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5 Strategies for Finding the Courage to Let Go and Move On

How to free yourself from what is making you unhappy

Key points

  • People may feel stuck and unable to move on because they are focused on loss, not possible gains.
  • Losses can be reframed as possibilities for growth, adventure, fulfillment, and success.
  • Practice self-care and have social support when making major life changes.
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Many of my clients came to me to help them make a life transition. Their job or a relationship no longer serves them. What was important earlier in their lives has shifted, and the love of their work or partner has run its course. Yet, they are afraid of leaving without a secure paycheck, of being alone forever, or taking a job or starting a new relationship that turns out worse than what they have now.

They are stuck because they are focused on loss, not possible gain.

Are you staying in a job or relationship even though you feel disrespected, or do you dread having to interact with someone? Maybe your unhappiness feels paralyzing, or you feel numb. Even if you were happy for years, you sense nothing is left now that excites or fulfills you. But you are afraid of letting go of the security you have, or you feel you might fail if you try something new. Failure would be unbearable.

In the song, Me and Bobby McGee written by Kris Kristofferson, there is a line, "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose." The more you have to hold onto, the more difficult it is to free yourself of your misery. You focus on the loss.

What about focusing on what is possible? The worst could happen, but many other scenarios could occur. The inventor Alexander Graham Bell said, "When one door closes, another opens." You have to close the door before you can see what is available to you.

If you have reflected on your situation with a therapist or coach and are sure you need to move on, try these five strategies to give yourself the courage to shape a life that fulfills instead of drains you:

  • Shift your focus. Instead of dwelling on what you'll lose, think about what you might gain, even if the changes take time. Gifts are waiting for you to discover if you keep moving forward.
  • Re-frame the losses. You might fear being alone but having your own space and controlling your days is better than feeling suffocated or trapped. Finding and starting a new job may feel daunting, but you might find ways to make the search and new work an adventure.
  • Plan a strategic exit. Don't make emotional decisions. Consider the best time to call it quits. Set a firm date and stick to it even when you try to talk yourself out of it. Then get clear on how you will persevere in the meantime.
  • Work with others to build clarity and confidence. Think through your fog of fear, doubt, and resentment. Consult with wise friends who will be straight with you. If you are stuck or depressed, seek a good therapist.
  • Take care of yourself. When life feels difficult, you might skimp on your self-care. Now is the time to make sure you sleep and eat well, do fun things with friends, manage your finances, and reflect on what is good in your life. Be careful of being overly self-critical. Focus on what you have learned from your experiences that will help you make wise choices in the future.

You have many more chapters to live than to stay stuck in one that brings you no joy. Is it time to turn the page? The next chapter might be the most exciting time in your life.