15 things you need to let go of in order to move forward

by Lachlan Brown | May 18, 2024, 7:14 pm

The past can be heavy. As we go through life, we’re bound to accumulate experiences, beliefs, and attachments that no longer serve us.

With that said, it’s crucial that we identify and release those heavy weights if we want to move forward.

In this article, I’ve listed down emotional baggage that might be impeding your progress.

Together, as we understand how much of your growth is being hindered by these things, I hope you also learn how to release yourself from the shackles of the past so that you can live a life with the freedom you deserve.

1) Grudges

Forgive me for this comparison, but I think it’s pretty accurate: Grudges are like that leftover pizza in your fridge from two weeks ago.

Initially, you wanted to savor it, but now it’s just stinking up in your life. It’s trash. And what’s worse? You’re the one who’s suffering, not the pizza. You’re the one inhaling the nasty smell.

That said, do you have a grudge that’s way past its expiration date? Are you holding onto resentment that’s only poisoning your peace of mind?

Maybe it’s that ex who broke your heart or perhaps the boss who overlooked you for a promotion. Well, it’s high time to throw that pizza out.

2) Need for External Validation

External validation is a quick fix to self-esteem issues. Your self-worth fluctuates with every compliment or criticism you receive.

If that sounds like you, it’s time to wake up. Who cares if your sunny-side-up didn’t get a hundred likes? Will that make it taste any less delicious?

Go ahead and post your outfit of the day – but if you’re doing it just to get the attention of strangers, you’ll never be able to actually live your day.

If you find yourself addicted to the applause (or even the number of likes, shares, and comments), here’s a reminder that your life isn’t a reality TV show.

Your happiness shouldn’t hinge on what others think of you. Forget about the ratings. Your self-worth isn’t up for public review.

3) Obsession With Being Productive

This obsession with being productive all the time turns us into machines, robbing us of our human-ness, our ability to enjoy life and its myriad experiences.

While it’s okay to hustle, we shouldn’t forget that life is a journey, not a race.

I knew someone in my previous job who was so obsessed with productivity that he measured his life in terms of output – always on the move, constantly striving for more.

He was known for his undeniable work ethic, but what people didn’t know was the cost he was paying.

One day, he collapsed from exhaustion. The doctor’s verdict? Overwork. He was pushing himself too hard, not getting enough sleep, and not eating properly.

His obsession had landed him in a hospital bed. That was his wake-up call.

So he changed his ways and started hanging out with his family more often.

After all, his parents aren’t getting any younger.

4) Victim Mentality

Have you ever noticed how some people love to marinate in their own misery?

It’s as if they’re competing in the “who has it worse” Olympics. To be fair, it’s as addictive as it is destructive.

But the thing is, the world isn’t out to get anyone.

When these people play the victim card, they’re allowing the past to dictate their present and future.

Let’s flip the script. Do you often see yourself as a helpless victim of your circumstances? Are you always wallowing in self-pity?

That might mean that instead of taking responsibility for your actions, you’re blaming others for your problems. This is the victim mentality. Acknowledge it. Challenge it. Throw away your victim card. You’re not a victim; you’re a fighter. Start acting like one.

5) Sense of Entitlement

A sense of entitlement is a double-edged sword. On one side, it can spur you on to claim what you rightfully deserve.

On the other, it can lead you down a path of unrealistic expectations and constant disappointments.

It turns you into this demanding individual who is never satisfied, someone who always wants more.

Admittedly, I used to be entitled when I was a fresh grad.

At work, I would be disappointed and obviously frustrated when things didn’t go my way.

So it was quite a humbling experience when I was overlooked for promotion.

It was a bitter pill to swallow. I took some time to introspect and realized that my sense of entitlement was hindering my professional growth.

6) Toxic Relationships

Do you have any energy vampires in your life? It’s as if they feed off your energy and suck the joy out of you.

You might be in a toxic relationship. If that’s the case, then why are you still holding onto them?

They’re doing more harm than good. It’s time to put your foot down and say, “No more!”

You should be focusing on your happiness, your peace, and your future.

7) Certain Labels, Roles, or Identities

Labels are sticky, messy, and frankly, overrated.

These labels – may they be self-imposed or not – can confine you to narrow your boxes.

They define what you can do, should do, and even should be.

They limit your potential. No matter if you’re the “funny guy,” the “responsible one,” or the “black sheep,” these identities don’t define you. Remove any form of attachment from them.

You’re a human being, a work in progress.

Remind yourself that you have a multi-dimensional identity. You’re more than a label, role, or identity.

When you break free from the past and the labels that confine you, you can give yourself the freedom to define yourself on your own terms.

8) People-Pleasing Tendencies

You can’t keep going the extra mile to keep everyone happy, even if it means setting yourself on fire.

Case in point, a guy I knew, Jason. Nice guy – always out there pleasing everyone.

One day, out of nowhere, he snapped. He yelled at his best friend for a minor inconvenience.

He realized he was losing himself in this never-ending charade of pleasing others.

You see, the world won’t end if you stop bending over backwards for everyone.

Like Jason, you need to reclaim your life. Prioritize your needs, feelings, and peace of mind.

People will adjust – don’t worry about it. You can go on with your day without putting your needs on the back burner.

Before you know it, everyone’s moved on with their life, and you’re still stuck trying to get their approval.

9) Resistance to Alone Time

You know what’s scarier than a horror movie marathon of The Purge on a dark, stormy night? Spending time along with your thoughts.

It’s like facing a mirror you’ve been avoiding: your insecurities, fears, and mistakes start to haunt you.

But the ugly truth is that running away from your own thoughts is like trying to outrun your shadow. Impossible.

Simply put, when you’re scared to be alone, that means you’re scared to face yourself.

This may take time to learn, but you have to remind yourself that your fear of loneliness only keeps you stuck in the past.

You need to make peace with your own company before you can take a step forward.

10) Material Clutter

You’re not fooling anyone when you call the mess in your room “organized chaos.”

Admit it. It’s just chaos. Look around. Are you surrounded by things you haven’t used in ages? Do you buy stuff you don’t need, just because? Does having this much stuff make you any richer?

If you haven’t heard of Marie Kondo, I suggest you do a quick Google search on her after reading this article.

She’ll teach you exactly how to declutter your life. For every item, ask yourself “Does this spark joy?” You need to say an unequivocal “yes” if you want to keep it.

By the end of your spring cleaning session, you might be surprised by how liberating it feels to have fewer things weighing you down.

Life becomes simpler, more breathable.

11) Unreasonable Expectations

Life isn’t a fairytale. When your expectations are sky-high, you might as well be living a fantasy.

Every day won’t be sunshine and rainbows. People won’t always be nice to you. Your plans won’t always go your way.

During my university years, I held a lot of people – including myself, my friends, and anyone I met – to high standards (looking back, they were unreasonably high standards).

Needless to say, I was often frustrated. It took years of growing up before I fully understood just how imperfect life – and even people – can be.

12) Fear of Change

Sorry to break it to you, but change is as inevitable as death and taxes.

If you’re running away from it, you’re just running on a treadmill – exhausting yourself but not moving an inch.

Keep in mind that change is not an enemy but a catalyst for growth.

You’ve got to roll with the punches. Remember, the only constant thing in life is change.

13) Perfectionism

Let’s face it, a lot of us aren’t strangers to this: striving for the perfect job, perfect body, picture-perfect relationship.

Everything has to be flawless; however, the caveat is that we feel perpetually unsatisfied.

Our pursuit of perfection is a never-ending journey leading nowhere. It’s an illusion.

When you stress over every detail and flaw, it will inevitably take a toll on your happiness.

It’s time to change your mindset if you want to move forward, free from the expectations that things have to be a certain way.

14) Excuses

Back when I was a workaholic and had so much on my plate, I was the king of excuses.

I always found a reason not to do personal errands: too busy, too tired, too difficult.

But the thing is, excuses weren’t getting me anywhere.

Finally, after a few months, I decided to replace excuses with action. Was it hard? Absolutely. Was it worth it? You bet. I was finally able to tick my to-do list one by one and go to bed without pending tasks bothering me.

15) Control

Sure, having control over your life is empowering; however, trying to take control over every minuscule detail is a one-way ticket to Stressville.

You need to let go of being a control freak. You can’t manage everything.

Life happens, with or without your control. After all, the art of living lies in a fine balance between letting go and holding on.

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *