Is Holding on Holding You Back? 4 Tips to Let Go and Find Freedom

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Is Holding on Holding You Back? 4 Tips to Let Go and Find Freedom

Adapted from Monica and Michael Berg’s Spiritually Hungry podcast. Listen and subscribe here.
September 11, 2023
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Bob Newhart has a famous Mad TV skit where he acts as a therapist to a patient with various psychological struggles. As she describes the issues she’s been working through (ranging from claustrophobia to bulimia), his advice each time is simply, “Stop it!” While the skit is hilarious, it mirrors the type of feedback we often hear when faced with our own challenges. 

You’ve likely had someone tell you to “just let it go” or “move on” when working through hurt, upset, or anger. Although we know deep down the answer is ultimately to “stop it,” that advice can sound harsh and dismissive, especially when we are going through the difficult emotions of stress, anxiety, or fear. It’s overly simplified and not actionable. Luckily, the wisdom of Kabbalah provides us with useful tools to help us let go of the negative thoughts and emotions that hold us back. 

Here are 4 tips to help you let go and find freedom in surrender: 

1. Explore why you are holding on in the first place. 
Before you can let go of things like hurt or resentment, it’s important to first ask yourself why you are holding onto them. Taking time to pause and explore this question without judgment can be enlightening. Often there is a subconscious part of us that thinks we need to hold on to pain or anger so that we know who we can trust so we don’t fall victim to hurt in the future.  

Scientifically, our brains are designed for survival, not necessarily happiness. The things that cause us stress, anxiety, and phobias are interpreted by our minds as real threats to our well-being. We hold onto them because we subconsciously believe it is to protect us. The reality is that there is little benefit to holding on to these emotions. Taking time to reflect on why you are holding on and how little you have to gain from doing so can give yourself permission to let go. 

2. Recognize your natural bias towards believing negative things over positive ones. 
Imagine a contractor was working on your house and said they found buried treasure beneath your foundation. You’d probably be skeptical and have a lot of questions before believing it. But if they instead said they found termites, chances are you would be quicker to accept it. 

Our brains need far less evidence to believe bad things than good things. This is called negativity bias. We tend to hold on to and pay more attention to the negative feedback we receive rather than the positive. A word of criticism affects us more deeply than a shower of praise. It’s how our brains are wired, but we have the power to change it. Understanding this natural habit can help you notice it, resist it, and ultimately transform it. 

3. Practice repetitive positive thinking to help change your thought patterns.
Thoughts are hard to change, but it is possible with effort and work. Neuroscientists have shown that we strengthen whichever neuropathways we use the most often. This means if you are a person who consistently thinks negatively, it gets much more difficult to change that behavior as the years go on. The more you stay in that state of mind, the more it starts to feel like an impossible hurdle to overcome. 

On the other hand, consistent positive thinking can retrain your brain and actually change your thought patterns. Letting go is a practice we must do repeatedly over time and become accustomed to, like strengthening a muscle. It’s a superpower we can develop. Practice letting go with the small things, and over time it will become easier when the challenges get larger.  

4. Trust the process of life. 
When we aren’t able to let go, we prevent the Light of the Creator from entering our lives in both small and great ways. By holding on to anger, hurt, or resentment, what we are really saying is that we don’t believe there is a greater plan or force at work. It’s failing to trust in the process of life. That consciousness stops the Light from entering the situation and limits the amount of joy and blessings we can receive from it. 

Remind yourself that the Creator has positive intentions and plans for you always. Things might not always turn out the way you intended, and they certainly will not always be easy, but trust that they are always for your greatest good. Remember the times when you were afraid and unsure, but things turned out ok in the end? You weren’t alone - the Creator was with you all along. 

Have faith in the Creator in every step of your life, especially the scary parts. Trust yourself, trust the Creator, and trust the process of life.

Letting go is really about finding freedom. It is freedom to not care what others think of you and to live as your authentic self. But letting go is much easier said than done. We sometimes wish we could just “stop it!” but struggle to follow that advice. It takes introspection, effort, and certainty in the Creator to change our thoughts and behaviors. By becoming a radical surrenderer, you will open yourself up to joy and blessings that are far greater than you can even imagine.

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