Five simple words took the breath from my chest and brought tears to my eyes. “We are letting you go,” my boss at the time said quickly, trying to rip the Band-Aid off as he delivered the news. “Someone from HR is waiting downstairs to walk you through the specifics.”

Just like that, my world was flipped upside down. I was forced to walk away from a job I loved but knew deep down I had grown out of. Honestly, Corporate America can be brutal.

But that’s how life goes.

Truth is, the Universe has a way of naturally pruning our lives for us through diagnoses, disasters, deaths and other disruptions. These changes to the status quo challenge us to rise to the occasion—and serve as opportunities for us to embrace more of who we really are and what really matters to us.

But it’s not the only way.

Be honest: When’s the last time you took a long, hard look at your life? I’m talkin’ about a serious inventory of your schedule, commitments, friendships or relationships—anything that requires your literal investment of time and energy. Probably rarely or never, am I right?

Thought so.

Whether on your own accord or by forced hand, letting go is one of the hardest yet healthiest things you can do for yourself. It’s healthy to let go of heartbreak, and embrace healing. It’s healthy to let go of pain, and find perspective. It’s healthy to let go of fake friends and followers, and embrace loyalty.

No matter how you slice it, letting go clears the way for you to grow. And any setback is just another moment for you to make your comeback.

But how can you learn to build and then flex that muscle? Read below to discover seven simple ways you can manifest the power of letting go. I hope these tips help you cultivate peace from your pain and comfort amidst the chaos.

1. Give yourself permission.

Setback mentality: “I don’t know if I’ll ever get past this.”

Comeback mentality: “I’m not sure when or how, but I know I’ll get through this.”

One of the most common excuses for not being able to let go of what’s holding you back? The belief that you just can’t do it. But is that true? Of course it isn’t! We built the atom bomb and put a man on the moon and a rover on Mars. Do you really think you can’t learn to let go and move forward? Perhaps you do. But it’s time to recognize and replace that limiting belief. It’s time to admit to yourself that you are capable. It’s time to give yourself the permission you need to release this burden.

Whether you chant it out loud, say it in your head or write it down on paper—repeat these statements until they really sink in:

I give myself permission to let go of what’s holding me back.

I give myself permission to let go of what’s holding me back.

I give myself permission to let go of what’s holding me back.

I have everything I need to move forward.

I have everything I need to move forward.

I have everything I need to move forward.

I resolve to release this burden.

I resolve to release this burden.

I resolve to release this burden.

Doesn’t it feel good to affirm yourself? I wonder if this is what Elsa felt when she sang, “Let It Go”!

2. Accept that it could not have happened any other way.

Setback mentality: “I can’t believe this happened to me. Things weren’t supposed to be this way.”

Comeback mentality: “This isn’t how I envisioned things happening, but it’s the way things are—and that’s okay.”

It’s so easy to get caught up in how you think things should have been—or what you expected them to look like. But there is only here and now. And there is only the way things are. The sooner you learn to let go of the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” mentality and embrace the current reality, the sooner you’ll cease to perpetuate pain and suffering in your life.

I know what you’re thinking: “Easy for you to just tell me to accept things as they are!” Truth is, you’re right. It is easy for me to say because I’m not in your shoes.

But you only ever truly live in the present moment. It’s time to give yourself a fresh dose of perspective and remember that no amount of wishing things to be different or wallowing in your emotions will change your circumstances. You’re better off saving the energy!

3. Get it out.

Setback mentality: “I can’t deal with this right now. Not with everything else going on. Maybe it’ll just get better on its own.”

Comeback mentality: “I don’t want to deal with this, but I know it’ll only get worse if I don’t confront it head-on.”

Speaking of energy, you likely have a lot of negative vibes pent up inside of you right now. When you’re going through something shocking or traumatic—or even just unexpected or overwhelming—it’s common to clam up, bury your feelings and avoid addressing what’s really bothering you.

But the longer you keep the energy pent up inside, the harder it becomes to contain, until it eventually overflows into other parts of your life (ahem, all those angry blow ups at your colleagues or your significant other). Honestly, the best thing you can do is push into the pain and the discomfort and allow yourself to feel the full magnitude of your emotions. It’s through this process that you learn to cope with the feelings and realize that remaining curious about your triggers can help you spot them in the future and return more quickly to a state of peace.

Learning to sit with yourself in this way is critical to self-growth and not getting stuck in a cycle of making the same mistakes over and over. In order to decipher what you discover, I recommend talking to a friend or a therapist, or writing in a journal. Just get it all out there and don’t keep that poison locked away inside for too long.

4. Focus your attention.

Setback mentality: “I need a distraction.”

Comeback mentality: “I need to do something productive that I enjoy.”

One of the worst parts of experiencing a setback of any kind is feeling like you’re a bit all over the place. News flash: That’s perfectly acceptable and normal when you’re overwhelmed with a crazy day or a major life event. But one of the most helpful and restorative techniques you can practice is to focus your awareness and attention on one thing at a time. Constant distractions and indulgences won’t allow you to get the traction you need to move forward. This simple yet impactful tool will help you ensure the rubber meets the road and that you take measured steps in the direction of your choosing. So whether it’s a hobby, a self-care routine, a budding friendship or a new project at work, find something productive and invest in it. The progress you make in this area will spill over into other aspects of your life—and help you learn to focus your energy as well.

5. Look for lessons and growth opportunities.

Setback mentality: “How come this always happens to me?”

Comeback mentality: “How can I learn from this so it doesn’t happen again?”

I know this may be a hard pill to swallow, but the way you look at what you’ve been through matters far more than what you’ve actually endured. Go ahead—read that again. Your perspective on any given situation is far more important and impactful than what you went through. The most resilient people understand that reinforcing doubts and negative or limiting beliefs is a vicious cycle that’s prohibitive to growth. In other words, reframing a given situation to look for lessons and learning opportunities sets you up for success as opposed to rooting you in the pain of the past.

You can’t go back and change what happened, but you can learn more about yourself and how you can improve—and then apply that to your next opportunity.

Setback mentality: “Can you believe this happened to me? How dare he treat me like this.”

Comeback mentality: “I can’t imagine what he’s going through to make him behave in that way.”

It takes two to tango, but it only takes one to forgive. Always remember that forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. When you recognize that carrying the heavy burden of negative energy cast upon you—often unintentionally—by someone else is silly and pointless, you’ll be far more willing to let go and forgive.

I’m not talking about forgetting; on the contrary, forgiveness is actually choosing to remember without resentment. And that doesn’t mean you allow the same person or circumstance to burn you multiple times. But you can and should be quick to forgive—and truly mean it. You’re better off cutting the cord of negative energy that connects you to that other person so you can move along the path that’s meant for you and not get stuck.

7. Be grateful.

Setback mentality: “I didn’t deserve to go through that.”

Comeback mentality: “I’m glad I went through that because it taught me an important lesson.”

Gratitude is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal because it can turn any situation into a blessing. When you learn to say “thank you!” in the ups and downs of your life, you’ll begin to recognize that the short-term emotional and physical fluctuations in your existence equally equip you with the experience and know-how you need to tackle the challenges you’ll face further down the line. And that’s a beautiful thing!

Plus, one of the best ways to learn to appreciate what you have is to focus on it instead of looking at everything you think you lack. Gratitude is an excellent way to cultivate respect for what you’ve been given in this life of no guarantees.

What setbacks have you bounced back from previously? How did you do it? Share your story in the comments below—or Tweet me at @crackliffe.

Originally published at


  • Chris Rackliffe

    Author and Storyteller

    Chris Rackliffe, or @crackliffe, as he is fondly known by friends and colleagues, is an award-winning storyteller, motivator and marketer who has driven over one billion clicks and over six billion interactions as head of social media for some of the biggest magazines in the world, including Entertainment Weekly, Men’s Health, PEOPLE and more. With a B.S. in Advertising and Psychology from the University of Miami—and a Ph.D. in the School of Life—Chris tells first-person stories that cut straight to the heart. Chris has made it his sole purpose to empower and uplift others and help them find peace, perspective and power through what they’ve endured. You can read his work as published or featured in BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, TIME, Women’s Health and many more.