So many of us can’t seem to let go…of things, of the past, of people or of dreams we have had that no longer work for us.  We will hold on, white knuckled, until somehow someone either pries our hand away, or whatever we are holding on to disintegrates before our eyes.  Why are we like that?  Why can letting go be so difficult and terrifying?!

Afraid of Forgetting – Sometimes we are afraid to let go of something because we are afraid we will forget.  We are scared that a feeling, a memory or even a person may be forgotten if we don’t cling to every moment.  That somehow whatever we are holding on to will diminish in importance in our lives.  I have heard that hoarders a lot of times are created because of a traumatic event in their lives (like a loss of a loved one) that makes them want to hang on to everything, no matter how cluttered their home or their lives may get!  We hold on to pictures in boxes and drawers never looked at because we never want to forget someone’s face or an experience we had.  You know what?  No matter what you hold on to, you may forget a detail or ten during your life and THAT IS OKAY.  I truly learned this lesson from my mother.  She loved to take pictures of our family, places she went and any occasion, to the point that it was one of the most important things to her during whatever thing was going on!  It would be so annoying sometimes because it seemed she couldn’t just enjoy the moment until AFTER she had a picture of it!  Then she got sick…with Alzheimer’s.  So, no matter what boxes of pictures, albums, slides or other memorabilia she had, she forgot it all anyway.  I have spent a lot of time worrying I would forget, but, I have also learned that it might happen anyway, so I try to enjoy every moment I can regardless.  No need to hold on to tons of things to remind me.  When my mother was sick, sure she forgot a lot of things I wish she didn’t have to, but, she also forgot a lot of ugly things she had in her life, which can be a blessing and, even at the worst of it, some things still just stuck.  I believe some memories become a part of us whether our mind can recall them or not.

Afraid of Losing Control – Another reason we humans hate to let go of something is because once we do we may not be able to control whatever it is we are letting go of.  Our kids growing up is a great example.  We want to hold on to things that keep them young because we feel like we lose all sense of control if they get older and the truth is, Mom and Dad, we don’t really have total control over them, their lives, their thoughts or their desires! So, might as well not cling to things that are done anyway.  Our job is to teach them to manage their own lives, so, letting them do things on their own is an important part of them being able to function as adults.  If it is a position at work you have moved on from or even just a task that you need to let someone else do, we worry things won’t be done just like we did them.  Something might go wrong or whoever is taking over might make a mistake!  Oh well.  It’s THEIR mistake.  It’s their chance to learn and grow, and if you are their boss, then you will help them become a better employee by letting them learn, and also you will know when something truly isn’t working and you can LET THEM GO! Who wants the constant responsibility that everything in the world is on your shoulders for you to control, anyway?!  That sounds exhausting!  

Afraid of Making a Mistake – We hate to make mistakes.  I think everyone likes to be RIGHT.  We want to it to be known we are right, that we know things and that we do things correctly!  We want to feel that way all the time,  HOWEVER, we can’t be all those things all the time, because then someone else loses their time to be right!  Every single person in this world makes mistakes.  Some may make more than the average person and some may make a bit less, but, there is NO ONE that doesn’t make a mistake with something.  Some of the most successful people have made HUGE mistakes and that is how they learned the best way to succeed later!  Then there are others who feel they have made a huge mistake, only to find out it wasn’t a mistake and it was the best thing for their lives.  You will make a mistake.  From now on, just do your best to learn from whatever mistakes you make!  Use them to grow and be a better person!  One thing I have learned, however, is that others don’t generally learn from YOUR mistakes.  I was so sure that when I had kids I could tell them about all the stupid choices and mistakes I made and then they just wouldn’t do them.  WRONG.  They all had to learn by making their own mistakes.  It has been the best way for them to move ahead in their adult lives and be the awesome people they all are today! (Seriously, they are all truly awesome!)

Dwell on Freedom – Instead of dwelling on how hard it is to let go of something, think of how free you will feel when you don’t have to carry that “thing” around with you anymore.  I used to save everything because “you never know when you are going to need it” and for every item I got rid of something (and later wished I didn’t) the feeling still paled in comparison of how I felt when I got rid of a bunch of stuff that I held on to for years!  That release was one of the best feelings of MY LIFE.  Stuff held me in like a purgatory for years!  I couldn’t do “this” or “that” until I got rid of that stuff.  I couldn’t move ahead.  It was a horrible, underlying feeling I had for so long that it became a part of me.  I had NO CLUE how liberating and wonderful and FREE I would feel when it was GONE.  When I finally LET IT GO it was amazing.  So, dwell on the feelings you will have AFTER you let go of something and not on the “what if” fears.  You will feel free and be able to see some things in your life so much more clearly.  It will be good for you, your psyche and your family as well. 

Letting go isn’t easy.  It takes courage, faith and the willingness that you might regret one thing or another if you do, however, overall, you will live your best life and feel so much better about future choices you will make.  You will not just be okay, you will be amazing.   

Until Next Time!

Jen Lush–Associate Broker & Mother of Managing Broker

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.