One perfect example is when we stay in a bad relationship for very long (bad is quite subjective, but let's assume we have the same definition here). In this situation, we may stay because over time we came to believe that the relationship is a part of who we are. We may believe that we mean something to our partner and the relationship means something to us. So essentially, letting go of a bad relationship is about seeing ourselves for who we want to be and finding a way to create that identity. Because letting go is about change, I always remind my clients that therapy does not always save a relationship and can possibly result in breaking up a relationship.
Another example is when clients want to work on letting go of their past, which may include their mistakes, family, or a traumatic event. Letting go of our past is never about forgetting about our past, but it includes integrating our past with who we are now and want to become. Letting go includes accepting and allowing ourselves to exist without the hurt from the emotional connection we have with the past. Although painful and difficult to do, it is truly reveling when we come to succeed at letting go. This is a poem that has helped me and one that I have used with clients to help them find a way to let go.
To let go does not mean to stop caring, it means I can’t do it for someone else.
To let go is not to cut myself off, it’s the realization I can’t control another.
To let go is not to enable, but allow learning from natural consequences.
To let go is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands.
To let go is not to try to change or blame another, it’s to make the most of myself.
To let go is not to care for, but to care about.
To let go is not to fix, but to be supportive.
To let go is not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being.
To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes, but to allow others to affect their destinies.
To let go is not to be protective, it’s to permit another to face reality.
To let go is not to deny, but to accept.
To let go is not to nag, scold or argue, but instead to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.
To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each day as it comes and cherish myself in it.
To let go is not to criticize or regulate anybody, but to try to become what I dream I can be.
To let go is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the future.