how to let go even when it feels like you can’t

This is part of my Spring Cleaning series that runs on Wednesdays through the end of Spring. In this series, we’ll explore the things that clutter our lives (especially, mental and emotional clutter) and how to let it go.


It’s time to let go.

There is something you have been holding onto for years. You know the thing I mean.

It could be:

  • a pair of jeans you haven’t been able to wear for five years
  • a grudge with your brother who has made some bad choices in his life and said some unkind things at Christmas dinner three years ago
  • a flower vase that your mom gave to you but doesn’t match your style and you never use it and never will, it just sits in the cabinet taking up space
  • the anger you feel toward your stepdad for listening to your phone conversations in high school
  • a box of baby clothes in the garage that you keep even though your kids are already in middle school and you don’t really plan to have more at this point

… just to name a few.

But yours is probably different. Whatever it is, whether it is physical, mental, emotional, or familial, no matter if it is a good memory you are trying to hold onto way after its over or a bad memory that won’t leave you alone… no matter what it is, it’s time to let go.

(Note: I’m not saying to let go of the good memories, but the physical things you hold onto may not be adding any real value to your life now. Keep the memories, the photos, and a few small tokens. Let go of the rest.)

These things that we hold onto take up space in our lives. They occupy physical space, emotional space, and often mental space (as we retrace old conversations or dream up new ones that might make it all better). This is space that we could use right now to create new memories or to simply enjoy a full and relaxing breath.

It’s time to get real.

If the jeans don’t fit, and you have no real plans to make them fit again anytime soon, it’s time to set them free.

If you are holding onto anger or holding a grudge because you think someone else deserves your anger, take another look… who is it really hurting? (I’ll give you a hint: You.)

If your babies are grown up, it’s time to set aside those special favorite outfits or pieces and donate the rest to someone who can use it now.

If there is something you are holding onto and can’t let go of now, ask yourself these questions:

  • Have you been holding onto it for more than a year?
  • Is it adding something helpful, useful, or enjoyable to your life?
  • Who is it hurting?
  • What would be different in your life if you let go of it?


It’s time to decide.

I used to carry around a lot of anger toward my stepdad because of some of the things he did as I was growing up that made me feel like an innately bad person who could never be trusted (like listen to my phone conversations. Yep, that really happened).

I carried a big ball of anger around with me for nearly two decades before I decided it was time to let it go. By holding onto it, the only person I was hurting was me.

Around this time, I watched an episode of Oprah’s Life Class about Letting Go of Anger and heard this one phrase:
“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different than it actually was.”

And I realized that it really was time to give up that hope and accept that what happened happened, and let go.

That night before I went to sleep, I said it out loud: I don’t want to be angry any more. I’m letting it go.

And I visualized those words coming out of my belly, up through my throat and out of my mouth, carrying with it that ball of anger I’d been holding onto for so long. And I watched it float away.

The next morning, I felt free. And ready to forgive.

Can I still get angry about the past? Sure. Do I still dislike some stuff from my childhood? Yes. But that big ball of anger I used to carry around is gone. It’s no longer taking up space in my heart, and it no longer occupies so much of my time and energy.

All I really did was decide to let it go. It really can be that simple.

What is it time for you to decide to let go of?

Photo Credits: Martin LaBar and

2 Replies to “how to let go even when it feels like you can’t”

  1. I held on to a pair of jeans I couldn’t wear for ten years but after five months of 5/2 fasting I’m able to zip them up.

    I couldn’t actually breathe when wearing them, but give it another three months!

    You definitely need to let go of the things you cannot change. I love how you put that and thank you for posting such inspiring examples.

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