Knowing When To Let It Go
Release what binds you and let yourself live.
Easier sang than done, learning to “let it go” is something that many people never completely figure out. The burden of holding on is almost as painful as the emotions that undoubtedly come with the release; and even if you end up liberated, the freedom is bittersweet. The truth is this: the more you invest of yourself into something that doesn’t serve you, whether that is a friendship, a partnership, relationship, or occupation, the more you weigh yourself down. You worry about the impact letting go will have on your life and theirs, along with the influence the decision will have on everyone and everything around you.
If you want to find happiness instead of drowning in resentment, be content rather than confused, then you need to let go and live. But how do you know when it’s time? Knowing when it is time to let go is crucial to so many things in your life, yet the signs are not always easy to spot.
For me, it is my intuition—that often irksome twittering in my mind and gut—that tells me to let go or to put an end to things. But I’m sometimes blind to my intuition, or I’ll ignore it. I’ll tell myself that “it’s not so bad.”
It’ll get better. Just give it some time. They’ll learn their lesson if…
Let’s face the facts here. More often than not, the person or the job or the thing you struggle to hold onto is never going to change. No matter the number of chances you give, no matter the patience you have, somethings are never going to get better.
Luckily, there are usually clues as vibrant as the neon signs of Tokyo all around for you to spot—as long as your eyes are open to them.
Signs That Tell You It Is Time To Let Go
Even if just one of these signs exist right now, you have more than enough reason to move on.
1. You are being disrespected.
In this life, there is little that wholly belongs to you. The only thing that you have from the moment you come into this world to when you leave it is yourself. Your thoughts, feelings, values, memories and experiences. No one can take those things away from you—unless you let them.
Letting someone change you, though, is not going to make you happy. Breaking yourself down and reassembling who you are based on the notions of another isn’t going to make you feel whole. If you’re being asked to sacrifice your personal integrity for someone else, you need to end it. If your job, lover, or friend is forcing you to act like someone you’re not, you are being disrespected.
Of course, there is more to being disrespected than being forced to give pieces of yourself up. There are healthy levels of compromise. Then there are the completely nefarious deeds that can happen, such as insults, cheating, lying, or other breaches of trust that ask you to go against your gut feeling and alter your behavior to either accept what happened (or will happen) or dismiss the act entirely.
If the other person is unwilling to change for the better but expects you to be different, you are being disrespected and need to leave.
2. You try too hard for little.
A healthy relationship is one that strikes equilibrium. Harmony is found in the give and take, and both parties share reciprocal responsibilities. And when you are operating at 20 percent, the other person should be willing to take up the remaining 80 percent.
You should never be forced to do more than what you are capable of for prolonged periods of time.
I’ll say it again: you should never be forced to give more than the other. Are you the one who always gives up money, time, or input? Are you the one who constantly struggles with frustration or anxiety or even feelings of inferiority in the relationship?
It’s not you. It’s them.
Okay, maybe it’s a little bit of you, too. Here’s why. Generally, we can think of any kind of relationship in terms of push-pull forces. When you push, your partner pulls, and vice versa. Now, let’s say all you are doing is pulling them along, trying to help them stand up on their own two feet, or even being the mom of the relationship and attempting to nurture and care for them. All this person is doing is either exerting inertia or grinding their heels into the sand, pushing away.
You get nowhere, and they get farther away.
For example, if you go over to your partner’s house and decide to clean up for them because they opt not to, and they continue to be a slob, thinking that it is now your job, you are putting way more into the relationship than they are. What do you think will happen when you suddenly wipe your hands clean of dealing with their messes?
If you lean back a little to let them pick up the slack, will they? Or will they just stare at the lead, get angry, or blame you for being lazy? Chances are, if they react negatively to you giving them more space to assist you, they will step back and won’t come back.
3. There’s nothing but inconsistency and irresponsibility.
This one always gets me. It’s where my intuition starts screaming at me: “You better run for the hills, girl! RUN FOR THE HILLS!”
And what do I do? “Oh, they’re just busy right now. Surely they can't be this irresponsible all the time.” Well, 9 times out of 10, they are—and that’s when I say adios, amigo. (Only after giving them way too many chances…)
We’re all works in progress. We can’t commit to perfection. Here’s the thing, though. Consistency is the basis of success. Taking responsibility and owning up to your faults, your mistakes, and your problems is a key to personal growth. Someone who can’t commit or show even of modicum of responsibility consistently is not going to make things in your life any easier.
Does a business partner tell you they will have something done by today but fail to deliver on that promise repeatedly?
Does a lover promise they will never accept a phone call from their ex again, only to do it the very next day?
Does a spouse repeatedly say they will work to quit a bad habit but never even start working towards the goal line?
You need to let these people go.
4. You try to convince yourself it’s worthwhile, when it’s really not.
“They’ll change. They’re just busy or preoccupied.”
“They didn’t mean what they said. They’ve been through a lot. I’m sure they’ll apologize.”
“This is how work is supposed to be, even though I never get time to enjoy my life anymore.”
Look. Really look at what is happening here. You are making justifications for behaviors or situations that you would never tolerate if you were a bystander or someone listening to these musings from someone else.
Do you honestly believe these statements you tell yourself?
No, you really don’t. You probably already have a hunch that the time you spend trying to make things right is time wasted. You probably already get anxious when thinking about spending the rest of your life with this job or this individual in question.
Listen to yourself. You are either going to be your own worst enemy here and entrap yourself, or you will realize you hold the key and open the door to the prison cell at last.
5. It is all about them.
This one is my favorite. I have been in so many relationships—work, friends, lovers—where the other party thought of themselves as the dominant member and tried to control everything. I was constantly put down, told that I should do things I don’t like or give up hobbies in order to please everyone but myself.
But I’m not the kind of person who takes well to being bossed around. Never have been. So when this starts happening, it’s easy for me to cut the rope tying me to the friend or the job or the partner and let them go.
I realize it’s not the same for many people, which is why I say this: the people you choose to surround yourself with should not be focused 100 percent on themselves all the time. By all means, you can be selfish once in a while. It’s how we grow as individuals. But if you want to have a healthy relationship with work or a new partner, you cannot go around satisfying their every whim while leaving yours unattended.
Dry seeds will never grow.
If you fill like the other person only ever thinks about themselves or is greedy or overly needy or, on the flip side, is not responsive to your needs and wants and goals, it’s time to get out of it.
6. You feel broken, frustrated, and unmotivated.
From the moment the thought, “I don’t want to do this anymore” ripples through your mind, you should know that you are going to end up feeling worse. Disliking your job will eventually becoming hating your job. Disliking that thing your boyfriend/girlfriend does will ultimately transpire into hating that thing they do. Disliking the direction your business is going will soon become hating the entire operation.
Dislike does not become like easily, and more often than not, it evolves more into apathy than an actual preference for something.
It’s like getting used to mushrooms on pizza because that’s all your roommate ever orders, even though you dislike them. Eat enough of it, and you start to overlook it. Still, you can’t say you like mushrooms.
But life can’t be compared to a pizza pie, right? You don’t want to go through your whole life apathetic to every thing you do and the people you affiliate with, because what’s the point? That’s not living. That’s pretending to be okay with the mushrooms even though it’s making you queasy.
“I’ll just pick ‘em off,” you say.
Good. That’s exactly what I wanted to hear. If you can pick off the pizza toppings you don’t like that easily, then why can’t you do the same with the choices you make in life?
You are free to pick and choose. You really are. Being broken, frustrated, and unmotivated is not how you are supposed to live, and it should never be a direct result of those you opt to spend time with.
Final Thoughts On Letting Go
Goodbyes are never easy, no matter the reason you have to say them. People will hurt you. Lovers will break promises. Business partners will shut you down and betray you. But you don’t have to keep drinking the poison.
Learning the signs and knowing that you can let go is the key to maintaining a healthy state of mind. You deserve to be happy. Not only that, only you have the power to put yourself in the position to make yourself happy.
Let go of what holds you back and thrive.