Fear of letting go: How we learn to be open to new things

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Why do we often find it difficult to let go of things even though they might not benefit us?

Whether it’s a job, an object, a relationship, or a place to live, we often hold on to things even though they are not good for us or are long gone. The fact that we find it difficult to let go of old things and embrace new ones is partly due to the “fear of the consequences.”

Why do we often struggle to abandon old behaviors, things, relationships, or places?
Every loss is painful. We all experienced this at some point as children. No wonder that, as adults, we often have considerable problems letting go.

Fears from childhood or adolescence are often the reason we cannot find a way out of stressful situations or relationships in later years and put off decisions that have been pending for a long time. In many cases, feelings of guilt also play a role, for example, when separating from a partner, which is naturally particularly difficult for many people.

The greater the suffering, the greater the chance of change.

Out of fear of the new and unknown, but also possible frustration and emptiness, we often hold on faithfully and dutifully to a frustrating job and friendships that have long become pointless or an unhappy relationship – sometimes despite years of disappointment and hurt. In many cases, this hesitancy can also be seen in perfectionists who, from experience, want to have everything under control. In addition, there is a certain comfort factor behind a lack of decisiveness: letting go always requires flexibility and a willingness to embrace change.

Why do many people block themselves when it comes to changes in life?
This is primarily due to fear of the consequences. We often find it challenging to make changes because we fear that “everything will only get worse.” Think carefully about what could happen and realize that every change offers opportunities for individual improvement. A willingness to be flexible can also positively affect the future. If I allow myself to gain new life experiences, I will have more experience to help me find the “ideal solution” the next time I decide.

Do we need to learn to be more open to new things?
A more constructive way of thinking, such as that conveyed by a “positive mindset,” is recommended. I gain more trust and confidence through tried-and-tested mental exercises and behavioural patterns. Both are excellent prerequisites for coping better with difficult decisions and life situations.

Once the decision has been made in favor of a new beginning, new perspectives and possibilities quickly open up: Things that have been outdated for a long time and are not good for us are finally thrown overboard. Constructive challenges and experiences bring more variety, balance, and satisfaction to life. Those who cannot let go often suffer considerably from unsatisfactory situations. Headaches and stomach aches are possible symptoms, as are anxiety and panic attacks or mood swings, and even depression.

When it comes to relationships, in particular, many people find it difficult to let go. How can we manage to let go better and faster?
It is certainly helpful to realize whether my ideas match reality. Did the partner meet my ideal expectations? Is the partner in my private life such a dream? Please be honest in your answers and don’t gloss over or idealize anything.

Separations are usually difficult and associated with grief – and you should allow this to happen. Finding closure is often not easy, but it cannot be changed. After all, a relationship always consists of two people, and it is not just one person who regulates closeness or distance. Closeness can only re-emerge if both people are interested in reaching a consensus. Accepting the decision to separate can be the solution rather than the problem.

It is, therefore, not about blame but solutions as to how the difficulties that led to the end of the relationship can be recognized and regulated differently in the future. Your expectations and demands of a partnership play a particularly important role here. If they are conscious and communicate, the other person can act accordingly. The partnership improves quality, reducing frustrations about unfulfilled wishes and needs. Incidentally, this also works in existing relationships.

What are your best tips for letting go better?

Letting go requires careful consideration: first, decide whether and how much energy you want to invest in the change, then make a deliberate decision for or against it. It can help to answer relevant questions such as: What are the advantages and disadvantages of changing jobs, but also what are the advantages and disadvantages of staying put? And what are the personal benefits of accepting the new job?

Even if it is often difficult not to get carried away once you have made a decision, it is still important to keep a cool head: Quick fixes are not a good solution. Never put yourself under pressure when making changes, but approach the whole thing thoughtfully, consciously, and patiently. Equally important: stand behind your decision and be prepared for the consequences.

The routine should not fall by the wayside despite all the changes. Fixed habits can make many things easier and give us a sense of calm and security. The routine also prevents mental overload. My advice: If you are about to make major changes, please don’t rush things. Think carefully about what you want and, if necessary, seek advice and support from good friends and relatives.

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