Refusing To Let Go

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To outside observers it can be hard to understand why people refuse to let go emotionally when what they’re holding on to has moved on. They spend all that psychological and emotional energy on something that offers very or nothing in return. Why?

From the existential point of view it’s an easy enough question to answer. The problem is existential anxiety, the threat of nothingness. Imagine tenaciously holding on to a shrub on the side of a mountain where when you look down all you see is empty space. Even though the energy exerted to keep your hands clasped around that shrub is draining you to the point of physical and mental exhaustion you’re not going to let go until you absolutely have to. The alternative seems far worse than the pain you’re feeling now. That alternative is nothingness, death, the destruction of your being.

Symbolically speaking, remaining connected to anything when it’s obvious that it’s time to let go and move on is the result of believing that there is no ground beneath you to catch your fall, that a bottomless chasm of nothingness awaits you.

Therefore part of priming yourself to say goodbye to the past in order to make room for the present and the future is challenging that hidden, hard to pin down but very real belief that there isn’t going to be anything to stand on if you let go of whatever it is you’re holding on to.

It’s not nothingness that awaits you when you let go, it’s simply a different set of concrete circumstances. No matter what those circumstances are, you can always ground yourself in the present moment by coming back to your breathing. “Breathing in, I’m alive in the present moment. Breathing out, I’m grateful for the present moment.” “Breathing in, I let go of what was. Breathing out, I make room for what is.”