being positive under pressure
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how to let go of what you don't need




 "All the art of living lies in the fine mingling of letting go and holding on."

Henry Ellis


For a lot of people, it's hard to let go. It's hard to let go of people, of things, of emotions. It's hard to let go when you know you have to. It's hard to let go when you don't want to. I find that some people are better at letting go of some things than others. I, for example, have a terrificly terrible time letting go of people, but when it comes to letting go of actual things, I have absolutely no trouble saying goodbye. Other people don't seem to cling to people the way that I do, but ask them to get rid of a dress they wore in high school and they act like you're asking them to sell their soul. We're all different when it comes to letting go, but I bet that no matter who you are, you have a hard time letting go of something.

And, you know what? That's okay. It's okay to have a hard time letting go. Whether it's things, people, or thoughts, it's difficult to give up something that you once thought of (or still think of) as yours. But that's no excuse to keep hanging onto it. When you keep things you don't need (and, yes, this includes people) in your life, you're causing yourself to have to deal with things you don't need to. Extra things create clutter in your home, just the same way extra people create clutter in your heart. I don't know about you, but I'd rather not have clutter of any kind in my life. I like things neat, I like things organized, and, above all else, I like things clutter-free.

Of course, getting rid of clutter -- emotional or physical -- is usually easier said than done. It's quite easy to say you want to get rid of something, but quite another to actually take action and get rid of it. It takes a lot of courage to get rid of something when, for whatever reason, you don't really want to get rid of it. You might be thinking yourself, "Okay, why would I get rid of something if I don't want to get rid of it?" It does seem a little backwards but there plenty of things we hang on to that we don't need. For example, there are plenty of people in this world who are hoarders (hello, Clean House!) and, though they know they should get rid of some of their stuff, they don't want to. Likewise, there are people out there who spend time with those that drain them emotionally. Though they know they should get rid of these people, they don't necessarily want to. In both of these examples, you can see that sometimes we hang on to things we don't need. And it's up to us to make a change.

Just like happiness, getting rid of things you don't need in your life is a choice. You don't usually get forced into it (though sometimes this can happen) and usually no one is going to do it for you (how often to people really come into your house and start de-cluttering your living space?). Therefore, it's all up to you. You have to make the choice to get rid of what you don't need in your life. Ready? Okay, let's go let go! 

Letting Go of What You Do Not Need

  • Decide what's really important. When you take a step back and think about what's really, truly important to you, you'll begin to realize that many of the things you're holding on to aren't as important as you once thought. What's important is being healthy, happy, and living your life to the fullest. If you are clinging to things or people, you're not really living happily and at peace with yourself. Step back and assess what really matters to you and letting go will become a lot easier.

  • Assess what benefits you're getting. One of the reasons we hang on to things or people is because we believe we need them, we believe we're really getting something of value from having them around. But is that true? Think about it -- and I mean really think about it. Are you benefiting from the clutter in your life? Is your life richer because you are surrounded by negative people? Probably not. If you take a moment and list the benefits you're getting from something you should let go of, you'll probably have a short list. Use this to motivate yourself to let go.

  • Recognize that you're overvaluing it. Typically it's you that's placing all of the value on a person or thing that you're holding on to unnecessarily. More often than not, you're idealizing that person or thing and telling yourself that, for whatever reason, you need to have it in your life. However, that's not true. If you believe you should be letting go than you should let go. What you need in your life is you. You also need things that are bringing you up, not down. If something isn't bringing you up, if it isn't absolutely necessary, stop overvaluing it and let it go.

  • Let it go -- no matter how hard it is. It really does come down to the old Nike slogan, "Just do it." No matter how hard it is, no matter what obstacles stand in your way, sometimes you have to just suck it up and let it go. I know, firsthand, that this is much easier said (or written!) than done, but, honestly, it really is the only way. Whether it's a person or a thing (or even a feeling), the best advice is just to let go (and don't go chasing after it either!). When you actually take action, you'll see that you're just fine without it. 

As much as you might think you need something, keep in mind that "need" is a very strong word. What you really "need" in your life is very different from what you might think you need. Remember that, deep down, you really do know what's best for yourself. If there's something telling you that you need to let go, listen to that instinct. Your gut feelings will let you know what's right and what's wrong. You just need to open your mind and listen to them. And then, when you hear that voice telling you that you need to let something go, have the courage to really listen and to take action. Letting something go isn't ever easy, but you can make your whole world better and more positive just by loosening your grip and letting go.

Do you find it hard to let go of people or things?
If so, how do you deal with situations when you really need to let go?



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I also find it hard to let go of things but sometimes I force myself to do it so I could de-clutter my life. I just condition my mind that when I let go, I make space in my life for new things that I really need. Your tips also make it easier to let go. Thank you for sharing!

Let's all "let go" and LIVE MORE!

Dani, thanks for a great post on a tough subject.

I myself have the hardest time letting go of people. I find it helps to let myself of going through the process of missing the person I have to let go and, in due time, it gets easier and my grip loosens.

Hey Dani, nice post and reminder to tell ppl that we need to let go of things sometimes even though they can be VERY hard...

It is mostly because of fear in my opinion that many people are afraid of letting go, they fear the outcome of the future will result in a worse situation if they did let go.

But you are right on assessing what benefits we get when we are afraid to let go, sometimes we just need to rationalize what we need and what we don't need and put our emotions of fear and insecurities aside.

Thanks for the awesome post Dani. :)


Hey Dani!
I've always stuggled with letting go of things or people I really like, or at least I think I really like. Logically I know it would be better to let go, but I don't want to, and there is that false hope that "maybe" things will turn out okay.

I wonder if it is a fear of losing, but I don't think so, because it is actually already lost, it is more about the admitting and accepting that it is gone.

Thanks for this post :)
Have a great week miss!

what a great post - i love the advice to think about how much benefit you're getting from something/someone *now* (i often hang onto things either because of past sentiment, or perceived future need, i need to be more "present" in my posessions, i think...)

thanks! :) xx

Letting go of important things is hard to do because sometimes they have so much significance tied to them, such as good memories of the past.

I'm sure all of us here can somewhat relate to having an ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend and how hard it is to let go of those pictures representing the shared moments of happiness together.

Getting rid of those photos means wasting perhaps 1 year, 2 years, or 3 years of a lifetime. But letting go of them is probably the best thing to do in order to move on and live a brighter, more positive future.

thanks SO much for this gentle reminder! letting go can be tough. it's easier for me when i keep my heart and hands open.


I also find it hard to let people go, but I've learned to think about why I really do need to let somebody go. It wasn't easy in the beginning, but with time it becomes a bit easier. In my opinion, we need also to remember not to get too excited letting things go, because if we do, we risk losing something that really is invaluable to us.

Nike's slogan "Just do it" fits perfectly in this topic. It's also a good slogan for most of the things we should do. When we finally find the courage to do it, and we "just do it", we will feel great afterwards.

Thanks for a great post!

Thank you so much for this wonderful post. It is exactly what I needed to hear today.

Nikka - Sometimes you do have to force yourself to let go but it can be the best thing for you. Great point about how, when we let go, we allow ourselves to live more.

Belinda - Me too! Letting go of things is really not hard at all. It's the people that I struggle with, even when I know it's for the best. It really is important to address the way you feel and not ignore your emotions.

Steven - So true about fear being the major component in why people can't let go of things or people. They think that someday they might need them again and they're afraid of being without them. It's important to focus on the now and not worry about the future so much.

Diggy - Excellent point about realizing that when you know you need to let something go, it is usually already gone. The loss is already there and it's just a matter of accepting it, hard as that might be.

Rachel - Thanks! I'm glad you liked this one and, as you noticed, it's really important to focus on the now when dealing with this type of situation. You can't think about what was or what could be, only what IS.

Tristan - Letting go can be so, so hard sometimes because we are attached to what a person or thing meant to us, but it really is better in the long run to realize that you cannot get the past back and it's much more productive to focus on the now.

Lisa - You're welcome! Thank you for bringing up the great point about keeping your heart open. It's hard thing to do sometimes, but it really does make the letting go process SO much better.

Knallan - You're right about how important it is to think about why you really do need to let something or someone go. Often when we take the time to think things through, we realize that we'd be a lot better off without that thing or person and it becomes easier to "just do it."

And then there are those who live with others who are clutter-claspers ... and though we would love to clear healthy space around us, we do not have the final say (or the only say) regarding what stays and what goes....

With things, if we ask when the last time we used an item was, and can't remember when that was, it's pretty likely that we're not going to use it again any time soon. :-)

With people, though, in addition to "how much do we need them", we must also pay attention to how much they need us.... The balance is much harder, when we have to keep track of how we may be damaging someone else's life in the goal of improving our own. It's a tough call, for sure.

Great, thought-provoking post! Thanks so much!

Ellecubed - You're welcome! I'm so glad this post spoke to you today. I hope the tips I've offered here are helpful for you.

Gayze - You've brought up some excellent points in your comment. Sometimes we don't have the final say in what stays in our lives and, if that's the case, it's important to communicate your desires clearly. In addition, you've raised a very insightful point about thinking about how much others might need us (though I would caution that it's never a good idea to stay with someone because s/he needs you).


Great post as always. For me this is one of those things that haunted me for a long time. I had an old roommate in college who was a good friend I had a really big falling out with. For years, and even sometimes still these days, I had alot anger and resentment towards him. But somewhere along the way I realized that there was almost no benefit to this, so I finally let it go. I think letting go is a very liberating feeling.

Thanks for another great post, Dani! I think you've done a great job of outlining the best way to let go of the things or people that no longer serve out higher good.

One thing that helps me let go of people is to recognize the effect they have on my emotions. If they are bringing me up, raising my energy, uplifting me, then I know that it's good to keep them around. However, if they are constantly bringing me down, depressing me, lowering my energy, I know I have to let them go. It's perfectly OK to be sad sometimes, but a person who is forever stuck in a bad mood will only bring harm, and I avoid them.

This was a great post! I, like you, cling to people. Things I can get rid of without much of a second thought. But not people. People I hang on to for years past when I should because I always feel like people deserve another chance, and another chance, and another chance.

It wasn't until recently when I realized that I had a lot of negative "noise" in my life that I decided to take action. This time, rather than hanging on to the people making the noise, I slowly, one-by-one, let them all go. I decided that I'd be much better off in the long-run if I didn't listen to their noise any longer.

I'm a much happier person today because I did this. :-)

Several blogs I read have touched on this topic and I'm working on my own post about identity and the things we feel are important. Thank you for writing this and sharing your thoughts, Dani.

This is a weird thing but we let go of it today! We live really far from any recycling place. Consequently our recycling stacks up in our garage, spills over and drives us crazy until we haul it an hour away.

Today we signed up for a recycling service! We let go;)

Srinivas - I know exactly what you mean. There are some people who have hurt me that I still harbor resentment towards and, though I have let them go, I need to let those emotions go as well. I'm sure I'd feel much more liberated!

Jay - You're welcome! Thank you for bringing up the great point about the effects others might have on your emotional state. That's such a key point when thinking about whether or not someone should be in your life or not. We need to have people around that bring us up, not down!

Elle - Thanks! It's definitely hard to let go of people, especially when it's not so easy to determine that you really want to let someone go. As you did, it's essential to let negative people go if you want to have a positive life and I've been working on doing this (though it's easier said than done!).

Daphne - Yes, it's a very important topic and it's always wonderful to read different points of few on it. I'm looking forward to reading that post about identity. Sounds very interesting!

Letting go is probably one of the hardest emotional developments in my life. I want to let go of my fear of public speaking. I want to let go of wanting a bigger house.

The reason I can't let it go is because there is something that I still need to learn from these attachments. This isn't always clear as to why, so I keep digging and trying to listen to my needs. Over time I've improved, but these is still a lot of developing I need to do in this area.

Thanks for making me think of this in a new way.

Tess - How wonderful that you're letting go today. And recycling is SUCH a positive way to let go of what you don't need!

Karl - Letting go is definitely a hard thing to do, but you've raised a great point about how important it is to figure out what you still need to learn from the things (or people) you're holding on to. That's a great point and you've definitely given me something to think about!

Hi Dani,

Great article. You're right, it all starts with letting go.

Letting go is hard only because we have forgotten how easy it is. Once we try, do it, we remember letting go is very natural and we did as children all the time.

Thanks for the wonderful insight!


Great tips, Dani. Steamlining is always a big thing for me. In fact, I have just cleaned my inbox (something little, I know) and it feels amazing.


Hi glad you mentioned clearing away mind clutter as well as material clutter. Both are equally important to let go.

Another wonderful post, so beneficial.


open you hand and your heart

Hi Dani - One situation in which I have some trouble letting go is when something that was once important to me, that was actually a priority at one time, is no longer that important. Things change and sometimes what was really important no longer is. I find those situations challenging. :)

Hi Dani, I TOTALLY agree. I think people can conceptually get their mind around things, but they are in denial in regard to letting go of people.

"Let it go -- no matter how hard it is."

Absolutely. Often people have a hard time of letting go of people because those people are going to try and make them feel guilty. You should never feel guilty. You were not put on this earth (however you believe that happened) to live for someone else. Take care of yourself.

Kaushik - Thank you! It really does start with letting go, and you're right about how much more difficult we make letting go than it really is. Good point about how we let go so much more easily as children!

Meream - Thanks! I agree that streamlining is so important. Cleaning your inbox is actually a pretty tough one for a lot of people so good for you! :)

Karen - It's definitely important to clear your mind clutter as well as actual clutter. It's not always the easiest thing to do, but it can make SUCH a difference if we take the time to do it.

Patricia - Excellent advice and so wonderfully, simply put!

Amanda - Yes, that's definitely a difficult situation -- when something changes and something or someone is no longer important (but once was). It's important to live in the moment and focus on the now instead of the value something used to have.

Stephen - You've brought up a great point about guilt. A lot of people hold on to people (and things!) because they feel guilty letting them go. Usually it's worse to hold on to these people or things because you are holding yourself back as well as the opportunities for others (who could benefit from your things or a relationship with someone you are clinging to). Taking care of yourself is SO important and so often people forget that.

Great article. Letting go is difficult for many people. The reason it is so difficult is because many people define themselves by what they hold on to. Practicing detachment helps us to understand that nothing external is what we are and therefore letting go of whatever it is we need to let go of does not have a negative impact on us. The one key learning is we don't have to let go of everything, however we do have to mentally be able to let go of everything.

Dani, letting go is so vital to happiness. When we can shed the stuff we don't need, and let go (this can be physical or mental "things") becomes lighter and much easier.

Thanks for the great post!


Mark - Letting go can definitely be difficult and, as you said, it's usually because people define themselves by the things/people around them. Great point about being able to mentally let go of everything. That's so important!

Dayne - Yes it is! It's wonderful when we are able to get rid of the things/people/thoughts we do not need in our lives. Hard as it is to do sometimes, it really can have amazing lasting benefits when we let go.

I like your post girl. When it's really hard for me, I use this question I found on HappySimple - does this represent where I've been or where I'm going. It is incredibly effective!

Hey Dani! I really loved this - I tend to get very attached myself and find it hard to let go. I think I tend to analyze a bit more than I should - do I let it go, do I not? The "just do it" mantra is one to remember. I think we all know intuitively how to let things go that don't serve us; just a matter of deciding. Chat soon!

Catherine - Thanks! I'm going to have to check out HappySimple. Sounds awesome! It's always great to have one simple question or phrase to ask yourself in a difficult situation.

Laura - Just doing it really is the best way to do it, though it's definitely hard not to analyzing this. Great point about how we all really do know when we need to let go -- we just have a hard time doing it!

I've noticed that most people have a really difficult time letting go of their beliefs and their lifestyles. For example, science has shown that eating red meat is extremely unhealthy, yet people just keep consuming it in massive amounts, refusing even to cut down a little bit. Other beliefs people won't let go of include political, theological, and anything that would require a major lifestyle change. I find it fascinating that it takes generations to absorb new information and act on it. We humans are really an odd bunch.

Hey, I couldn't agree with you more when you say "What's important is being healthy, happy, and living your life to the fullest."

I always enjoy reading your posts. Keep up the great work!

Melissa - Really great point -- people often struggle with letting go the most when it comes to beliefs or lifestyles because I think so many people are afraid of change. As someone who has made some pretty big changes in her life recently, I know how hard it can be but also how rewarding. As for red meat, well, I think everyone should just stop eating it all together!

BeTrulyHappy - I'm so glad you like reading my posts and I really do believe that those things are what's truly important. We often get caught up in other things, believing they are important, but it's crucial that we get back to the basics of what life's all about!

Being a military family means constantly having to let go of places, people and things. It's hard although letting go of people is easier if they, too, are in the military because my consolation is that they will soon be leaving as well. I am moving in a couple of months after having lived in a retired military community for four years. This means there is no consolation for me because they're not moving, I am. I find that what helps me is to find things I know I'll enjoy about the new place, things that will keep me busy and things I can share with my friends. I try not to dwell on the past or on time wasted because it's all gone now. I focus on spending quality time together and on creating memories.

As for stuff...well I'm so used to moving every two years that getting rid of stuff has become a piece of cake. It's like spring cleaning. I donate what's worth donating, I throw away or shred papers and keep only that which has real value.

Thanks for the reminders, inspiration, and great message.

Dani, I think sometimes people hold on to others because they keep hoping that things will change, that they will get better. Remember the poem, "Reason, Season, Lifetime," - I think keeping that peom in mind is helpful. When it comes to matters of the heart that is another matter. It's not easy for anyone to let go of someone they love, or think they love.

SpinDiva - I would imagine it's tough to be in a military family, but it certainly teaches one about letting go. Not dwelling on the past is one of the best ways to enjoy the moment and make the most of what you have now. Good for you for getting rid of stuff because I bet there are a lot of people out there who, even though they move a lot, end up dragging a lot of things with them.

Anita - Very true. Most people hold on because they expect things to change, but that's usually not what happens. Love does make letting go hard but when you know you should let go it's so importan to do so.

Good ideas. I still tend to hang onto too much stuff. My house is filled with antiques. But in some ways, I'm glad that my parents and grandparents and so forth held onto their stuff because a lot of it is really sought after.

Syd - You're right about how it's sometimes good to hang on to stuff. It's important to keep some things that are important, but I think a lot of people have trouble letting go of things that really have no value.

I had trouble letting go of clutter earlier in my life until I told myself, if it's really important, it will come back around. It works. I now do this with many things. I love books, so people give me recommendations all the time. Before, I had stacks of them I couldn't get through. Now, when someone gives me a recommendation, I say thanks, but do not rush to buy it or check it out at the library, knowing, if it's really important for me to read it, the recommendation will come back to me through another person. It happens all the time now. When three different people recommend the same book to me over a short period of time, I know I'm supposed to read that book.

Hi Dani .. letting go - is letting go of the things that get in the way and hold you back .. for simplicity that's all you probably need to think .. somethings can just be put out of sight, while you get on .. later on you can have that good clear out, when you feel more able to do that large let go.

As you say - we all react differently to different situations ..

Don't let go of us!!
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Christopher - Great point about how if something is really, truly important, you'll get it back eventually. That's really cool about the book recommendations. I'll have to start doing that too!

Hilary - Simplicity is the key when it comes to letting go. If you have things or people in your life that cause your life to be too complex, it's important to let them go. Don't worry -- not letting go of great readers like you! :)

Hi Dani - sorry I haven't checked in for a while, been away on holiday (with no computer!). I loved this article. What particularly stood out for me was:

"What you need in your life is you. You also need things that are bringing you up, not down. If something isn't bringing you up, if it isn't absolutely necessary, stop overvaluing it and let it go."

You have no idea how much I needed to hear those words today. I have trouble letting go of people in my life, even those that have hurt me, and today I realised that although I am hardly a blameless party in the situation that's bothering me, I need to stop feeling guilty and let go because at the end of the day it was bringing me down and not allowing me to move forward. Thank you for making me feel better :)


Green Ink - Thanks so much for the comment. Glad to have you back! I'm so glad you could relate to this post. It's taken me a long time to realize that it's up to me to let go of the negative people in my life. It can be really hard to do sometimes, but it's so important to take action.

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