How do we let go?

I seem to be prone to this issue of not being able to “let things go”.

It might be a case with an ex with whom things ended with on a less than happy note, yet I still have imaginary arguments with, or it might be a work issue that bothers me. Some of these things can last (in my head) for years at a time! I’ve had friends point out that I have a sensitive nature.

With all of these I find the same “discussions” going round in my head, like I’m thinking up every possible confrontation and working out every counter-argument so as to have them ready up my sleeve. I can’t risk forgetting something “good” to say, so I perpetually rehearse it. I don’t seek to do this, it just happens, like I can’t stop myself.

This all sounds quite ridiculous as I type it, and I laugh at myself, but it’s honestly true.

Thankfully I tend to avoid people I have issues with and feel there is no benefit to confrontation, so I’m not the sort of ex that keeps bringing up the same stuff, but perhaps that doesn’t help me not lose sleep over something.

I’ve been bothered lately, not because of an ex because I’m pretty much over those and I’ve avoided acquiring any more! But very occasionally (and thankfully rarely) I might get someone work-related on my case who causes me some bother and worry.

I could likely relate all of those past examples, but I’m going to avoid delving into that mental black hole (I’ve done that before and I don’t think it helps). I have had however, someone on my case for a couple of months now regarding a work issue which as far as I’m concerned was resolved way back then and so I’ve been avoiding listening to their messages, for which they’ve left numerous. If I’m the sort of person that avoids bothering their ex, I’m pretty sure this person would hassle their ex to the grave, because that’s what it feels like! I shouldn’t joke about it, but I can empathise with the issue of not being able to “let it go”. You give them the house and the kids, yet they’re still after you!

That may have been the reason for more restlessness tonight, but then I had another; an e-mail from an un-happy customer, which out of principal I would not  reply to until Monday; gotta love receiving such things after 5pm on a Friday so I have to chew over it during the weekend (this is partly why I’m blogging about it; sorry about that)! I’m also trying to give myself a break over Christmas and not have stress to deal with.

I try my best for everyone I do work for, but sometimes that’s not good enough and there are issues that are beyond my control; sometimes what I’ve charged is questioned, particularly if they’re not happy with the result, which is difficult to not take personally, especially while I quietly scrape in less than minimum wage. Often it’s not appreciated what work has been involved because that goes unseen: “Collects laptop, repairs laptop, returns laptop” doesn’t really go into details like the hassle involved in sourcing the parts required, receiving wrong/faulty parts and the delays and extra work that causes, problems with the work itself or other jobs that had to be juggled to get things back in a reasonable time. An invoice would end up sounding like a complaint and I really don’t think I like complaining!

I’m thankful these issues (unhappy clients), in the grand scheme of the years I’ve been working for myself, are few and far between, and when they do arise I try my best to focus on all of the happy customers I’ve done work for; it’s just difficult not to let one, or now two, issues blacken the whole world.

So to perhaps answer the question: “How do we let go?”

  • Talk about it;
    • Talk to friends or family, or record it.
  • Write about it;
    • Blog about it or write it in a diary.
    • Write it in a letter to be disposed of, to yourself, or to the other person involved. Propose solutions.
  • Avoid it; (not always ideal)
    • Find distraction, such as through something constructive and creative.
  • If frustrated and angered; go for a run or bike ride, or a shout in the woods! (Be careful not to exhaust yourself).
  • Breathe, yoga, meditation.
  • Avoid the repeating cycles, such as the same conversations.

How do you let go? Or do you not have these issues?


  1. I’m like that too and have come to accept that these thoughts have to play themselves out. Going for a bike ride etc just puts it off. I laughed recently reading a piece by Hadley Freeman in the Guardian writing about waking up in the night and not being able to go back to sleep. Among the reasons she mentioned was “that faux-pas I made fourteen years ago”. I know exactly what she means.

    • I think early on in my life of experiencing these things I could go for a short ride and was over whatever was on my mind by the time I got back. But I remember one particular ride where that didn’t work, and since then issues have been more deep-rooted than I could “ride” away from. I remember in my teens trying to “run away” from something bothering me, and I just got myself out of breath half-way up the road!
      How do you let things “play out” if you can’t, say, argue it out? I think time can heal all wounds, but sometimes that’s a long and slow process!
      Thankfully I don’t have sleep issues whereby I would wake in the night, but I’m sure things play on my mind throughout and leave me not as rested as I would like to be.

  2. I have issues with that too. I am now trying to allow myself to think as much as I need and in time, it usually naturally gets less. If i try not think, I end up thinking more.

  3. Termination. Resolve the conflict as best as possible, even to the point of self-sacrifice, and then termination of the relationship or association. That is of course the conflict is irreconcilable. But only you can determine that.

    You never fully extinguish second guessing and reworking the past. I can’t at least. But a Stoic’s thoughts that in the end nothing survives always gives me solace. Just wait 100 years, then it’ll all be good. A million, even better.

  4. You’re not alone Brian my I have trouble not obsessing over things. My current practice when people are unhappy with me is to stand in tadasana with the heels sinking into the floor and feel grounded. I think of the saying ‘give me one firm place to stand and I can change the world’

  5. A combination of methods is best. If you are overwhelmed meditation or yoga is not advised. A walk or talking can help. It can take a whole life to figure out what is best for a given situation.

  6. I also have similar issues. I keep replaying the incidents (most of which occurred years ago) in my mind, talking it through several times with myself. At some point, I say “Enough! Can’t change the past.” And end the “conversation”. It may crop up again, but I give it much less discussion time.

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