Holding On Hurts More Than Letting Go

Last Updated on June 13th, 2023

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Whether it’s a relationship broken beyond repair or the loss of a loved one, many times throughout our lives, it is ingrained into the very fabric of our being.

Holding on is often just as painful or even more painful as it hurts to let go. Unfortunately, there is an unhealthy notion that we can control everything in our lives and that there is stability and permanence when the opposite is true.

Keep reading to learn about why holding on can be more painful, how to let go, and more about recovery.


Two hands almost touching each other casting shadow on a wall - Holding On Hurts More Than Letting Go

Which is more Painful, Letting Go or Holding Pn?

Many people say that letting go of things is one of the most painful experiences of their entire lifetime. Even so, letting go and moving on with life has allowed these same people to recover and live full lives.

One has to realize that nothing is permanent, especially in our relatively short lives. The old saying “this too shall pass” is often quoted but can often be interpreted in one of two ways:


  1. Nothing is permanent, and so I will despair over my loss
  2. Nothing is permanent, so I will enjoy what comes to the fullest, knowing it won’t always be this way


Why is Holding on Harder Than Letting Go?

Holding on is harder and more painful than letting go because you constantly and purposefully choose to remember a loss or tragedy. This significantly affects your mental well-being, which can, in turn, affect your physical health.

By choosing to hold on, you expend some energy and willpower every day simply to cling to a negative aspect of your life. This is unhealthy and illogical, even from an emotional standpoint.

Holding on also makes it harder for the people around you, especially if they have moved on.

Family and friends can empathize with your experience and know the pain you are going through, but seeing you wither into a shell of your former self is harder on them than you realize.


How Do You Let Go Even When it Hurts?

Letting go isn’t easy by any means. It takes a plethora of time and will hurt the whole time you try to let go, but you cannot truly live the rest of your life if you continue to hold on.

No matter what the situation is, letting go (also known as acceptance) is part of the grieving process. The most common model for how we grieve is the five stages of grief by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. The five stages are:


  1. Denial – clinging to the belief that the situation isn’t real because it is unfavorable
  2. Anger – rage projected outwards toward others when realizing the reality of a situation
  3. Bargaining – typically praying or promises of reforming your life in exchange for avoiding further pain
  4. Depression – despair overcomes individuals, and they say or do little to nothing
  5. Acceptance – looking towards the future as the inevitable occurs


How Can You Recover from it?

No one can tell you exactly how to recover from holding on by letting go – it is a very personal process that varies greatly between individuals. The only thing certain is that recovery takes time, so don’t try to rush your healing.

Some things that people typically find help them include:


  • Spending time in nature
  • Talking about your emotions to people without judgment, like a bereavement counselor or a therapist
  • Finding a new hobby to throw yourself into
  • Reflecting on the positive aspects of the asset


Only you can figure out what helps you and what doesn’t, so try lots of different things when you feel up to it.


How Long Does it Take to Stop Holding Onto it?

The length of time you might spend letting go of something changes from person to person. If you are very emotional, it might take longer than someone with a more logical mindset or can easily compartmentalize their feelings.

Other factors like how long you were invested in a situation like a romantic relationship can increase or decrease how long it takes to stop holding on and start letting go.

Some people can recover within a few days, but people can take months or years to fully come to terms with letting go – it might even take a lifetime.


Final Thoughts on Holding On Hurts More Than Letting Go

Letting go is not necessarily the same as forgetting, but it is part of learning to live with your new reality. Every person’s journey is intimately personal and can take a long time.

Remember that holding on is sometimes worse than letting go, especially because it often goes against the wishes of departed loved ones and hurts others around you who have moved on.

Whatever you decide to do, try not to isolate yourself from a support network of friends and family. If need be, consult a professional who can help you with these extremely stressful times.

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