Have you ever been advised to ‘just let go and move on’ - whether that’s of an unrequited love or an unresolved conflict? To me, it’s the one of the least useful pieces of advice around. Because we’d all do it, if we could. Obviously. If you can’t let go of something it’s because…well, you can’t.
Once, when my heart was smashed to smithereens, I thought longingly of the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which centres around characters erasing memories of the lovers who’ve left them, so they no longer have to live with the pain. Deep down, though, I knew such a shortcut - if it existed in reality - wouldn’t really be an answer. We always have to grieve a bit and learn the lessons from these situations before we can feel better.
So all I could do was give it time and distance myself from the situation. I couldn’t let go but I could do something else - something the late Sally Brampton, brilliant journalist and agony aunt, told me about when we worked together several years ago. ‘I never tell people to let it go,’ she said. ‘I prefer to think of letting it be.’
Letting it be simply means leaving it alone - whatever it is. You stop engaging and you stop trying. You don’t necessarily stop feeling sad/angry/frustrated/whatever, not straight away - perhaps not even for a long time. But you stop putting your energy into something (or someone). Letting go is - annoyingly - rarely something you can do at will. Letting it be, though, is always possible.