The Ganesh Utsav, held to commemorate Lord Ganesha’s re-birth, has come to an end with Anant Chaturdashi- a time when we bid farewell to our beloved ‘Bappa’. Throughout our lives, we’ve had to let go of numerous things- partners, pets, habits, friends, jobs, houses, even our dreams. It’ll be a fair assumption to say that knowing how to let things go can save us much grief in life. The Buddhist philosophy of de-attachment talks about how one’s entire life is an act of letting go- and who are we to argue with centuries-old wisdom?

We spoke to psychologist, Priyanka Varma (Clinical Psychology, Counselling Psychology, and Psychotherapy), on why we have trouble letting go,” Everyone struggles to let go of relationships, experiences, and things. The struggle with letting go is often a result of the emotions we associate with it. Sometimes, it represents being stuck. Unable to make peace with what happened and more importantly your perception of what happened.” Talking about emotional entanglements, she adds, “It is like being entangled in a spider’s web. To break free from it is to disengage – to acknowledge where you are in the present, and where you want to go and if holding on to that emotion or situation benefits you in anyway.”

As we seek solace in God to cope with the harsh realities of the present, we also seek solace in the past- laden with what we once had. Doused in faith and nostalgia, festivals tend to be a remarkable combination of both. Reflecting upon the seemingly mundane has always done humanity good (remember how gravity was discovered?), so why must we not do the same?

Priyanka shares five ways on how can we practice the art of letting go:

1. Forgive

Holding onto anger, disappointment, and grief has never helped anyone. There are instances where your memory of an incident can be very different from the other person involved. Many times uncontrollable circumstances play a crucial role in how events take place. It is important that we ask for forgiveness and accept that sometimes we will not get the apology we expect from others. Some of us struggle with forgiving ourselves, but we must find a way to be kind to ourselves.

2. Acknowledge the Memory

An easy way to acknowledge is to write a letter about the precise memory which ties you to an object. Write out the memory and emotions associated with it. Memories and emotions are what make the thing meaningful, and now that you have that you can let the physical thing go.  “Once acknowledged, remind yourself that by letting go, you’re creating space to invite something new and positive in your life.”, says Priyanka. 

3. Voice out Negative Emotions

Bottling our negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, grief, anger, etc. might be common practice- but it is a practice that needs to be broken. Avoidance does not work well in the long run; negative emotions can physically manifest and create extra stress in our bodies. We must find an outlet, talking to a loved one, or writing about it, or seeking professional help can give us new insight enabling us to view the situation or experience from a neutral lens.

4. Gift or Donate

Discarding items of emotional value might be difficult for some. Priyanka says, “To let go of something, means you’re letting go of the physical representation of an emotion.  The fear associated with letting go of things associated with positive emotion is that we may never experience it again – but it is only if you let go can you create space for something new.” Gifting or donating such items is a simple way out.

 5. Be Mindful

Being mindful is to focus our undivided attention on the present moment. It involves being gentle on ourselves and accepting things without any judgement. Such focus helps us to move forward and mitigates the importance we put on our past and its relics. 

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