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6 Tips to Live in Peace and Balance: What to Let Go

“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” ~Havelock Ellis

Imagine that you have to move in two days. Would you be able to pack all your possessions in that time and clean out your house completely?

How about your mental baggage? If you have only two days left to finish all the important projects in your life, would you be able to do it?

Three years ago I left the country where I was born and raised and moved permanently to a different place half way around the globe.

Packing was not easy because there were so many things that were meaningful to me but of course I couldn’t take them all. But even more difficult was the part of leaving my friends and family behind. I couldn’t put my friends in a suitcase and smuggle them across the border.

However, the hardest part was still ahead. Soon after I got to the US I realized that I had to let go of a lot of habits and even my lifestyle. Everything was so different from where I grew up.

I had two choices: to hold on to my past, complain, and be completely miserable or let go of everything that was no longer relevant and start a new life while still holding on to my authentic self.

You may not have had to go through such drastic changes in life. However, we all face the dilemma of letting go and holding on.

A lot of times if we are not forced to let go of something we keep dragging 10, 20, 40 years of mental and physical baggage behind us. At some point that baggage becomes so unbearably heavy that we just decide to stop moving forward and start living in the past.

We stop having new goals and dreams. We stop meeting new people. We stop trying new things. We stop learning. But, ironically, we still keep buying and acquiring more physical clutter to fill our homes and closets.

Of course, on the other hand if you throw away everything you love and enjoy, then suddenly you lose your personality. Frankly speaking, you cease to know yourself then.

So, quoting Havelock Ellis again, how do you mingle letting go and holding on? The answer to this question will give you the ultimate inner peace and balance.

1. Physical clutter.

In the world where buying is easier than walking (buying a new gadget requires minimum energy—pick up the phone and order it) it’s really difficult to keep our houses clutter free.

When you try to clean up, throwing away stuff that you no longer use comes easy—like a sweater that has stains from a barbecue party or your kids’ toys that they no longer play with. But how about things that you are emotionally attached to? It’s a totally different story.

Make a stack of things that have meaning to you, look at every item in that stack, and ask yourself “What does this thing really mean to me? If I don’t own it, will I still be able to keep the memories that are dear to me? Can someone else in my family have better use of this item?”

It’s even better to ask someone else to go over this stack with you. While you are emotionally attached to all these items another person (your friend, spouse or a family member) will give you logical reasons why you should or should not hold on to this thing.

Hold on only to a few mementoes that remind you about a particular joyful period. Find a good way to display them where they don’t obstruct your living space or devote only one closet to all your mementoes. Whatever you can’t fit in that closet has to find another home.

2. Dreams and goals.

As years pass we grow and change. Your goals and dreams should grow and change with you.

Can you imagine if all of us held on to the dreams that we had when we were 6-7 years old? Who did you want to be back then? I wanted to be a teacher, not because I wanted to teach others but because I liked to grade papers (in my mind, grading papers with red ink was THE coolest thing in the world.)

At each stage of our life we are allowed to have different dreams and goals. As we mature we can let some of our dreams “retire” because we discover goals that are more important to us. Letting go of a dream doesn’t mean that you have failed at reaching it. It means that you have cleared space for a more meaningful and mature goal in your life.

Hold on to the dreams and goals that are authentic and that represent who you. Let go of the ones that you don’t feel so strong about anymore and always create new ones.

3. Expectations.

One of the worst things in life is always trying to meet somebody’s expectations.

If you are always trying to reach the approval of others then you will never be able to live peacefully. None of us is perfect in the eyes of the others. None of us is perfect, period. The only way that we can be successful and perfect is if we set our own standards and follow our own road in life.

Of course, hold on to some social norms and politeness and also consider the feelings and wellbeing of the people you love. Being authentic and true to yourself doesn’t mean becoming selfish or thoughtless.

4. Bad habits.

Is there any reason to keep bad habits in your life? Constant improvement is a sure sign of a balanced and happy person. A lot of times letting go of a habit is difficult. That’s why so many of us (me included) fail at this goal.

The only way that you can change your lifestyle is to plant a firm decision into your head. You are not doing it for someone else, you are not doing it because you are expected to. You are doing it because you want to live the best life and you care about the people around you who might be suffering from your bad habit.

Choose one habit that you want to work with and “prepay” 20% of your success. It’s a marketing strategy that works great for attracting customers as well as tricking your brain into starting a transformation.

If you want to lose some weight what would you much rather do—get on a strict diet or stop eating sweets after lunch? Unless you are a disciplinary freak of nature you would choose not eating sweets after lunch. By doing that for a week you have “prepaid” for your success.  Next week it will be easier for you to start cutting your portions or move from an egg and bacon biscuit for breakfast to some healthy oatmeal.

Hold on to some of your habits (for right now). One of the main reasons why people fail at transforming their bad habits is because they do too much too fast. Choose just one habit and work on it until you have succeeded.

5. Memories and experiences.

Our brain is hard-wired into noticing and holding on to negative events five times more effectively than positive ones. This phenomenon is called “negativity bias.” It’s the reason why we keep dwelling on a negative conversation with a colleague at work instead of noticing the roses bloom outside.

The only way to fight this built-in negativity is to focus on positive events and make sure that your brain remembers them as vividly as it does negative ones.

Hold on to your positive memories by writing them down. A recent study published in Psychology Today suggested that it takes 5 positive events to outweigh one negative one in your life. Whenever you start feeling the attack of negative thoughts think of as many positive events of the day as possible.

Focus on the joys of present day and stop dwelling in the past.

6. People.

Sometimes we have to make a decision to let go of people in our lives.

It’s in your best interests to let go of difficult and negative people, those who constantly bring you down or undermine your efforts to improve your lifestyle. If they are unwilling to understand your current goals then you are better off without them.

If you are not able to let go then you might want to minimize the time that you spend with them.

Hold on to your close friends, your confidants. Whether it is your spouse, your family member or a friend please make it a priority to spend time with them, to share your joys, ask for advice, and have fun together. It will make you happier and more positive and it can even improve your health.

Letting go is not as hard as it seems. Every little thing that you let go of today makes room for something new and amazing in your life. A life of genuine balance and peace starts when you learn to let go without regret and hold on with gratitude.

Photo by H.Koppdelaney

Avatar of Anastasiya Goers

About Anastasiya Goers

Anastasiya is the founder of Balance In Me – the Life Balance Portal where she helps people find their personal life balance with practical tips, genuine support and everyday inspiration.  Click here to read 100 Ways to Make Your Life More Balanced Today.

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  • Pratap19901990

    excellent moral to life thanksAnastasiya Goers

  • http://webdesign.marvic.biz/ Victoria Koning

    Wonderful tips, thank you. The “negativity bias” explains a lot about our society and the way we interact with each other – right down to the news we find interesting.

  • Sonia

    Thank you for writing this post Anastasiya Goers. I completely relate to you when you say “Of course, on the other hand if you throw away everything you love and enjoy, then suddenly you lose your personality.” and when you say “Frankly speaking, you cease to know yourself then.”. I have also moved from one country to another, and then back to the first one (not my wish) and it’s really hard sometimes to keep knowing yourself. Some feeling of being lost … But like you, I choose to let go to live in peace and balance. And I enjoy it very much.

  • Divadog39

    This is excellent. 
    I’ve recently broken off a 9 year relationship and moved back to the USA from Italy. I had to do it. Had to let go of the dream b/c I had to survive and find another goal. That was 4 months ago. I am often plagueg by the negativity bias and have really worked hard to establish a new and improved cognitive behavior..replacing the neg. with the pos. It’s not easy but it is reaffirming to read a piece like this and realize that this is the struggle we must overcome in order to move on..

  • Enderies

    This is really amazing.
    this post has been really helping me now. you helped me think positive today.
    before I read it, I was down… and than after reading it I became to think more positivly.
    really thanks. I really appriciate it.

  • Hope

    I  love your post! Clear and absolutely true! Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :)

  • ‘J.A.’

    That’s also, what I often feel, whyever God is Who to ‘testify’ to being happy to treat me like any relevant part of Its ‘Famous’ Life, A Self Falsification that IT calls Its ‘Hobby,’ one that Its Lawyer Gerry Spence has not yet convinced me that I can count on to exist as any ‘relevant’ case, mine, just worth mentioning to You All, so that I can of course become & believe in & so on, which after all &, however, depends on, why & when my labor situation exists as mine own choice, & especially, what then happens, greetings, ‘J.A.,’ guitartie@yahoo.ie.

  • http://www.wiseatwork.net Susie @ Wise At Work

    Thank you Anastasiya for your thoughtful post. I really liked #5 as I am trying to shake my negativity bias (especially during the holiday season :^). Sometimes it really does feel like it’s just a part of my neural pathways and it gets frustrating to be caught in it.  Your suggestion of writing down positive memories is a terrific one for me — because ironically, I have loads of them!

    Blessings and many thanks.

  • Tinarose29

    Amazing article Anastasiya, I’m currently dealing with number 6, its being so hard for me to let go of someone because they are really close to me but they are very toxic to my life, hopefully I will find closure. I must say though that after reading your article I am closer to an aswer that will make me happy….

  • Yi Lin T

    absolutely loved this! Thank you :)

  • http://www.balanceinme.com Anastasiya

    People are always difficult to let go of. No matter how logical it might seem to get rid of a toxic person in your life it’s still never easy emotionally. Time s your best companion in this matter. At first it will be painful but as the months and years pass you will feel the relief that you are looking for. The main thing is not to feel bad about letting go of this person. They live their life and you need to live yours.

  • http://www.balanceinme.com Anastasiya

    Getting rid of the negativity bias is just a habit. Once you get used to counting your blessings then it will not be a problem anymore. We all feel a little negative sometimes and it’s absolutely normal. But when you can combat this negativity with positive thoughts and logical reasoning then negativity bias loses its grip on you.

  • http://www.balanceinme.com Anastasiya

    Getting rid of the negativity bias is just a habit. Once you get used to counting your blessings then it will not be a problem anymore. We all feel a little negative sometimes and it’s absolutely normal. But when you can combat this negativity with positive thoughts and logical reasoning then negativity bias loses its grip on you.

  • http://www.balanceinme.com Anastasiya

    You are welcome, Enderies:-)I am glad you enjoyed it.

  • http://www.balanceinme.com Anastasiya

    There is a reason for everything in our lives. If something didn’t work out it just means that there is something better waiting for you. I know it’s hard to believe in sometimes but it’s the only hope that keeps me going when things don’t work out the way I hoped.

  • http://www.balanceinme.com Anastasiya

    I think that when you move between countries it’s always important to get to know people who are going through the same thing or at least lived abroad for a long time. When you live in 2 (or more) countries your view of life changes and you have a much broader idea of what is truly important in life. Sometimes you might feel like an alien (I know I do) but that’s okay, it’s just part of being who you are. Our experiences shape who we are and we choose what parts of those experiences to keep in our memory and in our life.

  • Tinarose29

    Very true and yes I am having toruble with the emotional part of letting go, but I know I will get there, thank you :)

  • Mark

    This is great affirmation of personal work that I’m already engaged in, and your comment about negativity bias is important to me. So I’m training myself to un-attach and let the negativity go (sometimes it needs a nudge) and the result is less stress and more inspiration. Thank you!

    Mark Brewer
    http://markbrewerharpist.com/blog/

  • http://www.jewelocean.com/ draniqa

    well said and well written. balance life is very much important and these tips will surely help.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mhillieann Mia Delos Santos

    Hi! Lori, this is Mia from the Philippines. I always read some life stories in this website and some of  you wrote. I get inspired and I apply some of the tips here. It helps to grow my personality and widen my perception in life. Thank you very much! :)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome Mia. I’m glad you’ve found the site helpful! =) (Incidentally, I didn’t actually write this post. It’s by a wonderfully inspiring writer named Anastasiya Goers.)

  • MC

    Thanks Anastasiya. I’m glad that I stumbled upon this article. I was having quite a depressing day before I read it. You are absolutely right. Too often, many of us focus on all the negativities in our lives and we place so much emphasis on them that we fail to realise the positive circumstances in our lives. I guess that lately, I have been focusing too much of my efforts on trying to solve other people’s problems by immersing myself in them first. This might seem like a good idea to many but sometimes we have to really learn to let go and focus on ourselves. Surrounding yourself with negativity only attracts more negativity. Thanks for allowing me to remember this. I just need to remind myself of this every day!

  • Erwer

    wqeeweqqwe

  • J p Roy

    Points worth considering for a better life ! Tq !

  • PatStarfish

    Some people are so lost they will grab at anything to make thier life better. My friend is into new life services in Fayetteville, AR.

  • paragN12

    Awesome article ..will change my life for sure

  • pg

    Very practical… hope some of tips help me to think differentl. One life …. so many compliants and carry baggage which can be replaced with many things. Tks.

  • sipra

    i dnt know what to do…m really depressed whts going on now a days with me…plz help me to leave me peacefully…

  • tam

    the hardst part is letting go but its worth it to feel like my life is well lived with no regret

  • Scott Lepage

    Monday, November 11th, 2013

    The following is just a simple letter written to my past friends from my whole life. It’s not directed at anyone specifically, nor will it be sent to anyone, and it’s purpose is to help give me closure so that I may move forward in my life. So here it goes.
    I’m saying goodbye to old acquaintances. Some I thought were my friends, some were my friends and some well, just couldn’t be defined as either. I now want to say hello to a new friend (Jesus) all at once but I’m a little more cautious as to how fast we will be close.
    I apologize for my harsh words. But, my dear friends, all your talk about best friends, loyalty and trust are hollow. You know who I am and have seen my actions devoted to these values with us. What I see in you is weakness by ignoring me. I thought you had more courage. You put on a front that appears accommodating, loyal, and yes, even sacrificial. Then, without warning, you disrespect these values, raise your knife, and by the time I see the glint of the blade, it’s almost always too late.
    Give up on your need to blame others for what you have or don’t have, for what you feel or don’t feel. I have. Stop giving your powers away and start taking responsibility for your life and your best friends life. I have. Stop being selfish, revengeful and angry at the world. I have. One thing I’ve learned is the mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly; however, it becomes very destructive. The other thing I’ve learned is that you can’t move on or ahead in life alone. You need someone to show you that behind all the clouds, the sun is still shining. So… I myself, apologize for words said out of frustration in the past. I have no excuse and accept full responsibility for my negative and destructive comments. If I didn’t care I wouldn’t of said anything at all. But to even say that is a testament to my ill thinking back then. It was my way of letting you know you’ve hurt me as well as trying to provoke a response instead of being ignored. Still I have no excuse. You know I love you. I hope you’re safe, doing well and I now , unlike before, wish God look over you. I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite as learning to accept the Lord again myself has been a slow but never failing process. Instead of waiting for Him to come to me I finally understood it’s me who should go to Him. You know it must of been what I needed to do all the time but didn’t see it even when it was right there in front of me. I now will try my best to be conscious of my actions, forgive others as well as myself, learn from trial & error and do more for others than I do for myself.
    I understand that certain opportunities pop up at the last moment and plans you had with someone can be put on the back burner. I’m not judging you but respecting something that I understood about you when we became friends. But ya know, the first few times I was upset, mad, disappointed etc. but then I just got bored. Being alone and without accepting Jesus in my life I was so fed up with people. I’m still on the fence not sure which way I’m going to fall. Team Jesus seems to be ahead by more than a few goals. By a matter of fact the opposition still hasn’t scored. Any way, I would do anything & everything for you my friends but when the time came for you to help me, you suddenly can’t even do the slightest thing… be loyal or trust that I’ll understand. Jesus, I’m told, can.
    Hurtful words can cut deep and for that I am sorry. But the deepest cut isn’t really the hurtful words at all, but rather the lost relationship and love if you choose not to put the past to rest and begin fresh. This I’m sure of. You just have to let it go. I’m willing to do that as I hope you may learn to do as well. You are worth it, our friendships are worth it and we promised each other that when ever one of us falls down ( in this case both of us) that we would be there to help pick each other up. I’m told Jesus will always be there for us. I failed you somehow, otherwise you would of contacted me by now, and for that I’m sorry. I just hope your okay. I want you to know that if I never see you again it will be my loss and will sadden me. I can only wish you a good life ahead and to let you know I’m always here… my door always open. You just have to walk through it.
    I now am going to pick up this book beside me and read about this man they call… Monday, November 11th, 2013

    The following is just a simple letter written to my past friends from my whole life. It’s not directed at anyone specifically, nor will it be sent to anyone, and it’s purpose is to help give me closure so that I may move forward in my life. So here it goes.
    I’m saying goodbye to old acquaintances. Some I thought were my friends, some were my friends and some well, just couldn’t be defined as either. I now want to say hello to a new friend (Jesus) all at once but I’m a little more cautious as to how fast we will be close.
    I apologize for my harsh words. But, my dear friends, all your talk about best friends, loyalty and trust are hollow. You know who I am and have seen my actions devoted to these values with us. What I see in you is weakness by ignoring me. I thought you had more courage. You put on a front that appears accommodating, loyal, and yes, even sacrificial. Then, without warning, you disrespect these values, raise your knife, and by the time I see the glint of the blade, it’s almost always too late.
    Give up on your need to blame others for what you have or don’t have, for what you feel or don’t feel. I have. Stop giving your powers away and start taking responsibility for your life and your best friends life. I have. Stop being selfish, revengeful and angry at the world. I have. One thing I’ve learned is the mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly; however, it becomes very destructive. The other thing I’ve learned is that you can’t move on or ahead in life alone. You need someone to show you that behind all the clouds, the sun is still shining. So… I myself, apologize for words said out of frustration in the past. I have no excuse and accept full responsibility for my negative and destructive comments. If I didn’t care I wouldn’t of said anything at all. But to even say that is a testament to my ill thinking back then. It was my way of letting you know you’ve hurt me as well as trying to provoke a response instead of being ignored. Still I have no excuse. You know I love you. I hope you’re safe, doing well and I now , unlike before, wish God look over you. I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite as learning to accept the Lord again myself has been a slow but never failing process. Instead of waiting for Him to come to me I finally understood it’s me who should go to Him. You know it must of been what I needed to do all the time but didn’t see it even when it was right there in front of me. I now will try my best to be conscious of my actions, forgive others as well as myself, learn from trial & error and do more for others than I do for myself.
    I understand that certain opportunities pop up at the last moment and plans you had with someone can be put on the back burner. I’m not judging you but respecting something that I understood about you when we became friends. But ya know, the first few times I was upset, mad, disappointed etc. but then I just got bored. Being alone and without accepting Jesus in my life I was so fed up with people. I’m still on the fence not sure which way I’m going to fall. Team Jesus seems to be ahead by more than a few goals. By a matter of fact the opposition still hasn’t scored. Any way, I would do anything & everything for you my friends but when the time came for you to help me, you suddenly can’t even do the slightest thing… be loyal or trust that I’ll understand. Jesus, I’m told, can.
    Hurtful words can cut deep and for that I am sorry. But the deepest cut isn’t really the hurtful words at all, but rather the lost relationship and love if you choose not to put the past to rest and begin fresh. This I’m sure of. You just have to let it go. I’m willing to do that as I hope you may learn to do as well. You are worth it, our friendships are worth it and we promised each other that when ever one of us falls down ( in this case both of us) that we would be there to help pick each other up. I’m told Jesus will always be there for us. I failed you somehow, otherwise you would of contacted me by now, and for that I’m sorry. I just hope your okay. I want you to know that if I never see you again it will be my loss and will sadden me. I can only wish you a good life ahead and to let you know I’m always here… my door always open. You just have to walk through it.
    I now am going to pick up this book beside me and read about this man they call… Jesus!

  • Sambeet Mohapatra

    I want to learn the art of controlling one’s emotions and thoughts . The problem is sometimes i feel wandered away and unable to focus . So any suggestions would be helpful ,
    Thanks in advance !

  • Arahantius

    Thank you, this gem is the first I’ve bookmarked in a very long time. Reminded me greatly of the Noble Eightfold path and the 4 noble truths.

  • Guest

    This post really spoke to me especially the part where you mentioned that you had the choice to let go of everything that was no longer relevant and start a new life. Many times, we keep physical clutter, bad habits and people around longer than we should. Perhaps, many of us are afraid to let go and sometimes we bring irrelevant things from the past into the present because they are familiar to us. However, what was best for us in the past isn’t necessarily the best for us in the present. As you have mentioned in the post, we need to leave sufficient room for new things and people so that we can strive to live our best. This may come effortlessly for some people like myself who enjoy seeking new things, challenges and people. Embrace the past but let go of things and people that are not essential right now and live in the present!