Published on 05 May 2023

The Psychology of Letting Go

General Psychology The Psychology of Letting Go
Table of Contents

An average person makes different relationships that either last longer or shorter. Mainly they connect their mind through attachments. But in some situations, they let go of things. It is not only related to the person, but people also let go of something or habits. Some of them get frustrated while letting go of things. Many people find it difficult to let go of people or things, but sometimes it can turn helpful for you to understand yourself.

Psychology also plays an essential role in the letting go process regarding the mind and behavior. Mainly it allows a person to think about various aspects of the letting process and focus on their behavioral changes.

Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and behavior, in which psychologists conduct different ways to understand a person's state of mind. They also study how the brain functions, personality, and human development to know how a person thinks, acts, and reacts individually or in society.

The field of psychology is also recognized as a hub science that is linked with medical and social science. Nowadays, psychology is also considered a career option for aspiring youngsters.

What Is Letting Go?

When someone talks about letting go, it doesn't mean they grip off something with their hands. In psychology, allowing go means releasing attachment with someone or something. People let go of things instead of fighting over them.

The letting process could be different for everyone. If a person is in a relationship where they are not getting respect, they sometimes let go of the thing as they think it may hurt their partner's sentiment, whereas others just let go of their relationship.

It could be letting go of a dream you saw regarding your past; it could be letting go of expectations you created about yourself. There are many possibilities for this process.

Five Stages Of Letting Go

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychiatrist, developed five stages of letting go; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Although their book is specifically about the stages of grief, most psychologists use this approach to explain the process of letting go because it represents people's psychological and emotional aspects.


It is a stage in which you avoid reality or personal problems by refusing their existence. A sudden shock mainly characterizes this. If a person receives a call about their close friend who died yesterday, they may be shocked. Later they convince themselves that it did not happen; it was just a bad dream. They start looking for a small hope to prove others wrong. The denial stage last for a short term, and later entering into reality, most people accept it. 


In this stage, you accept your unfortunate reality and question yourself, "Why only me?". This can make you frustrated about a person, the situation, or even the world. 

For example, Why me? This general question might have popped up in your mind when your friend cheated on you. It is a common phenomenon that people do change, but a close person lying to you dramatically affects you. 


In this stage, you think about Irrational hope even when the facts don't relate to it. Your inner thoughts and prayer characterize this. In simple terms, many people ask the standard question What if? Which makes you think about those things which would never happen. People quit this stage as they quickly learn that the bargaining stage doesn't work.


This is when people feel lost but haven't entirely accepted it yet. Most get stuck at this stage as they don't want to talk to anyone. This situation can make a person not accept the reality they are dealing with. It is one of the most happening situations when people start letting go of things.


This is the last stage of letting go, characterized by inner peace. It happens because you allow yourself to face grief, anger, regret, and depression. This is the final step in which you understand and accept what you are going through and decide to move on. 

Why Is Letting Go So Hard?

Why can't I let go? Because humans mostly have an attachment part which makes them emotionally connected with a person or a thing. But when they let go of it, a person might go through a sudden shock. Letting go can be scary for those who are fond of something. To know more about it, below are some common reasons why letting go is hard.

You Are Still Attached

It is possible to have a close relationship or an attachment with someone, making it difficult to let go. If a person is desperate, they would want them to be in their life. Later, due to circumstances, people around them will suggest letting go. Will they let go of their favorite person? The answer would be No. After all, humans are here to have a social life.

It's Ok to be wrong

In a relationship, people accept wrong things even if they are right. This happens because they never want to lose their close ones. Most people think that if they point out any mistake about their partner, then they might get angry. Sometimes It's ok to be wrong, but if it happens frequently, it should be fixed. 

Fear Of Change

Letting go of a person who is very close to you may be a difficult challenge. It may feel like a shock to you while letting them go. Many people get tense by only thinking about the scenario. That's why you should always be transparent with the letting go process with your friends or someone close to you so they can understand you best.  

Low Self Esteem

Some people blame themselves for good habits or any interest after letting go. The letting process may become difficult for those with low self-esteem. Most people think they are ugly, losers, etc., and if someone lets them go, they feel guilty for what happened. 


A human mind is natural to hope for something which can appreciate their life. Most people hope not to let someone go as it is possible to reconnect with them in the future. After all, hope is a new chapter of your life that can reopen the freshness of life. 

Letting Go Of Loved One

Love is the most important and satisfying thing in this world, where people from different perspectives, faces, and thoughts can connect their feeling easily. Not only a relationship but letting go of a friend who was with you for a long time will be challenging. If you have decided to let go of a relationship that isn't meaningful, it would still be difficult to move on. 

Yes. Moving on from this situation is difficult, but it's not impossible. After letting go of someone from your life, it is necessary to expect the best. Think about good things that will happen in the future. 

Meditation For Letting Go

Letting Go activity is linked with mental shifts and behavior. It's necessary to keep your mind calm, as letting go means letting go of an attachment to something you love. Sometimes this impacts mental processes and thoughts. One way to develop your thought process is to accept this change with Mindfulness meditation. 

Being Mindfulness through the form of meditation can be possible. You can concentrate on being intensely aware of what you sense and feel in a situation without judgment or interpretation.

Some research suggests that Mindfulness meditation can help people let go of negative thoughts. Practicing meditation can help you let go of negative thoughts and feelings efficiently.

Steps Of Letting Go

People think that letting go is a challenging process that takes much time to move on. In some situations, it is true. But if you have self-esteem, then it can be possible. These are the following steps you can take.

  • First, allowing yourself to understand and express your emotions and feelings with someone is necessary.
  • Talk to your friends and family about your struggles
  • Ask yourself a question of whether you are comfortable letting go or not.
  • Explore what exactly is stopping you from letting go.
  • Create a letting go plan to set a time, prepare yourself, how you will do it, what actions you will take, etc. 
  • Set a new goal to encourage you to consider your values and interests. 

Psychological Benefits Of Letting Go

Letting go gives you freedom from things not made for you. Sometimes the moment you are experiencing is not pre-determined by the past but only the present situation. 

  • When you let go of a painful experience and concentrate on the present moment, you control your feelings more effectively. This can prevent anxiety and depression.   
  • Letting go of a relationship can help you make your future relationship healthier by not repeating the mistakes you have made in the past.
  • After letting someone go, you might face their requirements in certain situations, but day by day, you will develop a coping strategy to feel comfortable with these situations.
  • Letting go of something might make you regret it, but once you start to move on, you will realize it is a clear decision. 

Apart from these benefits, many psychologists have developed therapies to treat the problems after the letting process. Let's know more about it in the following paragraph. 

Therapies To Help You Let Go

As you all know, every person is different, and that's why the thought process also works differently. When you let go of a thing, your mind gets emotional most of the time. Here are some following therapies made to treat these problems. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy:  This therapy helps a person develop Mindfulness skills that improve their ability to think about the present moment and let go of painful thoughts and feelings.

Acceptance and commitment therapy helps people focus on their goals and values to develop a meaningful life. It can also positively impact your decision without getting distracted by negative thoughts.

Schema therapy: It addresses past traumas and how they control your vision toward the world. In this therapy, you can learn techniques to stop recurring negative thoughts.

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Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solutions

Letting go is an activity where you release an attachment. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychiatrist, developed five stages of letting go; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Most psychologists use this psychiatrist approach to explain the process of letting go.

Letting go becomes difficult when you let go of your loved one. This can have different reasons, such as being attached to them, fear of change, low self-esteem, etc. Still, some people gain courage and let go of their loved ones, but later they regret their decision even if it was right. In that case, you can take therapy to feel calm and relaxed.