Tiny Wisdom: On When to Hold and When to Fold

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

Sometimes it's difficult to know when to keep plowing ahead and when to accept that it's time to move on.

You don't want to give up on someone you love if you can make a positive difference in their life; but sometimes you need to let go and let them learn their own lessons.

You don't want to give up on a dream when you've put your heart and soul into it; but sometimes you need to let go of the outcome you've been fantasizing about to open yourself up to something even better.

I've been in both of these places, and similar ones, many times before. I've wondered what a strong person would do. Or what a brave person would do. Or what a determined person would do. Because that's what it always came down to–what I thought I should do, and what might increase my chances of getting something I wanted.

What I've realized is that there is no should. There is no simple answer. And there aren't any guarantees. You can never know for certain if the day after you stop trying could have been the day everything came together. You can never be sure that if you keep going, you'll eventually get what you're shooting for.

All you can do is know your true intentions, listen to your instincts, and then make the best choice based on what you feel is right. They key is to listen to your instincts. Not what you think you should do, or what you think other people would do, or what you think looks good. But what you know in the still, quiet place within.

Today if you feel conflicted about whether you should hold on or let go, ask yourself: If you cleared away your fears and self-judgments, what choice would you make?

Photo by Frames-of-Mind

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • Anonymous

    that is true. I think that it is hard to let go but sometimes for sanity’s sake it’s for the best. Insightful post.

  • Perfect one for me today!  I’ve actually got two struggles going on in my life.  Looking at the last sentance, I know one I need to let go of and the other I need to hold on to… all judging aside.

    Simple, concie, beautiful.


  • Janice

    Your timing is uncanny. I took myself out for a walk in the woods this morning to ponder this very topic. I”m a first time entrepreneur and have been wondering if I should keep going with my venture.  While I was walking, I came across a spot in the path where a tree and a lot of branches had fallen across the path (like most of the rest of the country, we’ve been having some pretty wild weather in VT lately).  The blowdown was too big to climb over so had to go up and around it.  Thought I’d found the other side of the path so continued on but soon realized what had looked like a path…wasn’t. I looked all around but couldn’t see anything that looked like a path.  I realized I could panic, or I could go back the way I’d come.  But my gut said to go forward – to trust the forest and my innate good sense of direction.  After awhile I came to what looked like a path and followed it until it hit the real path.  As I stepped onto it, I realized I’d found my way both in an actual and a metaphorical sense.  It wasn’t the way I expected, but I was ok, headed in the right direction and I’d had a little adventure along the way.  And all because I trusted my gut which said to keep moving forward…so that’s what I’m going to do with my business too.  This post came as a nice confirmation of my decision.  Thanks!

  • Jean

    I also have two struggles and I think I should let one go and keep plugging away on the other.  This little Buddha message is a good one for me this afternoon.

  • Javelin1975

    Thanks Tiny
    As many others I have a huge decision to make and most days I keep telling myself I will succeed but this week my feelings have been the total opposite and I have struggled to come to a verdict in which way to go. I’m gonna keep going till the wall hits me good and hard, then it’s time to let go 😉

  • Bruce

    Your timing us perfect. But then the universe always brings us what we need. I’ve been struggling with a huge decision I need to take and this post gently reminded me to find that quiet place and embrace the decision without “fear or self judgement”
    Thank you

  • Dave

    Cool story Hansel!