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How to let go

13 ways to move on from a relationship for good

We’ve all had an ex that we can’t get out of our minds. A harmful friendship we hold on to even though it exhausts us. Or even a family member who is toxic. Why can’t we learn how to let go of someone, even when we know they’re not good for us?

 Holding on is a natural human instinct – and it’s also a critical way that we stop ourselves from reaching our goals. Because ultimately, not letting go of someone you love can harm you: it prevents you from achieving your true potential.

Why is letting go so hard?

Why do we have so much trouble learning how to let go of someone we love? We like to hold on to things, situations and especially people because they fulfill our need for certainty. Certainty is one of the Six Human Needs that drive every decision we make. Letting go and moving on from a relationship often entails a large amount of uncertainty. Even if your relationship has reached its conclusion or one or both of you are unhappy, there is still an amount of certainty there that can make it hard to know when to let go of a relationship.

We may also use the past to justify our decisions. Remember when you were rejected by several potential mates in high school or college? Those instances could make you hold on to a partner – even one who is not good for you – because you are afraid you won’t find anyone else. Those memories justify everything for you. When you’re unable to let go, those memories become a part of your story and work against you.

Sometimes, we truly do not want to let go of someone – but they want to let go of us. Letting go of someone you love is even harder when your feelings for them haven’t changed. Remember that relationships are a place you go to give, not to get. And sometimes the best thing you can give your partner is their freedom. Listen below as Tony works with Dano to help him embrace the power of letting go.

Signs you need to let go of someone

Learning how to let go of someone you love – someone you’ve built a deep connection with and whom you’ve shared your life with – is likely one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do. That’s why so many people break up, but stay in touch, never understanding when to let go of a relationship. If these signs are familiar, it’s time to ask yourself if you need to end it completely:

  • You’re always wondering what could have been
  • You think of the person constantly, or at time when you’d rather not
  • You spend a lot of time reliving memories or looking them up on social media
  • You bring them up often when talking to friends
  • When you’re feeling down, they’re the first person you think to call
  • You make changes to your life or appearance to get them back
  • You feel anxious or even angry when you see the person
  • You blame them or want to get revenge for perceived slights

Letting go of someone you love isn’t easy, but holding on holds you back from the possibility of an extraordinary relationship. To focus your energy on living positively and proactively, you need to learn how to move on. When you do, you’ll find that letting go can have many benefits.

What happens when you let go

Breaking up with a partner or refusing to speak to a family member aren’t the same thing as letting go. You can still feel love, resentment and hostility that affect your decisions – you may feel all three. That means you’re letting them call the shots instead of controlling your own life. And that never leads to happiness and fulfillment.

Learning how to let go of someone you love is the only way you can be the architect of your own life. It’s also one of the most challenging things you’ll ever have to do. Once you overcome that fear, you’ll feel free. You’ll feel relieved. You’ll know that you have the inner strength to conquer anything. And you can begin to forge your own path to fulfillment.

How to let go of someone

Knowing you need to let go and actually letting go are two very different things. These tips will help you discover how to move on once and for all.

1. Recognize when it’s time

Learning when it’s time to let go is often the most difficult part of this process. But in many cases it’s necessary to let go in order to unlock the life you deserve. Though each relationship is different, most find it’s time to end things when the relationship causes them more pain than pleasure or when trust has eroded to the point where the romance cannot be rekindled. Moving on from a relationship becomes easier when you are certain the time has come and that your future happiness depends on a new start.

2. Identify limiting beliefs

Do thoughts like “I could never be alone” or “I’ll never find someone else who loves me” constantly run through your mind? Understand that these are not facts – they are limiting beliefs, and while beliefs have the power to create your world, you have the power to transform them. Replace them with empowering beliefs like, “I am open to what the universe has in store for me” and “I love myself and deserve the best.” You may feel silly at first, but when you use these positive incantations as part of your daily routine, you will see results.

3. Change your story

Your story is what you tell yourself to justify your decisions and is based on your limiting beliefs. For example, you tell yourself you can’t have a successful relationship because of how you grew up. Your parents argued in front of you all the time and eventually divorced. You can’t let go of the belief that all relationships are bound to fail, and this is why you can’t maintain a healthy romantic relationship. You use this past experience to justify your current life state – but you can change your story so that your past empowers you instead of holding you back. Your past is not your future unless you live there.

4. Stop the blame game

Letting go of someone you love doesn’t mean you have to negate the truth, but don’t let it influence your path. It is human nature to point the finger at someone else or a past incident instead of ourselves. This is why you blame your significant other at the end of a relationship or another person for something terrible that happened to you. Yet even when the facts are terrible or heartbreaking, you must let go of the past. Instead, use your experiences as a tool to push you to learn and grow so you can create a healthy relationship with someone else.

5. Embrace the “F” word

Going your separate ways does not have to be an experience filled with anger or judgment. When you recognize that the person is preventing you from growing or achieving your dreams, you can forgive them and also forgive yourself for any pain the separation may cause and wish them the best for the future. Remind yourself that to create space for a new, healthy relationship, you must learn how to let go of the old one. Practicing forgiveness is a chance to grow and live in the mystery of what’s next.

6. Master your emotions

When a relationship ends, it’s common to feel incredible amounts of anger and resentment – especially if you were not the one who decided to end it. Maybe at first you felt righteous about it, like the anger was helping you move forward. However, after some time has passed, you start to see that it’s unhealthy for you, and you’re not sure how to let go of someone you love and move on with your life. 

Negative feelings take a toll on your emotional and physical health – anger is even associated with heart disease – and will affect your future relationships. Recognizing this behavior as unhealthy is the first step in the process of letting go. If you want an answer regarding how to move on, you are already on the right path. The good news is that in the process of learning how to let go, you can also learn how to control your emotions.

your past does not equal your future7. Practice empathy

Learning how to move on from a relationship that once brought you joy can be very difficult. When you’re letting go of someone, it’s helpful to think of both sides of the story. See the situation from their point of view. Look at this person from the same place of compassion and empathy that you did when you were happy together. Yes, your ex may have hurt you, but they likely did not do it out of malice. They felt their needs weren’t being met in your relationship and they decided to take action in order to improve their own emotional state.

8. Adopt an attitude of gratitude

As Tony says, “When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.” That’s why practicing gratitude is the antidote to the sadness and anxiety you feel when you’re learning how to let go of someone. Let go of your expectations and focus on gratitude for what you once shared. This small shift in your perspective will help you realize that life happens for you, not to you. When you’re able to find the lesson in every experience and be grateful for it, you’ll reduce the anger you feel toward the other person and instead appreciate what you gained from the relationship.

9. Talk to someone you trust

Holding your feelings inside only keeps you stuck and can eventually turn into anxiety or even develop into depression. Talk to a supportive friend, a family member or a therapist about how you feel and let them be there for you in your time of need. Talking to someone you trust can also help you recognize an unhealthy relationship and keep you from continuing to go back to that person. Once you commit to learning how to let go of someone, you may even discover other moments and situations you can afford to move on from as well.

10. Stay off social media

Learning how to let go of someone you love becomes much more difficult when you are constantly reminded of them. Though social media is a way to stay in touch with friends and family, it’s the opposite of what you need when you are going through a breakup. Staying off social media while you heal not only prevents you from seeing pictures or posts from your ex, but it will also keep you from seeing other seemingly happy couples, which can make you feel worse about your situation.

11. Take care of yourself

The process of letting go and moving on from a relationship can be stressful and lonely. This is not the time to beat yourself up or ignore your needs. When you practice self-care and take this time to fall in love with yourself, you’ll heal more completely and perhaps be healthier than you were before the relationship even started. Indulge in massages or other relaxing activities, engage in activities that make you happy and focus on finding fulfillment without being part of a couple.

12. Keep busy

Staying in bed all day and avoiding friends and loved ones makes letting go and moving on that much more difficult. Start your day with an empowering morning ritual that includes activities like priming, meditation, yoga or journaling, then get up and get involved. Join groups, volunteer for a new project at work or meet a friend for lunch or drinks. Staying busy will help take your mind off the breakup and allow your wounds to start healing.

13. Take the time to heal

Letting go of someone you love is a process. You won’t learn how to do it overnight, especially if you’ve spent your life holding on to things you loved – even if, deep down, you knew they weren’t right for you. Focusing on moving forward and creating a new story for yourself will help you deal with the inevitable pain that comes after a breakup. It will also help you eliminate blame, develop empowering beliefs to live by and move on with an open heart.

Even if you know how to let go of someone you love and follow all the steps, don’t expect to feel better immediately. Grieving is normal and you need to allow yourself the necessary amount of time to feel your emotions. Treat yourself with compassion and don’t allow anyone to guilt you into “just getting over it.” Though you don’t want to isolate yourself, take some extra time away from social events if you feel you need it and never agree to a date or set-up until you feel you’re really ready – those who don’t give themselves enough time often end up in rebound relationships that are harmful or that prolong the healing process even more.

Learn to let go and move on

Remember that refusing to let go will not bring someone you care about back. Continuing to hold on only hurts your emotional and physical state, keeping you from fully enjoying life. Embrace living in the moment and understand that uncertainty can be beautiful if you look at it from the right perspective.

The key to letting go of someone you love is facing what has happened, accepting that you can’t change it and moving on. Once you’re able to move on and appreciate the growth that came from the relationship, better opportunities will present themselves. You will have successfully learned how to let go of someone you love and can begin writing your new story.

Team Tony

Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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