your own imperfections — it’s not about the other person.
  • Know that you will get hurt if you’re in a relationship. There is no perfect person without flaws. Even a well-intended guy is going to hurt his partner. He’s going to hurt your feelings. He’s going to say things that you don’t want him to say. He’s going to do things you wish he wouldn’t do and not do things you wish he would do. A relationship is an imperfect union between two willing spirits who say, ”I’d rather be in a relationship and share my life, share my joys, share my fun, share my activities, share my life than do it alone.” If you want to be in a relationship, know that getting hurt comes with the territory. You just have to decide that you are durable enough, that you have enough confidence in yourself that you can handle it.
  • Don’t invest more than you can afford to lose. While it’s important to move forward, you need to take things one step at a time. Don’t put so much out there that you’ll be emotionally bankrupt if things go south.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. You got through your last experience, you’ve learned from it, and now it’s time to move forward. Dr. Phil tells his guest, “You’ll move on and be a champion in your next endeavor as you did in your past … Life is not a success-only journey. You are going to get beat up along the way.”
  • Focus on yourself. All of us come into relationships with baggage, but you need to have closure on past experiences before you can start a new relationship with the odds in your favor. Dr. Phil tells a guest who’s had trouble with her father, her brother and two previous husbands: “Unless and until you’ve figured out everything you’ve got to figure out about that and you get closure, you will never come into a relationship with a fresh and clean heart and mind and expectancy and attitude.” You’re probably not ready to get into another relationship until you heal the wounds of your past.
  • Listen to what he’s saying. If he’s telling you that you want different things out of life and there’s no way you can work as a couple, don’t turn his words around into what you want to hear. He’s being quite clear.
  • Know the statistics. Dr. Phil tells a guest who’s waiting for her ex to come around: “There’s a 50/50 chance a marriage is going to work if both people are head over heels in love, passionate and willing to climb the mountain, swim the river and slay the dragon to get to each other. That’s with everybody crazy in love and running toward each other in that field that we see in the commercials. The problem you’ve got here is he’s running the other way in the field! So if it’s 50/50 when you’re running toward each other, what do you think it is when the other person is running out of the field and hiding in the woods?”
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