3 Steps You Need to Take to Let Go

I received this question – on steps to take to let go –  from a reader the other day:

I don’t know what to tell myself to help me with letting go.

My teacher and I became friends and got creative over fun projects and she fed my sad, criticism-destroyed ego with encouragement and support over this time (just a short while after my marriage fell apart).

Unwittingly, I fell in love with her. I  decided to tell her how I feel about her. Not because I had any hopes about having a romantic relationship with her, which is absolutely out of the question, but because I thought it was the right thing to do and I wanted to be honest and transparent with her. She did not take it well.

At first there was some sadness from her end of things, later anger and bitterness…which she did not want to talk about.

It’s been several months. She used to shower me with affection and encouragement but now she won’t even give me a “well done” when it’s due because she maybe thinks I’d take it as something it’s not. It hurts so much. I don’t know what to tell myself to help me let this go and feed my own hungry little heart the things I thought I am getting from her. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

drawing of someone taking steps to let go by releasing balloons(I’ve edited out a few personal details from her question. Also: I will answer this question in a more general way, so that it fits her situation, but also related situations.)

First off, letting go can be tough! But, before worrying about how hard it can be to move on, it’s important to check first if you’ve covered the letting go basics. There are three crucial steps, or phases to move through, to make sure you are giving yourself a real chance to let go.

When you find yourself coming up with reasons why you can’t or don’t want to do any of these steps, then what you have is a control issue: wanting life to always go your way. Which – I’m sorry – I don’t have any solutions for other than to say: life makes no exceptions for any of us, including you. We all get hit by a 4×4 from time to time and none of us ordered it on Amazon.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the steps!


Step 1 of Letting Go: Let Go Physically


This means, if you struggle to process the pain of a failed or turned-sour relationship, for the love of chocolate stop spending time with or in the vicinity of that person.

Yes – but they’re my teacher and I love the class. Find a different teacher. Find a different class. If that fails, find a slightly different class that is not the same, but that is also good*.

(*social distancing due to corona is probably forcing you to not go to any classes right now anyway – and as tough as that is – use it to your advantage to help you let go) 

You can’t expect yourself to let go of pain, if you keep retraumatising yourself by exposing yourself to the source of the pain.

When you’re hurting you need time to heal. It’s like getting over an infection: you wouldn’t try to let go of the infection on the one hand, and at the same time ask sick people to sneeze on you, right? You need time and space away from the “source” of the pain to heal.

Sure, ultimately, you are the source of everything but thinking that way won’t get you to let go, it will just get you to beat yourself up.

This also applies to being facebook friends with people that hurt you, holding on to gift items from people who betrayed you and getting updates via friends of friends about what Hurt My Heart is up to these days. Get rid of it all. Tell other people you don’t want to hear about this person. Unfriend Hurt My Heart on all social channels. Give their gifts and anything that reminds you of them to goodwill.

Physically get rid of it all. Move it out of your life. That’s the first step in letting go. It’s not a matter of “how”, it’s a matter of doing it.

Physically delete their presence from your life.

If for some reason it is not possible to do this permanently, then at least do it for 4 months.

So if Hurt My Heart is your mother in law, or a niece or someone else you have too many other social ties to, then avoid them for several months to give yourself time to heal. Then, when you do run into them again eventually, you will have already moved on significantly.


Step 2 of Letting Go: Emotional Honesty + Feeling Your Feelings


Once the person is physically gone from your life, get really honest with yourself about what you’re feeling and give yourself time to grieve, be mad and feel hurt. This HAS to happen. If you try to bypass feeling the pain then you won’t be able to let go at all.


library membership imageWorrried about feelings that might come up? Not sure how to deal with tough feelings? I get it, nobody teaches how! This course inside the Happy Sensitive Library on Difficult Feelings will help. It’s the result of a lot of my intuitive digging  to understand the root meaning of tough feelings.


Step 3 of Letting Go: Take Your Power Back


When you struggle to let go, it can be like you handed something precious to someone and they stomped on it.

But, what exactly did you hand them?

  • Your self-worth?
  • Your belief in yourself?
  • The sense that you matter?
  • Permission to have fun?

What quality of yours does it feel like Hurt My Heart is keeping hostage?

Get clear on that. Because once you know, you need to start taking steps to free that part of you.

If they were always your cheerleader, then you need to find new sources of cheerleading.

If they told you you were beautiful, then you need to find news ways to feel beautiful.

See what I mean?

Otherwise, you can end up trying to “bind them to a contract”. It’s like once upon a time they signed on a dotted line somewhere, promising to be good to you in a very specific way.

You were really excited about that partnership. It felt really good!

And now they broke their contract!

Except, no contract like that truly existed! It was never their job to do any of these things for you.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. But it does mean that you need to look at any ways you may have been leaving certain things for them to take care of for you.

Sometimes, we make a beautiful friend who cheers us on and then we get lazy. We don’t do our own cheer-leading anymore.

Maybe we did once, but our friend does it so much better, so we leave it to her.

Or we never learned how and instead of learning from our friend how to cheer ourselves on, we decide it’s her job.

We get lazy.

So the third step in letting go (after you have let yourself howl and feel all your feelings) is to see where and how you’ve been lazy.

What is it that you need to start doing for yourself, or find a new solution for?


P.S. Figuring this out on your own can be really tricky. For myself – I use intuitive testing methods to get clear. Because my brain will just spin in circles and plop out cliche responses at best. If you want to talk it through with me to get clear on where you get stuck, set up a Clarity Call with me here.

Or, if you want to start right away with learning new self-supporting steps and practices, get started with the HSP Comfort Kit for a steady drip of Highly Sensitive comfort and self-care tips.

Sometimes life kicks us in the gut and we need some help. Or we are getting help, but that help is, not helpful. (In which case, it may be time to get new help).


Final thoughts on letting go & the reader’s situation


Letting go is tricky. Sometimes people say “I want to let go” but what they really mean is: I want a redo. I want to do back to the way things were.

But that’s not possible.

You can only go forward, not back.

In the reader’s case: telling someone you are in love with them when they don’t feel the same way is very very awkward for the other person. It’s awkward enough to destroy real friendships. And in this case, there is another complicating factor.

You see, being a teacher is a professional role. It’s a role in which you support and give and encourage. When – like the reader – you come out of a situation that destroyed your self-esteem, you’re hungry for support. You develop a yearning for support. This “fits” really nicely with someone who just gives and gives without asking for much in return.

But, when you love getting that support, does that mean you truly love the other as a person? When you feel in love, is it truly love for the other? Or is it a big fiery coctail of emotions that get stirred up because finally you are getting the kind of support you’ve been craving for a lifetime?

True love is a two-way street. It requires truly knowing each other, and supporting each other, as people, not just as teacher and student.

When it’s not true love, but it’s a fiery emotional mix of feeling addicted to what the other person is giving you, well, that can be a complicated thing to hear for the other, because something about it just feels off. In other words, adding more awkwardness to a situation which is already awkward.

Going through the three steps I outlined in this article will help you get more clarity on what is really going on, and if there is a way to salvage this relationship. But chances are, clinging to the relationship (and the class) now, will only make things worse.

In short, there is nothing you can tell yourself to help let go, because letting go is not a thought process! Letting go is a very physical, emotional, and responsibility taking process. It requires real action! Yet the good news is, when you go through the steps, your mind will start letting go too.

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