8 Reasons Why Letting Go Can Be Extra Hard for HSPs

by Caroline van Kimmenade

How often have people told you to just let go? It’s annoying right? Letting go isn’t all that straightforward. Here’s 8 reasons why letting go can be especially tricky for us HSPs.

1. A sense of “things shouldn’t be this way”.

You’re right that they shouldn’t.  Yet, is your sense of indignation keeping you from accepting that -so far- they are this way?

It’s only when you can fully see and feel things for what they are, that you gain the insight necessary to not have them be this way in the future (within limits, of course).

We HSPs often have a strong sense of justice. Know that this helps us create better situations.



When the sense of injustice is overwhelming, trust that there is a reason why this happened to you. One day, you’ll be able to see the true “gift” amidst the mess. Until then, you’ll need to trust that a divine and supportive logic is at work here.

2. It’s not just “your stuff” that needs letting go of.

If you’re an empath, then your own experiences (feelings, thoughts, response patterns) will tend to be enmeshed with those of other people. This can make letting go incredibly hard. A different process is needed for letting go of our own stuff as opposed to letting go of others people’s stuff. (take a look at the empath programme if you want specific “learn it once and for all” help with that)

3. A sense of guilt.

When we deeply believe that we somehow deserve painful experiences then it will be very hard to let go. The solution then lies in working with the underlying guilt itself. This guilt is often rooted in our inner logic around “why bad stuff happens” (read more about that here).

4. Trouble identifying the core issue.

It can be hard to track down those places where something hurt us the most. Our story about what we believe happened to us can get in the way of finding out what actually happened to us. Insights usually come in steps. If you can’t seem to let go and you think you know exactly how things affected you, then allow yourself to go deeper. Ask: what is the unfamiliar pain underneath the familiar pain? A good way to do this is to notice where you feel the pain of the experience in your body. Then put your hands on that area and ask questions, allowing yourself to uncover and experience what is underneath. If you’re afraid to do this on your own then ask a coach or healer/therapist to help you (that’s what they’re for!).

5. Avoiding your own “darkside”

When you find yourself stuck in a state of victimhood, then there could be a sense of wanting to make others wrong because something about what they did is something that you recognize in you. By keeping your focus on what THEY did, you can avoid any feelings about how perhaps your own actions aren’t perfectly enlightened either. If this rings a bell then ask yourself whether maybe, there is something about the offender that reminds you of yourself. It could be the similarity that scares you. If what they did is obviously wrong, then are we ourselves wrong too somehow?
When we probe deeply, things are often not as clear-cut as we’d like. When we can stay out of guilt and blame then it becomes possible to understand how things work, as opposed to trying to completely separate the “good guys” from the “bad guys”. In the end, bad guys are just people with a lot of fear and rage and hatred who somehow lack the inner compassion to relate to others. This doesn’t make what they do “ok”. It does mean that there will be aspects of who they are that we can relate to. We all experience rage and hatred and fear. This doesn’t make us bad people.

6. Wanting all the answers.

Sometimes, our brain keeps coming back to the issue because something about it doesn’t make sense. If this is the case, get clear about the question that you want answered. It’s often the “hidden”questions that keep us stuck. When we don’t know what we’re looking for, then we won’t find it. Yet if the urge for answers is strong enough, we’ll keep looking. So, ask yourself what you want to know most. What are you trying to work out and understand? A great way to get clarity is to talk to someone about it or do some journaling about it. The act of talking or writing itself often creates a new sense of clarity about what is really at stake.

7. A lingering heart connection

A times our heart has trouble letting go. Somehow, we are still energetically connected to the painful situation and the people involved. If this is the case, then get help with “cutting cords”.  Letting go is much more than a mental decision, it is a whole-body process. For us HSPs especially, there can be a strong discrepancy between rationally knowing that we ‘should’ just let it go and emotionally feeling unable to. A part of us (that is hard for us to clearly identify) still feels affected. This is when it helps to have a healer look at and work through the issue with you.  (this is different from psychotherapy!)

8. The problem has hidden benefits.

Sometimes, we may not want to let go of feeling hurt, because people are extra nice to us when we talk about our pain. If this is the situation, then find other ways to get those compassionate attention needs met first. Know that, someone who truly cares for you will give you compassionate attention when you’re not hurting too.

Closing Thoughts

Whatever the reason may or may not be. Allow yourself to draw your own conclusions about what is going on. Don’t let people tell you that you “should” just be able to let it go when you can’t. Trust that when you can’t let go, there is something that you still need to look into. As HSPs we tend to be very precise about certain things. We feel all the subtle ways in which something still impacts us. Often, non-HSPs are STILL impacted by things they thought they let go of long ago. It takes a certain sensitivity to notice the lingering connections.

Also note that while “letting go” is often defined as a getting rid of, it is actually a complete acceptance of  letting things be what they are and do what they do. When we can’t let go, we’re actually struggling with the reality of the situation somehow. It may be because we are afraid of what we’re seeing, or because we don’t have the full picture yet. Sometimes a kind of intervention is needed to disconnect us from a situation. The starting point however is always: what is really going on?

So start there. Start examining what is going on. The letting go is mostly a by-product of that full-disclosure. Oh and all that stuff about “it’s all in the past”? It’s not. If you haven’t let it go yet, then it’s still happening, right here, right now. It’s not about the situation or the people themselves, it’s about the imprint they left in you. That’s what’s keeping the old experience current. That’s also where the full disclosure needs to happen.


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1 Kathy August 27, 2013

Just looking for ways to deal with my hsp-ness and be happy and productive

2 Bobbie December 21, 2013

Caroline, I’m so grateful for your blog. Each time I read one of your posts, I feel like a load was taken off. You ROCK!!! =D

3 Caroline van Kimmenade December 26, 2013

That’s fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing that Bobbie :)

4 Linda February 18, 2014

I guess I am a highly sensitive person cuz I can easily relate to your writings and was married to a narcistic man. Even though I know I should be grateful he left me, I still have feelings for him. I must be crazy.

5 Caroline van Kimmenade February 19, 2014

Hi Linda, Still having feelings for him is just indicative of the underlying attraction pattern. Unhealthy attraction patterns are usually formed in childhood, to bond with a parent who was perhaps agressive, emotionally distant, overly critical or absorbed in their own drama. We recreate the painful dynamic in our romantic relationships, unless we do the work to dig down to the childhood roots and heal our own wounds. It’s not crazy, it’s just human psychology. It’s helpful to read up on trauma bonding and stockholm syndrome to put the seeming craziness into perspective. There is a whole collection of articles on this topic here

6 Diane February 24, 2014

Will you tell me how I can learn more about #2 above? This is a challenge for me. Just when I get a grip on my own feelings and try to stand up for myself, I empathize and imagine what the other person must be going through, which often causes me to put aside my needs (again) and act as peacemaker to make everything all better. Then he’s happy and I’m back at square one in no time. I seem to prefer my own unhappiness over another’s. I’m the opposite of selfish to a fault.

7 Caroline van Kimmenade February 26, 2014

Hi Diane,

From what I’m hearing, you know exactly what to do! Practice staying present with your own perspective, in the same way that you’d practice staying present to your breath during meditation. Every time you get distracted by other things/people, you bring your attention back to what is going on inside of you. The reactions that will come up inside of you, will tempt you to put your attention on the other person instead. Staying present to yourself no matter what is a muscle that can be trained. Doing so also requires letting other people have their own reactions.

It starts with the decision to put your own happiness first – because that’s the only happiness you truly have a say in – despite appearances to the contrary. I don’t think that other people getting their way constitutes true happiness for them, do you?

P.S. Being empathic is not the same as being an empath, more on that here

8 paul November 2, 2014

Artist Louise Bourgois says (in her video interview Tracy Emin on youtube) that she makes pieces of art to deal with everything she wants to let go of , then she is able to move on more easily – I guess this is basically rechanneling the frustration into more positive, productive activities ..

good luck to all of us ..

9 Renee Quiett November 12, 2014

Thanks for that comment, Paul. That makes sense. I need to channel my frustration. Maybe writing in a journal would help me to release some of my issues.

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