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How To Let Go: Four Ways To Reduce Stress

By Edited May 27, 2014 1 2

The Pressures

Many things cause difficulties in our life. Carrying around bad memories from the past and fears about the future cause much stress, tension and anxiety both within our mind and body. If you are feeling the pressures of life, it is highly likely that you are passing the tension around freely to all your friends and family too. Can you let things go easily or do you hang on for dear life, even if hanging on causes you more pain? Maybe it's time to show some compassion not only towards yourself, but also to all of those who surround you. To make it easier we can break it down into four things you can learn to let go of. Before doing that, it first may be beneficial to see exactly what it is that we're hanging on to.

Ways We Hang On

Future Worries

Everyday we face the news of our world. It's so awesome and kind that the media let us know  about every new disease, world disaster and latest pandemic to look out for...really gives us plenty of things to realise are out there and could happen to us. It's all great ruminating material for our brains to play with. Every time that you worry about your future "oh my god I've got this or that", you are actually neglecting the place that you can do something about it.  Your future is now, yep it's made right now in the present moment

Past Worries

When you think about it, it is a serious waste of time and energy that we waste by continuously going over past mistakes and past worries. A really interesting example of ruminating on something we all find hard to deal with is when we have been let down by one we trust and love. It is a past action that can cause us much ongoing pain if we don't let it go.

It has to be one of the most common things in our society that we find difficult to loosen our grip on... being wronged by another. It's a fact of life that people are not always exactly kind and considerate. No doubt you encounter people like this fairly frequently, but the hurt that comes when people who you know and trust do something awful to you, is a hard lesson to bear. If you've been let down, cheated on, thrown aside, done over, tricked or fooled by someone who you trust and love...It can be easy to fall into a hidden trap. Have you realised that the person who hurt you with one single action, will actually continue to hurt you more and more... if you don't let go of your thoughts about what they said or did! I don't necessarily mean, toss them aside as people and look for a better friend, family member or partner, I mean let go of the thoughts, let go of repeatedly going over it all in your head. It's this continual bombardment and recapping over what was said or done to wrong you, that is letting one bad action by another, hurt you over and over again. They really get value for money don't they! Don't form an attachment to it. Learn to let it go. Why should you allow those people to control your happiness?

We all know that it's reasonable... it's just common sense that we should let go of our attachments (especially such negative ones) but still we battle to do it. So let's have a look at four ways you can help yourself to let go of things that are causing you problems in your life.

#1 Throw It Away

The first way to let things go is to chuck things out. All those problems that you hold on to, you actually carry around with you. We could use the simile of it feeling like a big heavy backpack loaded with stones. Carrying around such a heavy load day and night, day in and day out, will surely make you feel tired and stressed. That bag of stones is only heavy when we hold it, if we put it down, purposely leave it behind somewhere or throw it away...it isn't heavy any more. Try and learn to travel lightly, you don't need to carry around so much rubbish. It's interesting to note that when you do this, nothing goes wrong like we seem to fear it will. What things can we start throwing away first? Let's have a look...

Stop Complaining

We are all exceptionally good at finding faults, it's almost second nature to complain. It's really an awful habit that we have grown accustomed to doing, but it is not beneficial to us and it is certainly not beneficial to those around us. It is negativity to the extreme and we need to let go of it. When we listen to people who like to complain about others... isn't it true that it makes us think about the fact that the same person probably goes off and complains about us too? The complaining fault-finding mind is a nasty negativity feeder but luckily, once you start to catch yourself thinking this way or notice yourself about to complain about someone or something, it is usually not too hard to pull yourself up to a halt. It is one of the easier habits to break. 

Can You Throw Out The Words?

Whenever we spend all of our time thinking about life, it is like the equivalent to reading about life. We spend so much time listening to the inner commentary running within our head we literally don't stop to smell the roses! We are so busy with our mind, we often don't even see the roses....or if we do, we run an inner commentary about exactly what it looks like. Every time we think "wow what a beautiful rose", we have stopped looking at the rose and started looking at the words instead. A good little experiment to try is... lose the words. People that have reached a certain level of meditation should be able to give this a reasonable go, as it is part of meditation practice. Look around you now, can you observe your surroundings without actually saying or hearing in your mind what you are looking at...It's difficult to do at first, but the more you can enjoy things without labelling everything, the more you incline towards peace and learn to use your mind in a different manner. Every now and again try to view things without the internal chatter telling you what you already know...Can you do it?

Dont Collect and Hoard

We are sentimental type beings, and many of us find it very difficult to throw away anything that reminds us of certain people or certain times. In the same way that we can do things to unclutter our homes like using feng shui and throwing useless things away, we should also work at uncluttering our minds. The more we try to think of and remember, the more difficult it is to keep things stable. Like an overloaded mantel shelf, packed with all our keepsakes and forget-me-nots, our mind strains under the pressure until it collapses or things start to fall off. The smart thing to do is only think of one thing at a time. When a new thing comes along, throw out the old and bring in the new. In our busy chaotic lives, with so many jobs to do, we have become quite good at multitasking but it does overload us. Stick to concentrating on one thing at a time and choose quality over quantity.

#2 Learn What Freedom Is

Find Contentment: Want To Be Here

Another bad habit that we have taken up, is the ability to create our own personal prisons. Any place you don't want to be, any thing you don't want to be doing, becomes a prison because you don't want to be there! It could be any number of things you don't like... a job, a relationship even a sick body. If you've managed to create prisons in your life, you don't have to change them to break out to freedom. Being happy with what you have, realising that everything that you have right now is good enough is the key to happiness. If you can change your attitude, you can escape your self-made exile. I was watching someone just today, who couldn't wait for the lift to arrive. He was pacing back and forth and when it finally did arrive, he tried to pull the doors apart quicker. Not even waiting for others to come out, he rushed past everyone and bustled inside. All that stress and tension he added to the simple task of waiting for a lift. He couldn't allow himself to be in the now and just simply and comfortably wait. He could only think about getting back up to his apartment. The crazy thing is, nothing he did actually made that lift go any quicker. If you don't want to be somewhere, even doing something as simple as standing  in a foyer waiting for a lift, makes you lose your freedom and peace. 

#3 Learn How To Really Give

Do you like to give? It feels good doesn't it! Many of us like to give, but can you give and not expect anything back in return? Can you do something really simple and easy, like sweep or clean a room without being asked and no-one knowing it was you who did it, and then be happy and content with the fact that you know you did a good thing...you don't need others praise for it. If you enter a relationship or a job with certain expectations in mind, there is a good chance that you will be disappointed at some stage. Even something as grand as travelling can be soured by our expectations of what we have previously read, seen or been told about. When we find it doesn't live up to what we believed it would be like, we feel disappointed. Meditation is another wonderful example of how we can sabotage something really great by expecting to gain from what we give. If you only meditate to seek specific gains, like curing a health problem, reaching enlightenment or making yourself relax...chances are it isn't going to work. You don't meditate to get things, you meditate to let go of things. Giving is a wonderful feeling. Spontaneous acts of giving and kindness can create such a warm and fuzzy feeling inside that is even more enjoyable than the feeling the person receiving feels.

#4 Let Things Slide

Enjoy every moment of your life, whilst knowing that it will pass. It has to pass to allow the next wonderful moment to come in. Life is full of both happy and unhappy moments, don't stop the flow of life experiences by letting everything good or bad stick to you. Don't collect, don't expect, just let it all slide by. This gives you the chance to really enjoy whatever happens next, without expectations of good or bad being involved.

 "Never allow knowledge to stand in the way of truth"

Sometimes too much knowledge really isn't a good thing. Like the example of looking at a rose and running our own internal commentary on what we are looking at... Having a lot of knowledge does not actually equal living life, it is only reading the signposts for life. Just like reading a book or reading this article and thinking you know everything already about something. If you only collect knowledge and never really live what you learn, you're missing the point.

Allow yourself to have a beautiful free mind in which nothing sticks to. This will allow you to clearly see things as they are and not just how you are told they are or should be.


Finding Peace



One of Ajahn Chah's famous quotes, very simple but very true...

“If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.” ~ Ajahn Chah

Anger bitterness, stress and frustration all come about because we can't let go and be happy with what we have. For  better health, more clarity when thinking and more peace and happiness...let go!


Food for the Heart: The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of May 27, 2014)
See more of Ajahn Chah's simple but profound teachings in this wonderful kindle book.


Aug 19, 2013 2:47am
Brilliant article.Plus this has a lot of positive thinking there is too many people that think negative thoughts these days. We all tend to complain all the time instead of appreciating what we have. Money is not important, it is how we live our lives no matter how much or little we have.
By the way gee you have heaps of feature articles - congratulations they look great.
Aug 19, 2013 3:11am
Hey there Eileen,
Thanks heaps for your positive comments! YEP...If we learn to be happy with what we have instead of always wanting more or things to be different, then maybe we won't end up chasing our tails looking for happiness. Cheers again, really appreciate it!
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  1. "Four Ways Of Letting Go." Dhammaloka Buddhist Centre Light of the Dhamma/http://www.youtube.com/BuddhistSocietyWA. 27/04/2013 <Web >
  2. Lori Deschene "40 Ways To Let Go And Feel Less Pain." Tiny Buddha. 27/04/2013 <Web >

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