skip to Main Content
Effective Online Counseling...Only a Click Away! || Make an Appointment Today!

Emotional Baggage – Holding On 6 ways to Let Go

Carl Richards,   “There is an actual cost to holding onto things we should let go of. It can come in the form of anger, frustration, resentment or something even worse. I’m talking about everything from stewing about the guy who cut you off in traffic this morning to still refusing to forgive an old friend for an event 20 years ago”.

“The question is, can you really afford to keep paying the bill”?

He quotes a story from Jon Muth’s book “Zen Shorts”: Published 2005:

“Two traveling monks reached a town where there was a young woman waiting to step out of her sedan chair. The rains had made deep puddles and she couldn’t step across without spoiling her silken robes. She stood there, looking very cross and impatient. She was scolding her attendants. They had nowhere to place the packages they held for her, so they couldn’t help her across the puddle.

The younger monk noticed the woman, said nothing, and walked by. The older monk quickly picked her up and put her on his back, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other side. She didn’t thank the older monk; she just shoved him out of the way and departed.

As they continued on their way, the young monk was brooding and preoccupied. After several hours, unable to hold his silence, he spoke out. “That woman back there was very selfish and rude, but you picked her up on your back and carried her! Then, she didn’t even thank you!”

“I set the woman down hours ago,” the older monk replied. “Why are you still carrying her?”

Health practitioners of all stripes appreciate the mental and physical costs of “holding on”: especially those heavier burdens such as grief, loss, long-term anger at an “Ex”, similar traumas.  The technical term for physical manifestation of mental issues is “Somatoform Disorders”.

The symptoms involve several different organs and body systems. The patient may report a combination of: Pain, Neurologic problems, Gastrointestinal complaints, Sexual symptoms- even live, eventually, a shortened life.

(Omaya, O. American Family Physician, Nov. 1, 2007.First, M. and Tasman, A., Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on May 29, 2014,

Holding on to what Richards describes as affronts at the hands of others is tantamount to your taking poison and expecting them to die.

Richards offers, “The faster we learn to drop our emotional dead weight, the more room we create for something better.”

He suggests:

  1. Go ahead and pick something. A fight with your spouse, something a politician said, your team losing the big game. Pick it, drop it and then…
  2. For just a moment, simply pause and savor what it feels like to no longer carry that burden and pay that price.
  3. Go for a walk. If it’s extra peace, take five deep breaths.
  4. Play with your kids.
  5. Take a nap.
  6. Just do something that makes you feel the opposite of how you felt before you let go.

(Carl Richards, your-money/the-cost-of-holding-on NY Times, Aug 23, 2016.)

Still find it difficult to let go (especially of those heavier burdens)?

Here is where Counseling on Demand comes in.

We can guide you along the path of “fits and starts” toward helping you to carry a         lighter burden.

We are online at

We are only a click away.

I am the Founder and CEO of Counseling On Demand with a Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy with over 25 years of experience in helping Individuals, Couples, Adolescents, and Families who struggle with a wide variety of Life's Challenges. I thus have developed an Array of Effective Counseling Tools and Evidenced-Based Interventions to help you towards Your Road to Better Mental Health and Wellness. You are Never Alone...I look forward to meeting with you or your family member soon!