Once you’ve made a connection with someone, whether it be one date or years of dating, letting go can feel impossible. To understand why letting go of people is so hard, we need to understand our own minds.
Moving on from something that felt so important to you doesn’t feel right. Friendships, relationships, and even brief bonding can ingrain themselves in you so deeply that you don’t want to let go, even when you know you should.
Letting go of people hurts. It’s a form of loss or rather a part of it. Figuring out how to navigate that while facing all the feelings that go along with it is brutal.
There are so many reasons we struggle to let go of people. It can seem so practical to move forward, but it just isn’t that simple. But, by figuring out why letting go of people is so hard for you, you can do it.
[Read: 10 important questions you need to ask yourself before deciding to leave someone]
Letting go of people is hard
If you’ve ever moved away from friends or had a breakup, you know how hard it is to let go of people. People matter. Think about it. It can be hard to let go of an old sweater that has a stain and doesn’t fit you anymore. So, it only makes sense that letting go of people would be so much worse.
The emotional attachments we make stay with us even after the physical closeness has gone. This is why it is so hard to move on even when you haven’t seen someone in weeks or months.
The memories and impact don’t just cease because the label of a relationship ends.
[Read: Is it time to let go? 14 reasons why even good relationships end]
Why is letting go of people so hard?
You can convince yourself over and over again that letting go of someone is the right thing to do. You can understand it and make sense of it. Letting go of people makes sense for you to move forward.
But, with that, letting go of people is still so hard. Why?
#1 Fear of change. Letting go of people, especially someone you are close with and is in your daily life can feel like such a shock. The change in your routine can be enough to cause you to stay hung up even after a relationship ends.
Maintaining the feelings you had, although painful, can bring you comfort when everything else has changed.
[Read: How to stop self-destructive behavior and change your life for good]
#2 The past. Something as traumatic as a breakup can cause feelings from the past to resurface. What this does is turns the current situation into a reliving of the first time you were hurt. Instead of letting go of people, you may cling to them due to your past.
The resurgence of old feelings bubbling up along with trying to let go of someone now can certainly lead to an immense struggle to let them go.
#3 Loneliness. The fear of being alone is more powerful than you might realize. When we are faced with the possibility of loneliness, we may choose someone who is bad for us just to avoid being alone.
We cling to the wrong people or people from our pasts just to have a glimmer of connection. [Read: How to get over your fear of being alone and find peace]
#4 Self-esteem. When we build our self-esteem on the success of our relationships or the love from someone else, letting go of that person can be truly devastating. Not only do you feel the rejection and pain of the end of a relationship but you blame yourself.
You put all your hope and faith into that person and depended on them. Now letting go of that person feels like the last thing you’re capable of. [Read: Emotional dependency – How to know if you’re overly dependent on someone]
#5 Hope. The hope for that chapter of your life to reopen can keep you clinging to someone. Letting go of people when you still want to be with them feels wrong. You want the possibility to reconnect and that hope is what keeps you from letting go.
#6 Failure. By not letting go of people, you are in a sense, in denial. If you don’t let go of them then maybe it isn’t over. Maybe things don’t have to change. Maybe you weren’t rejected. Accepting that you have to let go of someone is in a way, accepting failure.
When you expect a fairytale and a happy ending and that isn’t how it turns out, holding onto that person instead of moving on can make you feel like you didn’t fail.
#7 Love. Love conquers all. Or does it? Love that is strong enough can keep you from letting of people. When a friend asks why you can’t let go of your past relationship, a common answer is, “I love him/her.”
That love can absorb you. That love feels like it takes over your whole life and letting go of that seems not just impossible but far too painful to even consider. [Read: How to unlove someone and do the impossible faster]
Letting go of people is possible
Based on all of these, it certainly sounds like letting go of people is impossible, the thing is, it isn’t. If you can identify why you struggle to let go of people, you can work on it.
Realizing that you’re not letting go due to something external like your past or fear of failure lets you focus on that. You can work through what is truly holding you back rather than the person you can’t let go of.
Think about how holding on is altering your life negatively. Are you losing focus? Are you struggling to continue fully living your life? Do you feel like your mind is occupied by the person or people you can’t let go of? [Read: How to know if you’re unhealthily addicted to someone who’s bad for you]
I know that convincing yourself of the practical elements of letting people go can seem minor when compared to the emotional toll, but it is the first step in overcoming what has been weighing you down.
You can look at the positives of the relationship you had. You can appreciate the memories. You can even be thankful for how it changed you or made you who you are.
You can have all of that while still letting them go. You can’t change the past. You can’t change the truth. But you can change how you are reacting to it. You can learn to let go.
You can distance yourself from their hold on you, in the present. You can focus on yourself and your growth. You can use your time to plan for your future. You can survive without holding onto people, what they meant to you or what you had together.
[Read: 15 very effective rules to forget someone you once really cared about]
Life can go on and will, whether you go on with it or not. Learning what it’s like letting go of people is what will define your future happiness.
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