I’m not good at letting go. But I try to be.
Because each time I hang on to something or someone I know I should have let go, I lose my energy for life. And I want to die.
It’s never easy to let go. Attachment is part of our what keeps us alive.
But sometimes, it’s also what will kill us.
The key: learn to recognise when it’s time to let go.
I’ve tried these and they work for me. I’m not saying you should use them. Everyone’s different. But here they are:
A. Don’t force it
I was the slowest runner in my class in primary school. Nobody would pick me for their team.
They didn’t want to lose. I didn’t blame them. Every team I was in went to the bottom of the ranks.
But I still felt bad about it. Who likes being picked last?
I swore I would become the fastest runner in class. So my classmates would pick me first.
So off I went running after school. I hated it. Then I got lazy. Then I gave up.
I told myself, ‘I’m not athletic.’
Then, at 17, I picked up martial arts.
I loved it. I obsessed about it. I went to every class. Even when finals were next week, I went.
I wasn’t the best, but I wasn’t the worse either.
Out of 30 students who enrolled, over 20 would drop out before the end of our first term. I was there until the end.
I was athletic. I just hadn’t found the right sport.
When something isn’t right for you, you have to force it. It feels unnatural.
After some time, you begin to hate it.
When it’s something you love, you keep going. Even when you risk losing everything, you keep going.
That’s the power of love.
I apply this to all my relationships. If I have to force it, I don’t think it’s good for me.
So I move on.
B. Be harsh
I used to allow people to treat me like my feelings didn’t matter. Like I was dust under a rug.
‘It’s okay, they didn’t mean to hurt me,’ I would reason.
But it hurt, whether they meant it or not.
And they did it over and over again.
I told them, ‘Don’t do this to me, it hurts.’
They told me, ‘You are too sensitive.’
I told them, ‘I’m depressed, help me.’
They didn’t. They told me, ‘You are too self-centered.’
Things were getting toxic quick. Too much poison, I almost died.
So I left them.
And half my problems disappeared.
I’m not saying they were bad people. They were good people. But we didn’t see the same world.
Nobody does. But it’s still worth being with people who at least don’t think you were stupid or crazy half the time.
C. Believe them when they show you who they are
When I was in Form 6, my friend asked me what I thought about her boyfriend.
‘Do you think he’s flirty?’
He flirted with me. But should I say?
I was quiet for a while. She stared at me.
‘You can tell me the truth. I’m doing an investigation.’
‘Yes,’ I told her, ‘he flirts with everyone.’
They broke up that day. She took his bag and threw it from the third storey.
She should have been in English class with me. But she was outside, throwing things.
Her next boyfriend was a lot better.
I was happy for her.
But most people are not like her.
Instead of throwing them out, they keep people who are bad for them. They don’t want to believe that their boyfriend isn’t good for them.
It makes them look bad for choosing him in the first place.
So they justify his bad behavior.
‘He’s not always like this.’
‘He’s just having a bad week.’
‘He’s having problems.’
‘He’s not the affectionate type.’
In their hearts, they already know the answer. But they don’t want to believe it.
‘When someone shows you who they are, believe them.’
I heard this on Oprah years ago. I think she was right.
The most harmful thing you can do to yourself is to keep someone who hurts you with no remorse in your life.