Updated: Oct 8, 2020
‘Letting Go’ is the most famous trend of this century. A trend that everyone seems to know about, but only a few get hold of. It is exactly like that new Gucci shirt, though most of us want to own it. We lack the resources to buy it, just like we lack the resources of letting go. Every religion preaches the same principle and yet somehow it is not as easily embodied as other religious beliefs.
Why can’t we Let Go?
While religious sculptures teach us about the Futility of attachment, natural selection taught us to plan everything. So technically, it is not our fault that we lack the ability to let go. It is the result of years of evolution, the same evolution which is the reason behind all our unhealthy eating habits. I don’t mean that everything that evolution has done is wrong, but there are plenty of things we could have been happier without. Like our attraction towards sweet, drugs, sex, planning and most importantly the anxiety of the future.
We evolved this way because our ancestors lacked resources to sustain a living. To lead a life in the competitive canes and jungles, they had to evolve. This process of natural selection explains almost all our behaviour in the context of what our ancestors had to do in order to survive. Also, the same principle is the reason behind our habit of planning and our inability to let go. Our ancestors were exposed to a lot of danger, though we don’t experience the same level of threat we tend to display the same level of stress. In conclusion, we can’t let go because humans have evolved to not go with the flow.
Why do we need to let go?
I could easily make a list of a hundred thousand books and articles that will explain to you the importance of letting go. Thankfully, I won’t do the same and answer this question in one word - ‘anxiety’. Yes, we need to let go because we are not on this planet to be constantly anxious about the future. The present moment never makes us anxious, but the probability of something in the future does. To learn to let go is to give up the stress about the future and be present, which is the only way to be happy.
If this is not a good enough reason for you to let go. Retrospect a little, and you’ll realise the biggest joys in your life came from unanticipated happiness. Like when you applied for a new job and forgot all about it as you were busy, and suddenly you receive a call for the new job. It might sound weird, but it is true. When you start letting go of ‘the end result’ your path becomes brighter and the probability of getting to the end result increases.
(If you want to learn more about this phenomenon, leave a comment.)
How to let go?
Well, this is the hardest answer to them all, and probably the reason why you started reading this article in the first place. Just like I said in the first paragraph, letting go is what we want, but lack the resources to get. The good thing is that the resources need not be bought or earned. To answer this question, I am going to reflect back on the two “why’s” above.
We can’t let go because of the evolution of humankind. So, the only way for us to learn to let go is to evolve our way back. You don’t have to evolve the entire humankind, just yourself and that won’t take thousands of years like the original evolution. Saying that evolving from a planner to a person who let go will take time.
Once you have established that you need to give yourself time to learn to let go, it is more or less a smooth ride. Just be patient and start by:-
Letting go of the small things or things that are in the immediate future. Example: plans for tonight or if the stranger on the road was rude to you.
Once you can easily let go of the small things, aim a little higher. Like your plans for the next week and your boss’s scolding.
You get the idea right, slow and study until you reach your life’s goal or expectations from your life partner.
If all the reasons in the world are not enough for you. Make a list of your own on the reasons why you should let go.
Also, reward yourself every time you let go. The bigger the situation the bigger the reward, this might work really well.
Is that all?
I want to say yes, but sadly, the answer is no. Learning to let go hard and maybe different for different people. Some people can go from 0 to 100 in a year, while some may fall back into the same pattern of planning and anxiety again and again. If that is the case for you, just find your way back to your list, some article, some book that originally motivated you to let go. You need to learn the art again and again to master it. But, once you do there is nothing but optimism, positivity and gratitude waiting for you.