Lift Magazine - - Front Page - Writ­ten by Mimi Fong Change Spe­cial­ist / Life and Ca­reer Coach

Shock, de­nial, hurt, anger, re­sent­ment, lone­li­ness, fear of what lay ahead. I car­ried these emo­tions for a long time af­ter my ex-hus­band and I di­vorced. I re­mem­ber one day shortly af­ter we sep­a­rated, I woke up and just could not func­tion. I couldn’t bear to lis­ten to mu­sic, turn on the tv, lis­ten to the ra­dio, or have any out­side in­ter­ac­tion that re­minded me of what I had lost. This was the low­est point in my life. All those neg­a­tive emo­tions and fears lit­er­ally stripped me of who I was. I felt com­pletely weighed down, al­most paral­ysed.

Look­ing back now, it al­most seems like I was a com­pletely dif­fer­ent per­son with a com­pletely dif­fer­ent life. Back then I was afraid of be­ing on my own and I was afraid of the un­cer­tainty that lay ahead of me. I was fac­ing huge changes; the loss of em­ploy­ment and the loss of my fam­ily – all at the same time. Talk about a dou­ble whammy! Ev­ery­thing I knew, my se­cu­rity net, my life as I knew it was all gone in an in­stant. That hurt, anger, re­sent­ment, sad­ness and guilt could have con­tin­ued to over­whelm me and de­fine the rest of my life, but I was for­tu­nate though to have another man en­ter my life at this crit­i­cal point. And no – it’s not what you are think­ing. This man was my coun­sel­lor. He saw that my chal­lenge was in ac­cept­ing the changes that had hap­pened in my life and let­ting go of a past life that no longer ex­isted. And so to­gether we de­vised a plan that al­lowed me to give my­self per­mis­sion to let go, em­brace the changes I had to face and move me for­ward with­out all the raw emo­tional bag­gage I was car­ry­ing around ev­ery minute of ev­ery day.

That was thir­teen years ago and it was one of the big­gest and most painful learn­ings of my life, and also one of the best. What did I learn? That the great­est ob­sta­cles to change lies in let­ting go of the past.

And so, I would like to share another story with you.

Two Bud­dhist monks re­turn to their monastery af­ter the rains. They reach a swollen river and in front of them is an ex­tremely beau­ti­ful lady in a del­i­cate silk ki­mono, dis­tressed be­cause she is un­able to cross the river by her­self. So, the older monk scoops her up, car­ries her safely to the other side and the two monks con­tinue on their way in si­lence. Five hours later, as the two monks reach their des­ti­na­tion, the younger monk, lit­er­ally fum­ing, bursts out, “How could you do that? You touched a woman. You know we’re not al­lowed to do that!” The older monk replies, “I put her down five hours ago, but you are still car­ry­ing her with you.”

This is one of my favourite sto­ries as it so beau­ti­fully con­veys a sim­ple yet pow­er­ful mes­sage: the things you carry around with you; the things you are fear­ful of, the grudges you bear and the anger and hurt you re­sist let­ting go of, all cloud your mind, pre­vent you from be­ing the best you can be and stop you from achiev­ing your goals and dreams.

Let­ting go of these things usu­ally in­volves some form of for­give­ness or ac­cep­tance – whether it’s of your­self, some­one else, a sit­u­a­tion or even an un­known third party. The irony is that what­ever you’re hold­ing onto is prob­a­bly hurt­ing you much more than it’s hurt­ing any­one else.

Now this next point is im­por­tant; for­giv­ing and ac­cept­ing doesn’t mean you con­done a sit­u­a­tion or be­hav­iour. Be­cause I cer­tainly didn’t and still don’t con­done my ex-hus­band’s be­hav­iour! What I learnt is that it’s not about any­one else. It’s about you and light­en­ing your load. Be­cause when you de­cide let go of the weight of things that are both­er­ing you, you set your­self free and get to re­claim all that en­ergy for your­self.

As we get started on my step-by-step process of let­ting go, keep in mind that you don’t need to know how to let go, you just need to be will­ing. And re­mem­ber – what­ever you find the hard­est to let go of is prob­a­bly the change you need to work on the most!

But if you do find you’re not ready to do any­thing about a par­tic­u­lar thing that’s weigh­ing heav­ily on you right now. that’s ok too, by start­ing with aware­ness you’ll nat­u­rally be­gin to loosen your grip as you’re ready.


Write a list of what you’re hold­ing on to. If you’re not sure, think about what feels heavy for you right now? What are you fear­ful of, what slows you down, what riles you up and what is get­ting in your way?


Next to each of these, write how you ben­e­fit by hold­ing on to it. If you’re strug­gling with iden­ti­fy­ing a ben­e­fit (there must be some­thing or you wouldn’t be hold­ing onto it), ask your­self, “What am I gain­ing by hold­ing onto this?” Per­haps by hold­ing onto re­sent­ments, fear, anger or hurt, you don’t need to ac­cept your part in the sit­u­a­tion, or per­haps it pro­vides you with a good ex­cuse not to take ac­tion, or maybe you get to stay in ‘the right’ or avoid deal­ing with a per­son or sit­u­a­tion. I can re­late to all of these rea­sons for hold­ing on be­cause at the time, they seem per­fectly jus­ti­fi­able.


The next step is to ask your­self, “What will I gain by let­ting go of this?”, and write these rea­sons down too.


The last step in­volves com­par­ing the ben­e­fit of hold­ing on to the ben­e­fit of let­ting go and ask­ing your­self hon­estly “Which one out­weighs the other?”

If you’re still find­ing it hard to let go and leave it be­hind you for good, ask your­self, “What do I need to do that will al­low me to let this go?” Per­haps you need to make notes in your jour­nal of what you’ve learned, per­haps you need to make some kind of amends, en­gage in a sig­nif­i­cant rit­ual or ac­tiv­ity, apol­o­gise or find a mean­ing­ful way to make it up to your­self or some­one else. While we can’t change the past, we can make amends and learn from it.

As we come to the end of another year, isn’t this is a great op­por­tu­nity to let go of the past, and start the new year with a fresh, clean slate?

Fi­nally, sit with your list and imag­ine let­ting go of ev­ery­thing on it.

Now, how does that feel?


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