The idea of letting go applies to many different facets of life, from forgiveness to releasing trapped emotions.
Whether it’s past trauma, emotional difficulty or unrequited love, letting go simply means leaving these ideas in the past and embracing your current reality.
It’s arguably very hard to achieve. So, if you want to learn how to move on from past experiences, start with these 5 best books on letting go.
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Best Books on Letting Go
1. Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender – David Hawkins
David Hawkins spent his career as a psychiatrist, so probably knows a thing or two about emotions. His book is based on knowledge from his career, along with an understanding of Enlightenment.
While it won’t help you achieve this, it instead focuses on removing negativity from your life. It discusses physical and mental health, financial stability, and emotional and sexual wellness.
The book identifies common sources of negativity in our everyday lives and then explains how to overcome them. Rather than using exercises, it’s more of a question-and-answer format.
However, Hawkins does make some claims that aren’t necessarily supported by rigorous science. While some are just to illustrate his point, it can be difficult to separate factual information from “contextual banter”.
- Covers a wide range of topics.
- Uses the author’s personal experience.
- Helpful practical examples.
- Difficult to separate facts from unsubstantiated claims.
2. This is Me Letting You Go – Heidi Priebe
Priebe’s book is built on the understanding that letting go is an unnatural process. It argues that we find it difficult because it goes against everything we’re taught.
Throughout the book, Priebe addresses what it really means to let go and how difficult this is. It’s not a self-help book as such, as it’s far more serious in its treatment of the subject.
It’s written in essays rather than the typical chapter format of a self-help book. But, the sections are short and structured so you never feel overwhelmed by the content on offer. Although serious, it’s a very poignant and emotional book.
One of the biggest benefits of this structure is that you don’t need to read everything. You can skip to the most applicable section without relying on the information that came before.
The biggest downside is that this book is designed for romantic relationships. While not a massive issue, the content isn’t applicable to other letting go scenarios.
- Conversational but serious style.
- Easy to jump to the most relevant section.
- Short, structured sections.
- Only suitable for romantic relationships.
3. Letting Go of Anger: The Eleven Most Common Anger Styles and What to do About Them – Ronald and Patricia Potter-Efron
As the title suggests, this book looks at how to identify and manage anger problems. Anger often has a root cause, and this book helps you understand and manage why you get angry.
The way it separates and explains the 11 types of anger is helpful. Many don’t realise there are different kinds, so it’s easier to narrow down which is the most applicable.
Importantly, too, it doesn’t shame us for expressing anger. Instead, it looks at anger insightfully and without judgement, making it much easier to let go.
However, it spends a lot of time explaining the types of anger and doesn’t cover how to let go in much detail. Considering this is the point of a book like this, it’s slightly limiting.
- Informative for those trying to identify anger.
- Beneficial for those who are self-aware.
- Doesn’t go into much depth about how to let go of anger.
4. Emotionally Free: Letting Go of the Past to Live in the Moment – David Viscott
This book takes a broad approach to identifying and managing emotional baggage. It’ll help you identify your strengths and weaknesses so you can understand how to move forwards with your life.
It’s written in a concise and informative way that should appeal to the “everyday” reader. Many self-help books get bogged down in fluffy language, so this is a refreshing change.
Of course, you still have to read the book intelligently to ignore the parts that don’t apply to you. Luckily, the language and style make it much easier than with other books.
The book contains useful exercises for identifying emotional problems. However, contrary to the rest of the book, some aren’t that easy to understand. You might find yourself reading them several times and questioning your answers.
- No-nonsense style.
- Helps you identify and manage emotional baggage.
- Easy to pick and choose which bits you use.
- Exercises are sometimes unclear.
5. Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be: Lessons on Change, Loss, and Spiritual Transformation – Surya Das
This book focuses on loss and how it changes us as people. Letting go is, at its heart, about loss. Whether voluntary or compulsory, letting go boils down to losing something. As a companion guide to loss, then, this book is very helpful.
It moves between exercises, meditations, anecdotes and other writing to offer plenty of variety. The writing is quite witty, too, making it easy to read.
Surya Das is an American Lama (Buddhist teacher), so the book obviously relies on aspects of spiritualism related to Enlightenment. However, it’s not religious spirituality, so it should be fine for secular readers.
But, it doesn’t provide explicit self-help. Rather, it’s more of a “biography”, meaning the reader must extract their own advice from it. While this is fine, it won’t be suitable for everyone.
- Witty writing.
- Includes a variety of stories and writing styles.
- Uses Buddhist spirituality practices.
- Not an explicit self-help book.
Letting go takes practise because it’s generally an unnatural concept. However, when learned consciously, it’s incredibly useful in all aspects of life.
If you’re new to the idea of letting go, hopefully one of the books above will teach you the necessary skills to move on.