It might be hard to believe this, but your inability to let go doesn’t make you less of a human being. Many people will tell you that…
“You need to move on.”
“Life’s too short to dwell on this.”
“You’re better off without it.”
But very few will tell you the truth: letting go is a conscious choice that you have to make; it’s a process and therefore cannot be forced.
But what if there were simple, age-old secrets to help you release that grip and find peace?
Today, we’re going to explore four ancient Taoist ways that can help you let go when you’re holding on too tightly.
And no, you don’t need to be a sage on a mountaintop; these are simple, down-to-earth practices that can bring profound changes to your life.
Have you ever experienced a time in your life when you traveled and packed your bag with items you didn’t actually need? Instead of enhancing your trip, it only made your journey more challenging than it should have been.
Holding onto something too strongly works the same way. It’s like carrying around a heavy backpack full of things that weigh you down. It could be past relationships, grudges, disappointments, or even versions of yourself that no longer exist.
Oftentimes, we also complicate our lives with endless desires and attachments, and we end up disempowering ourselves.
The Taoist philosophy suggests that simplifying your life is like taking out the unnecessary items in your bag so you can journey lightly.
By letting go of these excesses, you can take your power back and tap into the wisdom of your soul. It’s also about embracing the idea that “less is often more”.
By doing so, you’re creating space for what truly matters and opening your heart to new things, people, and opportunities.
2) Do without doing
One of Taoism’s core principles is “Wu Wei,” which translates to “non-action” or “effortless action.”
Sounds a bit paradoxical, right? But it’s all about going with the flow of life instead of constantly pushing against it.
I’m not going to pretend that I’m a master of this principle. To be honest, I myself still struggle with letting go of control. Despite my consistent inner work, I still have the deeply-rooted belief that life is hard; therefore, I need to constantly do something.
Taoism, on the other hand, suggests a different approach. It tells us that sometimes, by doing less, we can actually achieve more.
Think of it as kayaking. When you paddle too hard against the current, you exhaust yourself and make little progress. But when you let go, when you allow the river to carry you, suddenly you’re moving effortlessly, and you cover more ground.
Non-action is like that. It’s not about laziness or indifference; it’s about letting go of unnecessary effort and struggle and trusting that the universe has its own rhythm, and if we align ourselves with it, things tend to fall into place more naturally.
3) Acceptance of change
Taoism often uses the metaphor of water to explain this concept. Water is incredibly simple, yet it’s one of the most powerful forces in nature.
It flows effortlessly and finds its way around obstacles. It’s formless and takes on the shape of whatever container it is in, yet it can wear down the hardest rock over time.
In other words, it adapts. Similarly, we can go with the flow of life by accepting change.
However, being resistant to change is human nature because our minds are wired to anticipate threats. Change can be scary and unpredictable.
But Taoism tells us that change is the essence of life, and if we resist it, we suffer.
Think about your own life. How many times did you cling to something—a job, a relationship, or a situation—long after it was time to let go?
Taoism suggests that by accepting change, we can release the grip on what no longer serves us and make room for new opportunities and experiences.
Accepting change also means letting go of our preconceived notions of how things should be. We often have this fixed idea of how our lives should play out, and when reality doesn’t match it, we suffer.
But by letting go of these expectations and accepting the present moment, we can actually find peace.
4) Nature observation
Taoists believe that nature is our greatest teacher. When we watch a stream flow or observe how trees grow, we see the effortless way in which nature operates.
There’s no rush, no striving, and yet everything gets done. It’s a powerful lesson in letting go of our need to control and micro-manage every aspect of our lives.
Nature also shows us the cyclical nature of life. Seasons change, plants bloom and wither, and animals follow their natural rhythms.
By observing this, we can let go of our attachment to permanence and understand that change is an inherent part of existence.
It also teaches us that we’re all interconnected. When we let go of our ego and realize our interconnectedness with all living beings, we also begin to see that everything has its place and purpose.
That’s why I always make it a habit to immerse myself in nature. When I’m outside and listen to the birds, I can fully be present in the moment. Suddenly, I’m not thinking about the past or worrying about the future.
I’m just in the now, and that’s a powerful form of letting go.
So, whether you’re holding onto past regrets, unfulfilled dreams, or the weight of expectations, remember that you have the power to release them.
The beauty of these teachings is that you don’t need to be a philosopher or a monk to apply these simple principles. You can always start small with the things you’re holding onto too tightly and gradually work your way up.
Remember, it’s not about giving up; it’s knowing when to release your grip so you can gain freedom and inner peace.