The art of letting go: 12 attachments that are holding you back in life

We often talk about the things we need to acquire to find success and happiness in life – be it knowledge, skills, or material possessions. But have you ever wondered about the things we need to let go of?

Indeed, sometimes what stands in our way to a fulfilling life is not what we lack, but what we hold on to.

So today, we’re going to delve into the art of letting go. We’ll identify 12 attachments that might be holding you back and discuss how to release them.

I’m not here to tell you it’ll be easy; it won’t. But I promise it’ll be worth it.

Ready for a lighter, freer life?

Let’s do this.

1) Fear of change

Let’s start with a big one, shall we? Fear of change.

I can still remember the way my heart pounded in my chest when I made the decision to leave my stable corporate job. The thought of leaving the security of a steady paycheck, medical benefits, and the comfort of a routine was terrifying. But deep down, I knew I was meant for more.

It was a tough journey, filled with uncertainty and sleepless nights. But looking back, stepping into the unknown was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It opened up opportunities I never could have imagined.

So, if you’re clinging to your current situation out of fear of what might be on the other side, take a deep breath. Change is scary, but it’s also a breeding ground for growth and opportunity.

2) Living in the past

It’s a common human tendency to cling to the past. We hold onto old memories, past victories and defeats, and even old grudges.

But living in the past can act as an anchor, holding us back from moving forward. It can prevent us from creating new experiences and from learning and growing.

While it’s important to learn from our past, it’s equally crucial to let it go and live in the present.

After all, life is happening right now, not in the yesteryears. So let’s unshackle ourselves from the past and embrace the present moment in all its glory.

3) The need to always be right

In our quest for knowledge and understanding, we often develop an attachment to being right.

This can cause us to close ourselves off to other perspectives and ideas, stunting our personal growth.

Being right all the time isn’t as important as being open-minded and willing to learn.

Sometimes, admitting that we’re wrong can be a powerful step towards growth and understanding.

After all, nobody knows everything, and there’s always room for improvement. Letting go of the need to always be right can open doors to new insights and wisdom.

4) Seeking validation

This one goes hand in hand with the need to always be right, and I’ll admit, it hit close to home.

I used to constantly seek validation from others. Whether it was my work, my appearance, or my choices – I craved approval and affirmation.

But one day, I had a realization. I was giving others the power to dictate how I felt about myself. My self-worth was tied up in their opinions, not my own.

It was a tough habit to break. But once I started focusing on self-validation, on accepting and loving myself just as I am, things began to shift.

Am I perfect? Far from it. But I’m learning that it’s okay. That being authentically me is enough.

5) Negative self-talk

We all have an inner critic. It’s the voice in our head that tells us we’re not good enough, smart enough, or capable enough.

This negative self-talk can be incredibly damaging, holding us back from achieving our full potential.

It’s time to silence this critic.

Instead of focusing on our shortcomings and failures, let’s celebrate our strengths, successes and the progress we’ve made.

Remember, the way we talk to ourselves matters. Let’s choose words of kindness, encouragement and self-love.

6) Toxic relationships

warning signs youre surrounding yourself with toxic people The art of letting go: 12 attachments that are holding you back in life

Relationships should be a source of support, happiness, and growth.

But sometimes, we find ourselves in relationships that drain us emotionally and mentally.

These toxic relationships, be it with friends, family, or partners, can hinder our journey towards self-improvement.

It can be difficult to let go of these relationships, especially if they’ve been a part of our lives for a long time.

But for the sake of our wellbeing, it’s necessary to distance ourselves from negativity and surround ourselves with people who uplift us and help us grow.

7) Obsession with perfection

Perfection is an illusion. No matter how hard we try, we can never be perfect because perfection doesn’t exist.

Yet, many of us are obsessed with the idea of being perfect, constantly striving for something that’s unattainable.

This can lead to unnecessary stress, disappointment, and even mental health issues. Instead of chasing perfection, let’s aim for progress.

Every small step towards our goals, every bit of personal growth, every lesson learned from a mistake – these are the things that truly matter.

Letting go of perfectionism allows us to embrace our journey with all its imperfections, making us more resilient, adaptable and happier in the long run.

8) Holding onto regrets

Life is a series of choices, and not all of them lead us to the outcomes we desire.

We all have things we wish we had done differently. But dwelling on these past regrets does not change the past, nor does it shape our future.

It only robs us of our present joy. It’s time to forgive ourselves for the decisions we’ve made and see them not as mistakes, but as lessons learned.

Remember, each step we’ve taken has shaped us into the person we are today.

Let’s let go of regret and move forward with compassion towards ourselves and a deep understanding that every experience contributes to our growth.

9) Comparing ourselves to others

In this age of social media, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others.

We see their highlight reels and measure them against our behind-the-scenes, often feeling inadequate in the process.

But here’s the truth: each of us is walking a unique path, with our own set of challenges and victories.

Your journey cannot be compared to anyone else’s because it’s uniquely yours.

The only comparison that truly matters is between who you are today and who you were yesterday.

Letting go of comparisons allows us to appreciate our individual journey and progress, fostering self-acceptance and self-esteem in the process.

10) Procrastination

We all have tasks we’d rather avoid – things that seem too big, too boring, or too challenging.

Procrastination is the act of delaying these tasks, often leading to stress, guilt, and a backlog of work.

But here’s the thing: the task isn’t going away. The longer we delay, the heavier it weighs on our mind.

Overcoming procrastination means taking action – even if it’s just one small step towards completing the task. It’s about breaking down the task into manageable parts and tackling each part one at a time.

By letting go of procrastination, we free ourselves from unnecessary stress and open up more time for pursuits that truly matter to us.

11) Unforgiveness

Holding onto grudges and resentments can weigh heavily on our hearts. It’s like carrying around a backpack full of stones – it hinders our progress and wears us down.

Unforgiveness is an attachment that can prevent us from moving forward. It keeps us stuck in past hurts, unable to fully embrace the present.

But when we choose to let go, to forgive, we’re not saying that what happened was okay. We’re not forgetting. We are merely choosing to release the hold it has on us, to free ourselves from the pain.

Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. It’s an act of self-love and a step towards healing and peace.

So, if there’s someone you need to forgive (including yourself), consider starting that process today. Your heart will thank you for it.

12) Material possessions

Lastly, but perhaps the most important attachment to consider detaching is material possessions.

In a world where consumerism is often equated with happiness, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that more is better.

The latest smartphone, the biggest house, the most expensive car – we’re constantly told that these are the hallmarks of success.

Yet, did you know that beyond a certain point, acquiring more material possessions doesn’t actually increase our happiness? In fact, it often adds to our stress levels as we struggle to maintain, protect and manage these possessions.

Material objects are transient. They can be lost, stolen, or damaged. Basing our happiness on something so impermanent is like building a castle on sand.

So instead of clinging to material possessions, let go of the need for more. Understand that true happiness comes from within, not from what you own.

Focus on cultivating inner wealth – qualities like kindness, compassion, and gratitude – these are the treasures that truly enrich our lives.

Last words

Letting go is more than just a psychological concept; it’s a profound journey of self-discovery and personal growth. It’s about releasing the grip on things that no longer serve us, making space for new experiences, opportunities, and perspectives to enter our lives.

Yet, the art of letting go isn’t always easy. It requires courage, patience, and a fair bit of introspection.

So as you embark on this journey of letting go, be gentle with yourself. Celebrate your small victories and don’t be discouraged by setbacks.

Remember that every step you take towards releasing what holds you back is a step closer to freedom, growth, and inner peace.

Picture of Nguyet Yen Tran

Nguyet Yen Tran

Yen is a freelance writer and a researcher specializing in mental health, self-awareness, and psychology. Her hobby is studying human behavior throughout their reaction upon situations. Be sure to check out her other posts on our blog.

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