Have you ever heard the phrase, “let go or be dragged.” There’s a lot of wisdom encapsulated in those few words. And, it’s the answer to many of the challenges you face in life. In fact, if you take it to heart and live by it, you’ll find life much easier and enjoyable.
So what types of things might you be holding on to? Here are a few examples:
- A piece of clothing that no longer fits or is worn out. And, don’t forget all the other things in your home that are serving no other purpose other than to clutter up your environment.
- A story you’ve told yourself about yourself for years. I’m too old, I’m too young, I don’t have enough experience, I’m a failure, I never get chosen for anything, and so on.
- A toxic client or job. You need the money and you don’t believe you can find anything better so you take the abuse and remain mired in misery.
Yes, people hang on to all sorts of things — unhappy relationships, dead-end or boring jobs, unproductive thoughts about themselves, and misguided thoughts about others or even the world.
When you hang on to things that are bad for you, you stay stuck. In fact, you keep reinforcing the worst because you keep thinking the same awful thoughts related to your lot in life. Your thoughts build their own prison that makes you feel like there aren’t options.
The very thing that you hang on to keeps you a prisoner. Because you won’t “let go” of that thing, it continues to drag you through unproductive thoughts, unhappy situations, and a life with no possibilities in sight.
So why do people hang on to things — even when they know it’s unproductive?
There are two main reasons. First, whatever they’re dealing with is familiar or comfortable. Humans are wired for safety and even if a situation is not good for them, they’re more apt to stay with it because it’s familiar. Any possibility beyond that can appear more frightening because the future is unknown. There are no guarantees that pursuing an unknown future will lead to something better. Humans strive to be “in the know” and anything outside that domain is perceived as unattainable and unsafe.
The second reason, closely tied to the first, is that it’s a habit. Humans are creatures of habit and, while most won’t admit it, many go through life on autopilot. They get up every day and go to the same miserable job or they tolerate the same toxic partner who they tuned out years ago.
And, then there are other reasons why people won’t let go. These typically revolve around obligations imposed by family, friends, society or institutions. And, let us not forget guilt — feeling guilty for doing or not doing pretty much everything.
Whatever the reason for not letting go, when you don’t, you’ll be dragged. You’re allowing the person or situation or idea to control you and what you do. It keeps you stuck. It diminishes your options and makes your world very small.
So how do you get unstuck?
First, you need to recognize you’re stuck. Sometimes you can see it, and sometimes you can’t. Friends, family members or other helping professionals can help you see what sometimes you cannot.
Second, explore other ideas. You don’t need to take action right now, but consider expanding your horizons by finding others who have dealt with a situation similar to yours. Through their stories you can learn strategies while building your own confidence. Their journey through overcoming challenges can be inspirational to you embarking on your own.
Third, find someone to help you take the first steps. That might be a friend, family member, or even a coach. They can provide guidance while you gather your resources to move your thoughts to a new place and eventually take steps to move forward.
For example …
- A therapist might be able to provide you and your partner with a new way of relating that creates a partnership that serves you both.
- A career coach can help you identify talents, skills, and abilities that can help you move out of one job and into a career that’s more suitable.
- A coach can help you identify mindset issues and provide you with exercises to build resilience to help you manage all aspects of your life.
Bottom line. Whatever you hold on to, holds on to you. If you don’t let it go, then it will continue to drag you through unhappy thoughts and situations. When you let it go by recognizing what it is and by taking steps to do things differently, you can create a life that is more enjoyable and meaningful.