For years, I’ve always tied happiness with acquiring more things or achieving grand milestones. It took a real wake-up call for me to realize that while achieving all those things brought fleeting moments of joy, sometimes, there are also things that we need to let go of for us to find inner peace and be happier in life.
The things to let go of to be happy often aren’t really material possessions but rather deep-seated beliefs, habits, and thinking patterns that not only impact our mental health but also keep us from finding true happiness.
For the longest time, it felt like I was constantly chasing happiness. Every step I took was guided by the notion that if I just achieved this milestone or got this specific thing, then I’d finally be happy. But that wasn’t the case. While there’s certainly no denying that achieving those things brought me happiness, that type of happiness didn’t really last.
Sooner than I expected it would be overshadowed by a new goal or a new desire. It was like I was constantly trapped in a never-ending cycle of wanting and achieving, only to find myself feeling empty and unfulfilled once again.
Hitting my rock bottom made me realize that finding genuine happiness is not always about achieving big milestones and acquiring a lot of things, often, it’s about creating a healthy mindset and letting go of limiting beliefs and habits that are only pulling us away from true joy and contentment.
In this post, I will be sharing with you the things I’ve let go to help me find true happiness, peace and contentment. I’m hoping that letting go of these things will also guide you toward a life where happiness isn’t just a fleeting emotion.
Things To Let Go Of To Be Happy
1. Worrying About Things Beyond Your Control
For years, I have spent so much time and energy trying to control every little aspect of my life thinking that doing this would ensure that everything would go according to my plans. But of course, that wasn’t always the case.
Spending so much time and effort controlling every little detail of my life did not prevent things from going wrong. I can honestly say that doing that only led to more anxiety, stress, and frustration when things don’t go as planned. The thing is, regardless of how hard we try, there will always be things that are beyond our control.
And if we continue to spend all our energy, attention, and time on those things, we are only setting ourselves up for constant disappointment and unnecessary stress. Honestly, my relentless pursuit of control over every aspect of my life was not only so exhausting and mentally draining but it was also making me so unhappy.
I’ve learned that while it’s perfectly okay and natural to want to control our surroundings and outcomes, it’s also important for us to recognize the fine line between planning and relentless control.
Letting go of things beyond our control doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have goals or that we should constantly leave everything to chance. It means focusing our energy on the things that we can truly influence and accepting the things that are beyond our grasp.
When we learn to let go of the uncontrollable things, we not only free ourselves from the stress and anxiety of constantly trying to mold every outcome in our lives, but we are also finally giving ourselves the space to find peace and to breathe.
For the longest time, I’ve held my perfectionism like it was a badge of honor and at the same time my shield, guarding me against judgment, criticism, and most importantly my fear of failure. Growing up, I was told that failure was not an option and that every mistake that I made was a direct testament to my abilities and worth.
As I grew older, I realized that society seemed to echo the same belief. Everyone praised perfection, flawlessness, and those who never seemed to show any weakness. This only magnified my need to be perfect. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I missed opportunities and refused to try new things and step out of my comfort zone because I was so terrified that I wouldn’t be able to maintain the high standards that I’d set for myself.
Let me tell you, living that kind of life, constantly chasing perfection was just so emotionally draining and it was constantly making me hate myself and making me so unhappy. Now, I truly believe that perfection is just an illusion.
We are only human. We are all bound to stumble and make mistakes. We all have shortcomings and flaws but that doesn’t mean that we are no longer worthy of love, understanding, and second chances.
While there’s certainly nothing wrong with aiming high, it’s important for us to constantly remind ourselves that aiming for excellence and perfection are two different things. Excellence leaves room for growth and learning and it is about doing our best with the resources and knowledge that we currently have.
While perfection is only about setting ourselves up to these unrealistic standards that will only lead to us questioning our abilities and criticizing ourselves. Please know that you don’t have to keep striving for perfection just to be worthy and enough.
Your worth and value are inherent. Please remember that you are enough and worthy just as you are now. Allow yourself to embrace who you are, flaws and all. Know that being yourself is enough and you don’t have to keep striving for perfection.
You deserve to give yourself a safe space to make mistakes, learn and grow.
Here’s a great post that’ll help you learn how to overcome perfectionism from WebMD.
3. Suppressing Emotions
I’ve always had a difficult time being vulnerable. Every time, I would go through difficult and painful moments, I would always choose to run away from what I was feeling, instead of actually facing my emotions head-on.
I had this notion that if I just continued to bottle all of them up then maybe sooner or later, it would all just go away. So, I kept pretending to everyone, even to myself, that I was perfectly okay.
But the thing about suppressing our emotions is they don’t really go away, they just sink deeper and intensifying over time, making it so much more difficult for us to carry the weight of it. Running away from what I was feeling didn’t make me “okay”.
It was just an illusion because the reality is that true healing will only come if we finally allow ourselves to sit with what we are feeling and acknowledge all our emotions. I’ve learned that while suppressing my emotions did offer me temporary relief, in the long run, the burden of it just became too much leading me to my breaking point.
Over time, I’ve learned that sitting with my feelings doesn’t mean that I was wallowing in them. Allowing ourselves a safe space to feel our feelings meant giving ourselves the grace to understand them, to process and eventually, to move forward. The only way for us to truly heal, find inner peace, and be happier is if we finally allow ourselves the chance to feel every emotion.
Please don’t hesitate to allow yourself to truly feel. Talk to someone, journal, cry, shout if you must. Know that vulnerability is never a sign of weakness. I actually believe that it takes immense strength to face our emotions head-on.
4. The Need For External Validation
It’s so easy to start believing that our worth and value are tied to other people’s opinions of us. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I’ve overextended myself to other people believing that my worth was based on their approval or validation.
I spent so much time and effort trying to mold myself into what I believed they wanted me to be. I pushed myself to meet all of their expectations believing that this was the only way for me to be enough.
And let me tell you, living that kind of life was so exhausting. It was making me so miserable. I failed to realize that by constantly chasing other people’s validation, I was also living my life based on their own standards. The real me got buried under layers of people-pleasing.
If you’re also guilty of doing this, please know that your value and worth are never tied to other people’s opinions. You are worthy and enough just as you are now. The only validation that you will ever need is your own. You deserve to live the life that you want and not the life that others expect of you.
Life is far too precious to waste it relentlessly trying to fit certain molds based on someone else’s ideals. You don’t have to gain their approval to be worthy. Please remember that your worth is inherent.
You deserve to finally let go of the weight of others’ expectations. I’ve learned that those who truly matter will love and support you for who you truly are, not for the facade you put on to please them.
So, please don’t hesitate to pursue what truly sets YOUR soul on fire and start creating the life that YOU love.
5. Hesitating To Set Boundaries
Are also guilty of constantly saying yes to other people regardless of how exhausted and drained you already feel? How many times have you prioritized others’ needs over your own, even when it left you feeling overwhelmed and stressed?
I certainly know how this feels. I can’t even count the number of times, I’ve overextended myself, trying to accommodate everyone’s requests, hoping to be seen as someone helpful and reliable.
I didn’t realize that by constantly saying yes to other people and saying no to myself, I was chipping away at a little piece of my own well-being and happiness.
One of the lessons that I’ve learned from hitting rock bottom is that consistently putting others first is not an act of love or selflessness. I’ve realized that when we refuse to set boundaries, we are silently showing other people and even ourselves that our feelings and well-being don’t matter.
Setting healthy boundaries is not about being unkind or just shutting other people out entirely. It is about recognizing that just like everyone else, you also have your own value, worth, and needs that have to be acknowledged and respected. Please remember that it’s okay to prioritize yourself from time to time.
It’s okay to listen to your body and mind and to respect your own limits. Doing this doesn’t mean that you care less about other people. One of the greatest lessons that I’ve learned is that the only people who object to your boundaries are the ones who are thriving and benefiting from you having none.
6. Neglecting Self Care
It’s easy to make time for self care when everything around you is going smoothly but when everything around you is going wrong, making time for self care is probably the last thing on your mind. This is exactly what I felt.
When I was struggling in life, I wanted to focus all my attention and energy on doing everything that I could to turn my life around. Self care was not even on my mind. I took my mental health for granted believing that the best thing to do was to just ignore it and push through all the challenges that I was facing.
I didn’t realize that the more I refused to make time for self care and neglected my mental health, the more difficult it was for me to focus, be productive, and keep pushing through. I finally realized that self care isn’t a luxury or something that we only do when everything around us is going perfectly.
The reality is that there is actually no better time to practice self care than during moments of chaos, difficulty, and stress. If you’re also guilty of taking self care for granted, please know that prioritizing your well-being is never a waste of time.
I actually believe that self care is a necessity. We all need to make time for ourselves, to recharge and refocus. I’ve learned that it’s actually during the moments when we take time for ourselves that we find the strength and the clarity that we need to keep moving forward.
Know that we don’t have to spend countless hours and even money to practice self care. I’ve learned that even the smallest act of choosing to prioritize rest and allowing ourselves even a few minutes to step back, breathe, and stay in the present moment, can have a huge impact on our overall well-being and happiness.
- How to be Happy – 30 Day Happiness Challenge
- 10 Small Ways To Make Your Life Better
- 10 Ways To Start Finding Happiness Within Yourself
7. Negative Self Talk
Are you also guilty of being your harshest critic? I know how this feels. For years, I have always been my worst critic. I would constantly beat myself up for even the smallest mistake and I relentlessly put myself down with every failure.
At that moment, I actually believed that being my worst critic was the best thing to do. I thought that constantly criticizing every little mistake that I’ve made would make me more responsible and less likely to make the same mistakes again. I thought that putting myself down would push me to work even harder and motivate me more to achieve my goals.
But what it actually did was the exact opposite. I didn’t realize soon enough that constantly talking negatively towards myself was negatively impacting my confidence and self worth. It made me start questioning my capabilities.
It made me start believing that I wasn’t really good enough to achieve anything and frankly, it just made me feel more hopeless. I’ve learned that growth comes in a place of understanding and compassion.
One of the best things that we can do for ourselves, is to meet our shortcomings with understanding instead of judgments and criticisms. Embracing our flaws and imperfections and practicing self compassion doesn’t mean that we are being self indulgent. It doesn’t make us soft or complacent.
Self compassion is about acknowledging your imperfections and mistakes without harsh self-criticisms. Know that by providing yourself a safe space to grow, make mistakes, and learn, you are actually empowering yourself to be more willing to step outside your comfort zone, and persevere in the face of challenges and setbacks.
Please remember that you deserve to give yourself the same amount of love, kindness, and understanding that you so freely give to your loved ones. It’s time to stop being your worst critic and finally start learning how to be your own best friend.
If you want to learn how to start loving yourself more, take this 30 day self love challenge now.
Forgiveness for me has never been easy. When I was growing up, I was deeply hurt by some people that I love. They made me believe that for me to be worthy, I always had to meet their expectations. If I fall short of those expectations then it is a direct testament to my worth, value, and capabilities.
And to be honest, I took that anger with me as I grew older. I held on to it and I’ve allowed it to consume me. At that time, I actually believed that doing that would somehow protect me.
That somehow holding on to my resentments and grudges meant my guard was always up and in that way, I would never be hurt again. But holding on to my anger didn’t protect me, what it actually did was keep me stuck in the past. By allowing myself to cling to that resentment, I was also allowing them to hurt me over and over again.
Every time, I replayed those painful memories in my mind, I was giving power to those who wronged me. By refusing to let go of those grudges, I was also keeping myself from healing and from truly moving forward.
One of the important things that helped made forgiveness a little easier for me is remembering that forgiveness is not about minimizing the pain that has been caused or excusing the actions of those who have hurt us. Instead, it is about choosing to free ourselves from the grip of the past and finally allow ourselves to live in the present.
I realized that forgiving others doesn’t mean that I was invalidating my feelings or experiences. It only meant that I was finally choosing to free myself from the pain of the past and giving myself the space to truly heal and move forward with my life.
9. Toxic Habits
I have always been guilty of self sabotage. For the longest time, I’ve allowed myself to hold on to toxic habits and even relationships just because they felt familiar and comfortable.
I convinced myself that sticking with what I knew was so much safer than opening myself up to change and the unknown. It didn’t matter that I was already feeling so lost, stuck, and unhappy, I believed that it was still better to hold on to what I knew than to step into the unknown.
But allowing ourselves to continue holding on to toxic habits will not only keep us from growing, but it will also cause us unhappiness and unfulfillment. Because the reality is that refusing to let go of the things that are no longer serving us, will only drag us into a cycle of regret, unhappiness, and discontentment.
I know that admitting to ourselves that certain habits and even relationships are toxic is not always easy. I know how difficult it can be to face the reality that some of the things that we’ve grown comfortable with are detrimental to our mental health and overall well-being.
Admitting this reality to ourselves requires courage. Yes, it’s not going to be easy but it’s also going to be worth it in the long run. By letting go of these toxic habits, we are making space for healing, growth, and positive transformation.
10. Resisting Help
I have always had a hard time asking for help. It was never my strong suit. I remember when I was going through a difficult period in my life, I pretended to everyone around me that I was okay.
I kept telling myself that I didn’t need anybody’s help believing that since this was my problem, then naturally, I should be the only one to fix it. Also, truth be told, I was also terrified to ask for help because I thought that doing this would only burden other people.
I know that they probably have their own problems and I didn’t want to burden them with mine. If you feel the same way, I want you to know this: one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned from navigating the lowest point of my life is that regardless of what you may think, the people who truly care for you will never see you as a burden.
Not only will they be more than willing to listen to you and help you but they will also greatly appreciate the trust that you have given them by opening up. It’s perfectly okay to ask for help.
While being self-reliant is certainly commendable, it’s important for us to remember the difference between being independent and isolation. I’ve learned that true strength is about recognizing when to stand alone and when to lean on others.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Asking for help is never a sign of weakness nor is it a testament to your capabilities. It is an act of courage. I truly believe that it takes great strength to admit that we need help.
Life can be difficult sometimes, we all need someone in our corner every now and then and that’s perfectly okay.
11. Delaying Joy
I have always been guilty of seeing happiness as a destination. Something that I always have to chase after. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I’ve said, “I’ll be happy when I achieve this.”
The problem with setting these conditions for my happiness is it became a never-ending cycle. Every time, I would reach one goal, another one would easily fill its place. The happiness it brought was only fleeting and would quickly be overshadowed by a new desire.
Over time, I’ve realized that delaying joy was not only robbing me of appreciating the present moment but it also made me overlook the simple pleasures of my life. It felt like I was constantly running after something. It was exhausting and ultimately it just made me feel more unfulfilled.
The more that I continued to delay my happiness, the more I was only setting myself up for disappointment and frustration. Because the reality is, sometimes our “when” might never happen or when it does happen, we may feel like it’s not really living up to our expectations.
The best thing that we can do is to find joy in the present moment and appreciate what we have right now. Time is fleeting and waiting for the perfect moment to be happy means we might miss out on so many opportunities to experience joy now.
Please know that the things I’ve mentioned above are certainly not strict guidelines. These are just the things I let go of that helped me find inner peace and be happier in life.
The things to let go of to be happy might differ for each individual. Ultimately, we all have different journeys and each of us goes through unique challenges and face different obstacles.
The important thing is to allow yourself a chance to reflect on the things that are holding you back in life and the things that are keeping you unhappy and unfulfilled. Maybe it’s something that I’ve mentioned above or it can be something totally different. That’s okay. The important thing is to be honest with yourself.
Before I end this post, please know that the process of letting go of these things is not going to be straightforward nor is it going to be a one-time event. It’s a journey. There will be days when you might find yourself revisiting old habits. During those days, please don’t be hard on yourself. Know that what you’re going through is completely normal.
Keep reminding yourself that growth and healing takes time, patience, and perseverance. The important thing is you keep going. You can do this.
I’m always rooting for you!