How to Release and Let Go of Your Emotional Baggage

Tao Te Ching

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.


Do You Retreat When Facing Adversity?

What do you typically do when facing adversity? Do you muster up all your strength, willpower, and courage? Or do you quickly succumb to your difficulties and retreat back into the safety of your comfort zone?

These are two normal and typical responses to seemingly overwhelming odds. We either muster up the strength and courage to move forward or wilt under pressure. However, there is actually a third response that possibly transcends the other two options. And that is to release and let go!


What it Means to Release and Let Go!

To release and let go means surrendering to the present moment. It means surrendering yourself to your current circumstances.

Surrendering is, of course, not the same as giving up. To give up means to quit taking action in the direction of your desired outcome. It’s a form of retreat where you move away from something you desperately want.

To surrender, on the other hand, is very much like a “step back” rather than a full retreat. It gives you space to think about your life and circumstances. It gives you space to gather new insights and perspectives. It gives you space to move forward in a better way — to allow for positive change and transformation.

When you surrender you release all attachment to past memories of failure and mistakes, to people who are holding you back, and to unhelpful thoughts and feelings that often sabotage your progress.

When you release and let go, you’re surrendering to the present moment. You’re surrendering yourself to how things are right now, and this makes way for new opportunities and perspectives.

However, this carefree state-of-mind doesn’t only apply to moments when you are chasing your goals. It also applies to other circumstances when you face some kind of friction, change, problem, conflict or some form of discomfort that eats away at your happiness.

Whenever we fight and struggle to resist, we get riled up emotionally. And when that happens, our emotions often cloud our judgment. They create a pattern of resistance where we struggle to see things clearly and objectively. As a result, we make poor choices and get too attached to specific outcomes.

When you release and let go, you’re not trying to avoid the consequences of your predicament. You’re not forgetting what has happened or the reality of your circumstances. You are instead taking the time to clear your head and gain a clearer perspective of the situation.

Releasing and letting go is all about responsibility. It’s about taking responsibility for whatever situation you find yourself in. It’s about stepping back and not allowing yourself to get overwhelmed by that particular moment. In other words, it allows space for positive change and transformation.

The Importance of Letting Go


Reasons to Release and Let Go!

Releasing and letting go when facing difficulties certainly ain’t easy. However, there are moments when it’s beneficial to step back, to release all attachment, and gain a proper perspective of the situation.

For instance, release and let go when your fears are getting the better of you. Release and let go when you’re consistently making unreasonable compromises. And release and let go when you’re overly sacrificing your personal values.

Release and let go when you struggle with your hurts, regrets, failures, and mistakes. Release and let go when you hold grudges or deny yourself the opportunity for growth and development.

Release and let go when you’re feeling lousy and miserable, when you’re stuck and in a rut, and when you feel you’re moving down the wrong path and have a strong desire for change.

Just release, and let go…

Release yourself from the burden of all these things. They do not necessarily serve you. They only serve to hurt you.

Holding onto this baggage will only weigh you down. It’s a road you don’t want to travel because it will only lead you down the path of misery and despair.

People spend their entire lives resisting all the crap that life throws their way. However, the more they resist, the deeper they sink into an abyss of endless regrets.

This abyss is kind of like quicksand. Once you’re knee deep in the muck, you feel kind of stuck. But this is only an illusion. You’re not stuck. It only appears that way. However, you don’t realize it, and so you struggle and resist. And as a result, you sink deeper into the muck, and before you know it, you’re way over your head with no way out.

Getting out of quicksand is about non-resistance. It’s about stepping back and taking your time to think through your dilemma. It’s about releasing and letting go of your struggles. Don’t fight the quicksand. Instead, use it as a tool to help you get unstuck.

When you release and let go you free yourself to gain a proper perspective of the situation — you free yourself to see things clearly. You can then use those insights to move forward in a better way.

Reasons to Let Go


Releasing and Letting Go is the Key to Happiness

Imagine for a moment that I made you a promise. I promised you that if you let go of certain things that you would experience unbridled happiness. Would you believe me?

Whether you believe me or not, how about we test it out?

Below you will find a list of things that I would like you to release and let go of. In other words, just release the need to care about these things. Yes, some of them are arguably an important part of your life, but what if you just decided that these things didn’t really matter? What if you decided that your happiness was far more important? Just maybe it could be worth a try. 🙂

Okay, so here is the list of things that I recommend you release and let go of starting today:

  • Let go of past regrets.
  • Let go of toxic friendships and relationships.
  • Let go of taking criticism and rejection personally.
  • Let go of agonizing over your mistakes.
  • Let go of trying to be perfect.
  • Let go of all doubts you have about your future and ability.
  • Let go of all the things you can’t change or control.
  • Let go of everything you could potentially lose.
  • Let go of all the fears that are holding you back from your dreams.
  • Let go of attachment to specific results and outcomes.
  • Let go of trying to live up to other people’s standards or expectations of you.
  • Let go of trying to win other people’s approval.
  • Let go of being dragged down by your feelings of guilt and shame.
  • Let go of painful emotions that are keeping you stuck.
  • Let go of your insecurities, unrealistic expectations, and negative thoughts.
  • Let go of being dragged down by people’s emotional outbursts and problems.
  • Let go of holding onto choices you made or failed to make.
  • Let go of playing the victim of circumstance, and instead, start taking responsibility for creating a better life.

Simple enough, right? Well, yes and no. Releasing and letting go of all these things won’t be easy. However, it will certainly be worth it, especially when it comes to your long-term happiness.

To begin with, try letting go of all these things (or just a handful of things) for one day. Then, when you have mastered it for a day, try for a week, then a month, and see how you go from there. Just start somewhere, anywhere. It will help to get the ball rolling. 🙂

You might, however, be wondering how to do this? How do we release and let go of all these things? Is it even possible? The answer is a resounding YES, but it will take some planning and practice on your part.

Keys to Happiness


How to Release and Let Go!

Okay, so how do we actually do it? How do we release all that baggage that is holding us back? How do we let go of all that stuff that makes us feel absolutely miserable?

Well, there isn’t one single answer to these questions. There isn’t one miracle thing you can do that will immediately help you to release and let go of your baggage. You will instead need to progressively focus on developing several new habits and routines.

Let’s explore some of these guidelines below. Specifically, let’s first explore the four progressive phases of letting go. Then afterward, I’ll provide a few additional suggestions that will help you along the way.


Phase 1: Recognize Moments of Attachment

The first phase of letting things go is all about awareness. It’s about recognizing moments when you start getting emotionally attached to things. During these moments you may feel somewhat uncomfortable or uncertain. That’s when you must recognize that it’s time to release and let go.

For instance, let’s say that someone criticized you and you took it personally. Or let’s say that you regret something you did or didn’t do. Or just maybe you made a fatal mistake that you can’t take back and you now feel guilty about it. Or, possibly you caught yourself doubting your own ability to achieve a goal. Whatever that may be for you, you must decide at that moment to release and let go.

To help you to release and let go during those critical moments, take the time to ask yourself the following set of questions:

What am I currently holding onto that’s starting to make me feel miserable?

How exactly does this make me feel?

What are the short and long-term consequences of holding onto this?

Why is it important for me to let this go?

What value will I gain by letting this go?

How can I begin this process?

These questions are a great starting point. However, it’s important that you don’t stop there. You need to work through all four phases to fully release and let go.

Phase 2: Write Down Your Thoughts

The second phase of this process requires that you take the time to write down your thoughts on paper. This could very much be a journaling exercise you do each day.

Take out a notebook or journal and write down your thoughts and experiences for that day. Pay particular attention to writing down your concerns, problems, and all the things you struggled to release and let go. Dig deep and list absolutely everything that made you feel miserable that particular day. Then, take a deep breath, and consciously decide to let all these things go.

One method that works incredibly well is to burn that page. Yes, actually rip the page out of your notebook and throw it into the fire. This ritual can become a powerful symbol that helps you to release and let go. And, once it’s done, just move on. Leave the past in the past and choose to move forward with your life.

It’s such a simple thing, but it can make a huge difference in the way you feel about your life and circumstances.

Phase 3: Practice Becoming a Witness

The third phase takes a bit of practice. It’s all about becoming a witness to your experience. This requires mentally stepping back from your problems and circumstances and viewing them from a 3rd person’s perspective. Kind of like an outsider looking in on the situation.

This witness doesn’t judge or criticize. They just observe. They observe on both the outside and on the inside. In other words, they observe what’s going on in the outside world, and also what’s happening internally with your thoughts and feelings.

This is all about being present and mindful. It’s about being mindful of all your decisions, reactions and the emotions you experience, but without any judgment.

It’s all about observation and self-reflection, which helps you to experience everything in a very detached way. And this, of course, just makes it much easier to release and let things go. It’s easier because you’re not emotionally engaged. You can instead think things through more rationally and objectively.

Phase 4: Focus on Moving Forward, Not Backward

The final phase is to train yourself to focus on moving forward.

Life is very much like a yo-yo of experiences. We continuously move back and forth between our past, present, and future. We desire to move forward, however, our regrets, mistakes, failures, and all that other baggage pulls us back into the past.

Living in the past holds us back in the present and prevents us from moving forward. It keeps us stuck, and holds us hostage. Moreover, it riles up some nasty emotions that make it very difficult to release and let go. And, when we’re unable to release and let go, we cannot move forward, and this eats away at our happiness.

One of the best ways to separate ourselves from the past is to spend time visualizing.

Take time each day to visualize for 20 minutes. Just visualize releasing and letting go of all the stuff that is weighing upon your shoulders.

With every breath, you release, visualize expelling these things out into the universe. And with every breath, you inhale, visualize yourself drawing in positive energy that helps you to project more joy, compassion, and love into the world.

Your ideal state-of-mind is to focus on the present. And one of the best ways to do this is through gratitude.

Take time to reflect on the things that you are grateful for. Ask yourself:

What am I grateful for right now?

Why do I appreciate having these things in my life?

Gratitude will help bring your mind to the present. Then from there, you can focus on moving forward, not backward.

How to Release and Let Go


Use a Token as a Reminder to Let Go!

One helpful method that you can use as a reminder to let go is to keep a token in your pocket.

This token can be a coin, marble, rock, or anything else that is relatively small. Alternatively, you can wear a ring on your finger that works in the same way.

Every time you touch this token, it will remind you to take a deep breath and to release and let go of all the baggage you are carrying upon your shoulders.

It’s such a simple thing, but it can make a world of difference.

Take Time to Talk with Family and Friends

Anytime you’re struggling to let things go, it can be helpful to have a quick chat with family or friends.

Talk with them about your experiences, struggles, problems, and the emotions you are going through. Ask them for their advice and guidance. Listen to what they say. Just maybe they will have some sage advice that can help you to release the baggage you are carrying upon your shoulders.

You might also find it helpful to ask these people the following questions:

How have you previously managed to just let things go?

What has worked best for you that might also work for me?

What advice do you have that could help in my situation?

Keep in mind that other people might not have the answers you’re searching for. However, their answers could very well provide insights that might help you find your answers somewhere else. Possibly even within your own self. 🙂

Spend Time Exercising

Another method that works extremely well that can help you to release and let go comes in the form of exercise.

When we’re stagnant and still, it can be challenging to release and let go. It’s difficult because our physiology isn’t in an ideal receptive or energized state. However, that changes very quickly when we’re exercising.

When you exercise, you are forced to move your body. This gets your heart pumping, stimulates hormone production, and as a result, your entire physiology changes. Subsequently, your brain finds it difficult to stay attached to all the stuff that has been weighing upon your shoulders. It’s forced instead to focus on the present moment.

Exercise is kind of like pressing the reset button on your brain. It reboots the system, and as a result, you experience more clarity of mind, which helps you to think through situations more objectively and rationally.

Exercise also helps you to release some steam. All the pent up energy can finally be released, which, subsequently provides you with more clarity of mind.

Guidelines for Letting Go


Concluding Thoughts

There is no doubting the fact that we carry a lot of mental and emotional baggage around. Some of this baggage seems rather small, insignificant and harmless.

Carrying a backpack with only one brick might seem like it doesn’t really matter. But we don’t just carry one brick. We carry a multitude of bricks stemming from a multitude of things that we just can’t seem to release and let go of. And this weighs heavily upon our shoulders.

To release and let go you must start by removing one brick at a time. You, of course, won’t immediately feel a difference, but if you continue the process and keep removing more and more bricks from your backpack, you will eventually feel the weight releasing from upon your shoulders. And that is when the burden of the world will no longer be yours, and you will have the freedom to experience true happiness and enjoy life to the fullest.


Time to Assimilate these Concepts

Release and Let Go

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Adam is a life coach, mind mapper, doodler and visual thinker. He founded IQ Matrix in 2009 and has created over 350 self-growth mind maps. He also has a Free 40 Day How to Doodle Course where he teaches how to doodle using simple daily lessons. Read more about Adam's story, and how he created the concept for IQ Matrix. Feel free to also get in touch and send Adam a message here.