GUEST POST: Finding Strength Through Letting Go

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Sometimes, holding on does more damage than letting go.

Shola’s Note: Hey Solutionists! In my effort to introduce you to some amazing people who are working hard to make this world a more positive place, I have a treat for you! On this month’s Solutionist Spotlight, I have the honor of presenting (for the second time!) career strategist, positivity enthusiast and corporate trainer extraordinaire, Sherry Dodge. Her first guest post was so good, that I had to ask her to come back. So, without further ado, here’s Sherry!

Sometimes, holding on does more damage than letting go.” -Unknown

A few days ago I saw this quote on a friend’s Facebook feed and it hit me like a ton of bricks. The message had come at just the right time.

In the weeks prior, I had been struggling with an unfortunate misunderstanding that had occurred with a close friend, and I was right in the middle of over-analyzing, second-guessing and dealing with all kinds of emotions (namely–sadness, bitterness, confusion, guilt and disappointment.)

Maybe you’ve experienced something like this too.

The incident had seemingly destroyed our friendship overnight and, rather than accepting how things were, I fought with every fiber of my being to hold on to how I thought things should be. How the other person should react. How we should be able to find a resolution because that’s what rational and reasonable people do.

But something happened to me the tighter I grasped.

I thought that if I fought harder to make things right, this person would eventually see my perspective and everything would return to “normal.” But it didn’t quite work out that way. In fact, the opposite happened.

It was like I was playing a game of tug-of-war where the other end of the rope was firmly attached to a fence post. The efforts were futile. All I was doing was tiring myself out, losing sleep and further alienating my friend.

“Sometimes holding on does more damage than letting go.”

In this case, most of the damage was being done to me.

Knowing When to Let Go

Our culture has taught us to value tenacity, persistence, determination and a “never give up” mentality. We equate these values with strength. While these values have served me in many, many situations and have their time and place, they have been a disservice at times as well.

Think about all of the things that we hold onto:

  • Feelings of regret and guilt for things we’ve said or mistakes we’ve made
  • New Year’s Resolutions that we didn’t take the time to fully think through and plan out
  • Relationships that no longer suit us and start to become a burden
  • Expectations for ourselves and others that are unrealistic
  • Jobs that are not fulfilling
  • Perfection
  • Habits that we are just too lazy to change
  • Ideas about who we are supposed to be (either self-imposed or imposed by others)

Sometimes we become so attached to these things that we forget why we are doing them in the first place. Many times, we’ll stick with what is familiar and comfortable, even if it is painful.

Holding On

Photo credit: @thedoctorasky

It’s time for the pain to stop.

It may not be easy to accept, but what serves us at one point in our lives does not always continue to serve us as we grow and change. Sometimes being strong and being resilient means finding the strength to let those things/people go.

Maybe it’s not how we planned it. Maybe it’s not how it should have been. Even so, there is great freedom in letting go of that control, accepting what is without resistance, and discovering the lesson that is lurking just beneath the surface.

Here are three things that have helped me to come to terms with “what is” and to be more accepting and resilient.

1. Forgive Yourself First

If you’re like me, when you make a mistake you might tend to replay it in your head over and over again, beating yourself up and forcing yourself to relive the painful experience time and time again, usually long after everyone else has forgotten about it.

To an extent, we are processing what happened and are learning from it, but at a certain point it becomes a form of self-torture that really isn’t necessary.

Sometimes you can’t turn back the clock, you don’t get a “do-over” and you must learn, forgive and move forward. You can take accountability by recognizing your role in the problem and doing something to address it, but you don’t have to take all of the depressing emotions with you. They only keep you trapped in the past.

When I was a little kid and made a mistake my dad would always say, “Well, there’s nothing we can do about what happened in the past, so let’s focus on what we can do going forward to make this better.”

I was always so thankful and relieved when he would say this because it let me off the hook. It allowed me to forgive myself and to focus on something more productive. Ruminating over the negative serves no useful purpose and takes a heck of a toll on our health.

Your mistakes do not define you, but they do teach you something of value, if you are open to the lesson.

By forgiving yourself, you give yourself a fresh start, incredible peace of mind, and the permission to focus your energy on the present.

2. Most People are Doing the Best They Can

Sometimes we have unrealistic expectations of others and this sets us up for some serious disappointment.

At the end of the day, we all make mistakes, do things we regret, or act in ways that we shouldn’t have. The truth is that most people are doing the best they can.

If we choose to hold a grudge and not forgive others for hurt they have caused, we are only hurting ourselves. Like Buddhist scripture says “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”  Why would you do that!?

There is a general misconception that forgiveness is being done for the benefit of the other person.  The truth is, you can forgive someone who you feel doesn’t deserve it, who isn’t sorry for what they’ve done, or who you feel has wronged you.

Forgiveness is ultimately for you.

It allows you to free up your thoughts and your energy and move on with your life. It’s up to you to decide whether someone or something deserves your valuable time, energy and attention, but no matter what you decide, remember that forgiveness is a powerful act of strength.

3. View Life as Your School House

When we think about life as one giant school house, as a place to learn, try new things, put ourselves out there and take risks, it only makes sense that we will make mistakes. Lots of them.

I love the perspective that says, “There are no mistakes or failures in life, there are only lessons.” When we stop assigning labels to things (good/bad, success/failure, right/wrong), we see that from every “mistake” comes an opportunity to grow and to come out stronger on the other side.

This isn’t easy, but try to see everyone and everything as your teachers, and see the people and circumstances that come into your path as opportunities to learn.

Sometimes we learn how to better communicate, sometimes we learn how to empathize, sometimes we learn that it’s time to move on from something that we no longer need or that is not healthy for us. Things are not always as they appear. Sometimes, what we perceive as “huge mistakes” end up being the best things that ever happened to us, as they change the course of our lives for the better in ways we never expected.

Sometimes letting go is the way that we propel ourselves forward.

Are You Ready to Let Go?

Letting go isn’t easy.

It takes a huge amount of strength and a lot of guts to say, “This no longer serves me.”  But letting go of something often brings us renewed energy, greater strength, and an amazing sense of freedom.

When you give up your expectations of how things should be, you open yourself up to experiencing your school house of life in an entirely new way. Letting go of something that no longer serves you leads to change, and that change has the potential to transform everything.

Are you ready to let go?

Meet Sherry

Sherry Dodge

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Sherry Dodge is a passionate corporate trainer, coach and positivity enthusiast based in Los Angeles, CA. In her work at UCLA, she aims to empower and inspire individuals to achieve their full potential, both personally and professionally. She loves outdoor adventures and spends her spare time surfing, rock climbing, swimming, white water rafting and seeking new travel adventures.



Founder of The Positivity Solution
Author, keynote speaker, and kindness extremist who is committed to changing the world by helping as many people as possible to live and work with more positivity.

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  1. Cheers and high fives for a wonderful post, Sherry! Well-timed for me and my struggle of letting go of a relationship that does not serve me any more. Letting go is a process, one I’ve found cathartic and liberating. Thank you!

    • Thank you, Sharon! It sounds like you have made a choice that is really good for you. That’s something to be proud of and feel so good about! I agree…it is definitely a process. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Thank you Sherry!! Loved this post! It has helped me to assure myself that I did the right thing in removing a very toxic person from my life and move on. I really appreciate your words, this post will go to my favorites list! 🙂

    • Hi Sofia! That’s such great news! I’m so glad that this article provided some reassurance. Thank you so much for your kind words!

  3. It is heavier when I already let that person go, but everybody blames me for everything and accuses me for everything I never do and/or did. It is very heavy, actually. I already let him go, and I have to face people who hate me, actually for nothing. I don’t know why they spend all day to hate me since they can see the fact that he left for maybe somebody else whom he desires more. It is just his taste, and it is basically not my fault. Nobody should be responsible for anybody else’s taste. I wonder why people around me just cannot accept that it is just basically about his taste. And I think nobody should be blamed for anybody else’s true taste. Everybody will struggle to fulfill his/her taste, sometimes unconsciously, and this unconsciousness usually will bring anyone to see ‘the pair’ as a binary pair of good/bad, right/wrong, saint/sinner, etc, and then the whole event or ‘context’ will not be seen just as the dynamic of the relationship. And when it is ended, it is just over, like other relationships. Everything changes, everybody fulfills his/her taste, that’s all.
    Anyway, I found the best sentence on the post, ‘sometimes everything is not what it seems (like)’, but maybe there are also things that are what they seem, but they are ‘constructed’ as different things, a posteriori just to justify (maybe) the collective (unconscious) taste.’, I think it will be good also for everyone, not just for people who are struggling to let go.

    • Hi Titi! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. First of all, I’m sorry you’re feeling some push back or some judgment from others about your situation. That can be a lot to process. A few really great things stood out to me about what you said. One is that it truly is not anybody’s fault. I am not a relationship expert by any means, but I do know that relationships are complex! There are so many factors, on both sides, that contribute to the dynamic. It’s not always as black and white as it may seem to people on the outside. And secondly, I found your comment that ‘sometimes things ARE as they seem but they are constructed into something else (maybe even subconsciously)’ to be extremely insightful. To me this speaks to our perceptions…we all see the world through different lenses, and even those lenses may shift and change as a result of our life experience. My perception may be different than someone else’s but that doesn’t make one good and one bad, or one right and one wrong. Our perception is our reality and no two people see the world in exactly the same way. And sometimes we assign labels to things in an effort to simplify them, even when those labels aren’t 100% accurate. These are such great things for all of us to think about. Thank you again for sharing your experience!

  4. Listening twice, speaking less. I Am letting Go! I Am a Soldier in training.

    • Hi Coleetah! Thank you for your comment! I am a soldier in training as well. Life is full of lessons and each one makes us stronger! 🙂

  5. Great post Shari,
    It was spot on. How fortunate you were to have a dad that could put your “mistakes” in proper perspective and not negatively judge YOU or your worth at the same time. There is an old saying that goes something like “When one door closes, another one opens. But too many people spend spend so much time focused on the closed door that they never see the other ones opening.” Wise words, but sometimes not so easy to change one’s focus. Thanks for writing this. Powerful and liberating.

  6. Beautiful message, Sherry!! I had a similar experience scrolling through Twitter many months ago–I saw “let go or be dragged” and it felt like a literal hit to my gut. I’m letting go of a lot this year 🙂

  7. Sher! This is so awesome! xoxo

  8. Great read, Sherry! When we stop “shoulding” all over ourselves, we open up to great learning opportunities.

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