There are certain things it’s impossible not to get attached to.
People. Pets. Dreams.
The idea that you and your celebrity crush would certainly hit it off if you were to meet in real life.
Others, however, are best abandoned, especially if you’re keen to live a more peaceful, productive life.
Maybe you’re already ahead of the curve.
If you’re not attached to these 10 things, you’ve mastered the art of letting go.
And if you’re still holding on, don’t worry.
It’s never too late to walk away from people or habits that drain your energy.
1) Past mistakes
I’m an overthinker, to the point where I’ll be up at 2 AM wondering whether the supermarket cashier is still upset because I failed to find my debit card in a timely fashion and held up the line as a result.
Don’t be like me.
Obsessing over past mistakes wrecks your self-esteem and boosts your anxiety.
I’m not suggesting you wrong people and not take responsibility for it.
But once you apologize and make amends, let it go.
Even if the person you’ve wronged continues to keep their distance, there’s probably not much you can do about it.
Reflect on what went wrong and whether you can learn anything from the experience.
Then, use the mistake as an opportunity for personal growth and self-improvement.
Messing up is part of being human.
So is learning to forgive yourself.
2) Past successes
Just like holding on to past mistakes can hinder your growth, so can holding on to past successes.
While it’s important to celebrate your achievements, it’s equally essential to seek fresh challenges to keep things interesting.
Otherwise, you become complacent and stop pushing yourself.
Or, you develop a stagnant mindset.
When you feel like you’ve reached a peak, it’s tempting to become skeptical of change and innovation.
After all, you did the work. You reached the goal. Why should you try even harder?
Not to mention the fact that obsessing over your success can make you develop an inflated ego, which will push people away.
Be proud of everything you’ve accomplished so far, but set even bigger goals moving forward.
Change is the only constant in life.
If you’re not currently holding any grudges, you’ve truly mastered the art of letting go.
I had a teacher in high school who was out to get me. Not in a subtle way.
She would mock me whenever she had the chance and ignore me otherwise.
She would fail to recognize when I did something right but call me out in front of everyone when I made a mistake.
I hated her. And I continued to hate her for years after I graduated.
I kept wondering why she would behave like that, especially since I was a kid who did nothing to offend her.
Like my mishap with the cashier, this grudge kept me up at night.
I even devised dumb revenge plans that I would never resort to, just because they were satisfying to think about.
One day, however, I heard that she was sick – and all my pettiness evaporated.
I realized that I was a fully grown adult with a job who was still upset over something that happened in high school.
I let it go, and I felt that much lighter for it.
Hopefully, you can let go of your grudges, too.
They eat you up from the inside.
Being entitled leads to unrealistic expectations about what you deserve.
When reality doesn’t meet those expectations, disappointment ensues.
I’ll say this as gently as possible: the world doesn’t owe you anything.
You might not land your dream job, earn your desired income, or meet your soulmate – especially not in the impossible timeframe you have in mind.
Being born into the “right” kind of family and attending the “right” kind of school gives you an advantage but doesn’t guarantee you’ll live a cushy, stress-free life.
(Just think of the kids on Succession. They had every advantage and were as miserable as a person can be.)
Acting like you deserve privileges you haven’t earned leads to conflict and resentment.
Even when you put in the work and sacrifice and take your time and do everything you are supposed to, the things you want can still slip right between your fingers.
Which brings me to my next point.
Similarly, being overly attached to specific outcomes sets you up for failure.
It’s natural to have goals, aspirations, and hopes for how your life will go.
At the same time, though, it’s crucial to remain flexible and open to different possibilities.
This way, if plan A fails, you can come up with a plan B without falling into a pit of despair.
Plus, having fixed expectations can make you blind to opportunities that don’t align with your preconceived ideas.
You may dismiss unexpected avenues that could lead to personal or professional growth.
Chances fail to present themselves. People let you down. Life occasionally deals you a bad hand.
The sooner you accept this, the more resourceful you become.
6) Other people’s opinions
Caring about what other people think of you robs you of authenticity.
When you seek external validation, you suppress your own beliefs and values to conform to what others expect.
You begin to do what everyone else wants you to – and you might even forget you have a say in your own life.
While it’s normal to be interested in what loved ones think of your choices, their input should not sway you from going after what you want.
Once you learn to distance yourself from other people’s opinions, you can finally embrace who you really are.
7) Toxic relationships
If there’s one thing you should stop being attached to in order to improve your life, it’s toxic relationships.
How can you tell if a relationship is toxic? Easy:
- It emotionally exhausts you
- It isolates you from your friends and family
- It’s characterized by negativity, criticism, or manipulation
- It involves any form of abuse
- It lacks trust
- It erodes your self-esteem
Toxic relationships occur in all sorts of contexts.
They might be romantic in nature but can also be friendships, family relationships, and workplace interactions.
If you feel like a relationship is bringing you pain rather than value, let it go.
At the very least, set clear boundaries for how much you interact with the person in question.
The only people who live in your mind rent-free should be those who support and love you with no strings attached.
If you constantly seek control over every aspect of your life, you’ll experience chronic burnout.
An intense need for control makes it difficult to adapt to unexpected events.
Since life is inherently unpredictable, things don’t always go as planned.
No matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to control the weather, the economy, or traffic, to name only a few.
Additionally, overplanning leaves little room for serendipity and joy.
Whenever I go on vacation, I make a list of all the landmarks I want to visit. But once I’m there, what I like most is to lose myself in the crowds.
Chat with the locals. Stumble upon hidden pubs tourists don’t know about. Accidentally take the wrong bus and discover a gorgeous area of town I had no idea existed.
None of these are things I can plan for.
There are two types of doubt.
The healthy kind encourages you to question assumptions, seek additional information, and make good choices.
And then there’s the unhealthy kind, which paralyzes you with indecision.
Constantly grappling with self-doubt eats up brainpower that could be better used for more productive endeavors. Like going after what you want.
If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?
You’re one in 8 billion.
Even if you mess up, it won’t be the end of the world as we know it.
10) Excessive material possessions
Finally, if you’re not excessively attached to material possessions, you’re likely a master at letting things go.
Everyone has possessions that hold significance to them.
But when the need to accumulate things gets out of hand, both your wallet and mental health suffer.
Material possessions lose their value over time.
Next time you have to choose between buying the latest smartphone and taking a road trip with your friends, go with the latter.
How many of these things are you still clinging to?
To become a better version of yourself, you need to let go of the things that are holding you back.
It’s the only way to make space for the stuff that truly matters.