Why focusing on letting go if it’s our dream life that we’re after? Because those two subjects are more related than you think. With fewer needs and limitations, there’s more room to experiment and explore. As you liberate yourself from second-guessing and objecting, your flexibility will only grow. Moreover, an open mind will boost your learning curve, if not propel you all the way toward your goal 🙂 But first things first: learning to let go. These 5 steps will free your mind.
1. Letting go = learning to let go of the past
Over the course of your life, you’ve accumulated ways to behave, systematic habits, and strong beliefs. Those behaviors, beliefs, and habits have traveled with you from the past, and they come in different ways. Some of them, you might not even be conscious of. But, if it’s letting go that you’re after, you need to become aware of what you’ve taken with you from the past.
How to liberate yourself of limitations
The first step in learning to let go of the past is becoming aware of how your past has shaped you. Think about your upbringing or any significant experiences in your later life. How have life-changing moments shaped the way you behave? Those are the insights that you are after. Some questions to ask yourself for more awareness:
- How has your upbringing influenced your attitude toward danger?
- What were you taught about living the life of your dreams?
- What experiences stopped you from doing what you like?
How I learned to let go of the past
It was exactly the process of asking myself those questions that helped me to become aware. As an example, you’ll find some of my answers to these questions right here below.
- How has your upbringing influenced your attitude toward danger? Danger is around is. It is better to be afraid than to have no fear.
- What were you taught about living the life of your dreams? A realistic and pragmatic approach rather than an emphasis on wishes and dreams.
- What experiences stopped you from doing what you like? Not being fully aware of how the learning curve works. If I fell or tripped during the process of learning, I thought immediately: “see, I am not capable enough”. Applies to many things in life, in my case, mostly creative aspirations 🙂
2. Learn how to trigger the change
As soon as I answered those questions, I knew what to work on if I wanted to change. To let go of the past, I needed to exchange fear for fun by exploring new things, even if there might be a small risk on the side. You can apply the same tactics, in the areas where your challenges are most profound. Don’t take huge risks; take tiny ones, so that you’ll feel accomplished and persevere. Allow yourself enough time to learn and stay patient instead of feeling disturbed. Make sure you listen to your inner voice instead of following the expectations of our society and the status quo.
My process of letting go of the past
So now, I knew my limiting thoughts and habits and the behavioral ways that I could change. The solution was right in front of me. But it required me to proactively go against my old habits and challenge my thought patterns and routines. Mapping out my liberation journey went more or less this way:
- How has your upbringing influenced your attitude towards danger? Danger is around is. It is better to be afraid than to have no fear. But I’ll take my chances and explore if fearless is more fun.
- What were you taught about living the life of your dreams? A realistic and pragmatic approach rather than an emphasis on wishes and dreams. But there IS a dream deep inside me, and I am genuinely curious to pursue this ‘what-if’.
- What experiences stopped you from doing what you like? Not being fully aware of how the learning curve works. If I fell or tripped during the process of learning, I thought immediately: “see, I am not capable enough”. Applies to many things in life, in my case, mostly creative aspirations J But even though time has passed, I’ll give it another go. I’ll reflect on those early-on creative aspirations and try things again that I’d then written off.
The effects of me letting go of my past
If there’s one thing that to let go of the past has brought me, it is learning an insane boatload of fabulous new things. In less than two years, I took on the following:
- I quit my job to travel the world
- I bought a van and learned how to camp
- I learned how to boulder, rock climb, and go trekking in the Alps
- I’m learning to surf and skate
- I learned to speak new languages and learned to live and integrate in different countries
- I started my own business for the first time in my life
So to me, life definitely became more tantalizing since I let go of my past.
3. Let go of the past by changing perspective
Now that you’re aware of limiting thoughts and behaviors, you know where to look for change. You might try to navigate change by setting intentions or by using affirmations to get where you want. But exercises for your mind are not the only way to go. If you distance yourself from your physical environment, you’ll rediscover your life from another point of view. Learning new skills or meeting other people that resonate with your purpose are helpful in learning to let go of the past.
4. Set intentions for letting go
Navigating the change by setting intentions sure is a compassionate way to go. Intentions are designed to steer your thoughts and, therefore, actions to specific areas in your life. You focus on the exact area where the change is needed. And you’ll do so with determination and a clearly formulated method in mind. Using intentions to let go of the past means writing down an intrinsically motivated sentence that reminds you to let go.
Examples of intentions to let go
The most effective intentions are clearly formulated, decisive, and to-the-point. Keep in mind that less is more for any intention, but perhaps even more so for intentions to let go. In my case, I wanted to let go of fear and used the intention: “I intend to let new experiences prevail over my fears”. And on a day-to-day-level: “Today I will try something new”. Of course, I am not saying you should be totally irresponsible (please don’t try to do super-risky stuff ;)) But in my case, I was tremendously risk-avoiding. In the end, it’s all about balance. What you aspire to do in life and what you’re actually doing should add up over time.
More examples of intentions for letting go
Using intentions to let go of the past is a personal process. So, if any words or sentences come to mind, I encourage you to write that down. But in case you need some inspiration, here are a few examples for a gentle start:
- I intend to release any negative thoughts
- I intend to say goodbye to my grudges
- I intend to let go of anxiety or fear
- I intend to live in the present and not in the past
- I intend to be curious about new experiences
- I intend to be free of limitations
- I intend to let bygones be bygones
5. Take one step at a time
Letting go means shaking off numerous old habits, and it might take you some time before you feel more free. Staying patient and mindful throughout the process will keep you positive and engaged. So take note of every milestone, no matter how small. Look back occasionally to acknowledge how far you’ve come.
Checklist: how to let go of the past
- With fewer needs and limitations, there’s more room to experiment and explore
- Reflect on your past to detect unaware behavior, beliefs, and habits
- Trigger change by actively going against your old patterns
- Use intentions or affirmations to support and guide your change
- Take physical distance from your habitual environment to allow for enough space to explore
- Learn new skills or meet different people that resonate with your new goals in life
- Take it slow: find gratitude in progressing one step at a time
Want to read more about how to let go of the past?
I often acknowledge how fortunate we are to live in the digital era. Because the resources to dig deeper into every desired topic are endlessly vast. It’s easy to get pulled into a world of wonderful sources and get sidetracked along the way 🙂 Therefore, it comes in handy to know a few of the strongest publishers in the field of our mind. To me, PsychologyToday is definitely at the top of the list, especially their section The Adaptive Mind. Within this section, you’ll find many intriguing topics, and among those, quite a few helpful posts on letting go.
Did you enjoy reading this post?
I sure hope you did 🙂 If you have any questions, recommendations, or experiences you want to share, I’d be more than happy to read your thoughts! You can leave your comment in the field below. Did this post help you discover how to let go of the past, or do you know someone who’d like to find out? Feel free to share this post (via the URL bar or any of the social share buttons) and get the positive energy flowing!