Holding On to Things Hurts More than Letting Go

Holding on to things, beliefs, and people can harm you. You shouldn’t depend on them and be free instead. You shouldn’t need them and develop emotionally instead.
Holding On to Things Hurts More than Letting Go
Gema Sánchez Cuevas

Written and verified by the psychologist Gema Sánchez Cuevas.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Holding on to things can be very dangerous and harmful. Clinging to the safety of what you know or what you’re used to is relatively easy. The problem is that holding on to something or someone, and think of it as a necessity, can have bad consequences.

Being clingy and surrounding yourself with supposed essentials and beliefs that dictate what you need to be happy is just feeding your ego. You’re enslaving your well-being. Nothing external, not even a person, can give you true happiness.

Likewise, it isn’t good to live in the past. Maybe nostalgia can inspire you and make you better, but reliving memories is still holding on to something. You can’t see it nor touch it, but it exists in your mind and clinging to an idea is dangerous. That’s why holding on to things hurts more than letting go. Think about it.

Holding on to something, a thought, or a person can make you suffer.

Woman not holding on to things.

Creating False Needs

What makes you happy? Think about it. What’s essential for your happiness? A partner? A house? The job of your dreams? Being number 1 or being in the top 5? Maybe having children?

Whatever it is, give yourself a moment to really think about it. Do you really need all of that to be happy? What do you want more? The things, the dreams, the person, or the feeling of having them?

Often, and without you realizing it, you start creating a list of things that are tied to your concept of happiness. You have expectations for your ideal world that you might believe are the real deal. The problem comes when you internalize this so much that you end up believing it.

“When I get a job, I’ll live on my own”, “When I live on my own, I’ll do what I really want to do”, “All this work and effort will pay off and I’ll achieve my dreams”, “I’ll find a partner, and we’ll build a home together, and I’ll be happy”… These are just a few examples.

Thus, what was once a fantasy turns into a reality you want to achieve. You put so much effort into it that, when it doesn’t happen, everything comes crumbling down. Maybe things won’t happen exactly as you want them to happen. You’ll start feeling sick, but keep on craving that ideal of happiness you’ve created in your head.

Now, you’re not only facing your thoughts, the ones that say you’re not valid but also emotions such as anger, rage, disappointment, frustration, bitterness, etc. Unknowingly, and unwillingly, you’ve set your own trap, holding on to a series of false needs.

Travel frees us from holding on to things.

Holding On to Things Can Lead to Suffering

Conditioning your well-being to things, dreams, and people is wrong. No one taught you how not to fall for that, rather the opposite. You’re probably bombarded with ads showing you how you can and should be happy. Just take a look at social media.

Holding on to something or someone and clinging to an idea of how things should be is dangerous. Why? Because nothing lasts forever. Because inflexibility can make you feel stuck, worn, and slaved. Everybody’s changing, you’re not the same person you were seven years ago. I’m sure you’re not. Therefore, ignoring change and holding on to things, ideas, and people will make you unhappy.

This doesn’t mean you should tiptoe your way through life. It also doesn’t mean you’ll stop caring about anything and everybody. Just pay attention to how you relate to others and the things that surround you. Pay attention to how you think about these things. This way, you’ll be capable of identifying when you start turning someone or something into a false need.

Let Go to Get More!

Letting go, saying goodbye. There are many ways to practice detachment, something that liberates you from those false needs and breaks the molds you’ve created to actually be happy.

Letting go involves a process of growth and transformation, which only happens when you learn that nothing lasts forever and that everything changes. It’s about respecting the cycle of life and understanding that some things aren’t meant to be.

Letting go is knowing that thoughts can change and what’s valuable today may not be tomorrow. Cultivate your mind, train it to face those changes, prepare your heart to let go of whoever can’t be with you anymore, and let go of your attachments to any object or situation. This doesn’t mean they’ll stop being important to you but that you don’t need most of these things to be happy. It might be hard to understand at first.

A woman on top of a mountain.

Detachments are a pathway to balance, to be completely free of egoism. It’ll let you work on yourself to really get to know yourself. It’s an act of bravery that’ll allow you to overcome the barriers in your comfort zone and stop being afraid of losing what you’re holding on to.

Letting go is accepting loss as a fundamental part of your life, practicing acceptance, and cultivating a flexible mind and an honest heart. Life is about change, but also movement. Don’t forget that!

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.