Knowing When and How to Let Go

Knowing When and How to Let Go

Uiara (Pronounced Ui-ara) has been traveling back and forth from her native Brazil for quite some time now. It was during one of those business trips that she met her partner Jaren. They’ve been seeing each other for the past few years. Uiara stays at Jaren’s home in São Paulo whenever she returns to Brazil. Jaren has also made occasional trips to New York City to spend time with Uiara.

Uiara and Jaren’s situation is complicated since the two of them are living in separate countries. Jaren is very much involved in the lives of his children from a former marriage. He also works extraordinarily long hours managing a business that demands a great deal of him. That doesn’t leave much time for Uiara.

To further compound matters, Uiara hasn’t processed much of the trauma left over from previous relationships. Uiara’s husband of ten years left her for another woman after she found out about the affair. And her attempts to date other men haven’t been all that successful.

Jaren is very much present with Uiara whenever they are together. He has the ability to become so intensely focused on whatever he is doing in the moment, that it becomes his entire world. That works to Uiara’s advantage whenever they are together. But it’s a whole different story when Jaren and Uiara are apart.

Jaren may not respond to Uiara’s calls or messages for days at a time. From Uiara’s perspective, it’s as though she has ceased to exist. Jaren’s lack of response repeatedly trigger’s Uiara’s fears of abandonment.

Uiara, overwhelmed by her fears of abandonment will then try desperately to reach out to Jaren. Uiara doesn’t know if Jaren is even checking his phone or if he’s completely ignoring her. It’s the lack of response from Jaren that becomes so incredibly maddening.

Uiara’s attempts to convey her needs and her subsequent demands for time and attention has left Jaren feeling totally overwhelmed. That has placed tremendous strain upon Jaren and the relationship. Jaren has responded by putting up a wall. The distancing is only fueling Uiara’s desperation.

Uiara spends enormous amounts of time analyzing Jaren and what’s not working in the relationship, as though it will somehow fix the problems. She began by giving me a play by play account the first time we spoke. After about twenty minutes, I felt as though I had given a quart of blood. Had I not stopped Uiara, she would had kept going indefinitely.

I found working with Uiara to be especially challenging. She wanted to keep going over every detail of what wasn’t working about the relationship and her interpretation thereof ad nauseam. I would redirect Uiara’s attention by bringing her awareness to the underlying feelings behind all of that drama. I would then have her breathe softly and deeply while centering her awareness in the midst of those feelings and bodily sensations.

I could tell from Uiara’s account that she was beginning the process of digesting hers underlying emotional responses. But she would quickly pop back into her head and start rehashing all the details of what that wasn’t working in her relationship with Jaren. 

Many of us at some point in our lives find ourselves caught up in the desperate struggle to get someone to reciprocate our love or to make a relationship work. In some instances, the relationship does work out. More often than not, these desperate struggles blow up in our faces and end up causing us a lot more pain.

Romantic obsessions stem from our deep emotional wounding. We’re holding enormous amounts of hurt, loss, feelings of being abandoned and other painful emotions within our bodies. We’ve become so disconnected from the underlying pain and then we end up projecting our unmet needs and longings onto another person.

Trying to control the person we’re wanting to be with or the outcome causes us to go up into our heads. Going into our heads causes us to disconnect from the underlying source of the pain residing deep within our bodies. Thinking obsessively about every detail of what we or that person we’re longing for said or did and what it all supposedly means has the effect of intensifying our feelings of sadness, hurt, longing, neediness, desperation and confusion. And the more we feed the beast of our obsession, the crazier we’re making ourselves.

As we continue to spin around and around in our heads with all those crazy-making obsessive narratives, we’re becoming even more disconnected from the underlying source of our pain. But all those painful emotions are continuing to build up within our bodies, thereby fueling our obsession.

The painful emotions that drive our romantic obsession can (and often do) leave us feeling tormented. Such unbearable longing causes us to feel as though we cannot possibly live without this person.   

So many of our problems with obsessive love stem from the fact that we have never learned to work constructively with our own emotions. While in the midst of these episodes, we’re tormented by the highly charged emotions driving our obsession.

Those of us who are not willing or able to access the deeper underlying source of the pain are far more likely to act out. The highly charged emotions that we’re holding within our bodies have a way of taking over our mind. We become possessed by these powerful emotional forces that cause us to say and do all kinds of crazy things. We become our own soap operas as our love lives turn into this embarrassing series of big messy dramas.

Many of us are experiencing all this unbearable pain, but we’re only connected to it at a very superficial level, and that’s why we keep acting out. We feel upset and that causes us to freak out, but we end up driving the person we’re wanting so desperately to be with even further away. When our presence becomes so overwhelming and intimidating to the person we’re wanting so desperately to be with, it makes them want to run in the other direction.

Another mistake we make when falling into these patterns of obsessive love is that we end up putting all this additional pressure on the person we’re wanting to be with, but that often has the exact opposite effect of what we’re hoping to achieve. Uiara for instance is putting all this additional pressure on Jaren to be more consistent by spending more time with her and calling more frequently. All that additional pressure is causing Jaren to feel overwhelmed. Jaren then shuts down and puts up a wall to Uiara. Uiara then pushes even harder. If Uiara pushes Jaren to the breaking point, he will very likely terminate the relationship.

People struggling with patterns of obsessive love are deeply hurt. Many are attempting to cope with their pain by overthinking and talking it to death. And they will keep going on and on with anyone with a sympathetic ear they can find to listen to them. Talking about the lack of reciprocation or whatever else is not working in the relationship may ease the pain momentarily, but it’s never going to heal the actual wounds. Thinking or talking it to death exacerbates our wounding by generating even more of the painful emotions that are fueling our obsession. 

At one point in my late twenties, I started filling a friend from Switzerland in on the latest drama playing out in my own love life. I could sense her frustration with me as she turned around and walked away. I felt hurt at the time, but she actually did me a huge favor.

Breaking the pattern of obsessive thought can be extraordinarily difficult. Thinking and talking incessantly about what’s not working in our love lives or lack thereof is a form of resistance. We’re resisting by fighting against the reality of what’s actually happening and what’s not happening and by not allowing ourselves to fully feel the painful emotions that are driving the madness of our romantic obsession.

I had to take a very disciplined approach to breaking the cycle of obsessive love. I would sometimes turn back to that part of myself that kept going on and on and say, “Shut up!” I would follow up by asking myself “What are the deepest feelings behind all of that drama?” I would then begin to breathe softly while diving further down into the depths of all those painful feelings. With repeated practice, the obsessive mental chatter became less frequent. As a result, I was able to systematically dismantle those unhealthy attachments.

It’s normal for our minds to spin around in circles when we find ourselves getting stressed out or upset by people and circumstances. Asking myself “What are the deepest feelings behind all of that drama?” and then breathing softly and deeply while fully immersing my awareness in any feelings and bodily sensations that arise helps me to gain clarity while diffusing the highly charged emotions.

Finding meaningful love in this age of online dating is for many of us becoming even more challenging. The people we’re hoping to connect with and that we find ourselves growing attached to can and will do all kinds of things to trigger us emotionally and make us feel crazy. Maybe they’re not be returning our call. Or they show up intermittently only to disappear again. They dump our ass and then run off with someone else. Or they completely ghost us.

We’re trying to make sense of it all and we do need to have a cognitive understanding of what’s happening. The problem for so many of us is that we keep overthinking it. And then we get so lost in the narratives we’re constructing that we can no longer distinguish between them and the reality of what is actually taking place as we attempt to find love and form relationships.

At a certain point, we need to dive directly down into the very source of the pain. And no matter how much it hurts, we need to allow ourselves to descend ever deeper into the depths. We need to give ourselves permission to stay fully present, breathing softly and deeply for however long it takes.

So many of us are living such busy lives and yet we need to be making time in the midst of our demanding schedules to return to the underlying source of our wounding. We need to continue to breathe into all the feelings and sensations that arise even if we find ourselves having to return to these vulnerable places within for hours, days, weeks, months or even years. The process can be extraordinarily difficult at times, but we need to just keep diving into the depths of all these feelings and sensations while breathing softly and deeply until we come out the other side.

I have found that this practice becomes exponentially more powerful when combining it with the most effective therapeutic interventions. For me that has been deep tissue body work, sessions with other extraordinary gifted healers and the vision quest, a traditional Native American healing practice that involves going out to fast alone in the mountains for four days and nights without food or water. The combination of practice and intervention has enabled me to effectively dismantle the patterns that had created so much suffering in my life.

It’s important for those of us who struggle with patterns of romantic obsession to understand that we are deeply wounded. We are very much disconnected from the underlying source of the pain held within our bodies that is fueling our obsession. We’re not able to relax and allow our relationships to unfold naturally. We inadvertently end up putting enormous amounts of pressure on the person we’re seeing and the relationship itself. That pressure can cause the relationships to blow apart and the person we’re wanting so much to be with to bail out on us.

We crash and burn when our relationships blow up on us or when that someone we’re wanting so desperately to be with disappears from our lives. We feel completely devastated for weeks or months on end. Some of us build a fortress around our heart by shutting down emotionally in an attempt to protect ourselves. But what often happens after some period of time is that another someone comes along who awakens all those unmet needs that continue to live on the inside of us. We begin to develop feelings of attachment for this person. And then the same damn cycle starts all over again.

With every repetition of this destructive cycle, we incur more injuries and experience even more pain and that deepens our existing emotional wounds. We may swear off relationships and give up on love completely, but the pain of all those losses, rejections and repeated experiences of abandonment remains bound up on the inside.

There are times when you’re wanting to be with someone and that person is not reciprocating your love. Yes, it does hurt like hell. You’re not getting what you want and need from the person you’re wanting to be with and so you keep thinking obsessively about them. And yet you’re not allowing yourself to fully experience the pain that you’re feeling at a deep emotional level over the fact that you’re not together.

You end up wasting enormous amounts of time on someone who is not going to reciprocate your feelings of love and most likely never will. That can be preventing you from healing the deep emotional wounds and moving on. Your obsessive fixation can also prevent you from undergoing the process of healing and growth that would enable you to find someone with whom you truly do resonate that will reciprocate your love.

One of the biggest mistakes that many of us make is that when we’re experiencing such extraordinarily powerful feelings for another person, is that we end up getting caught up in this delusion of our own making. We assume that there is this deep and profound connection and that we are meant to be with this person.  And because we’re experiencing such intensely powerful feelings, it fuels our obsession. We’re so strung out on this person that it’s like being a drug addict going through withdrawal because we’re not getting our fix.

Some of us will keep trying and pursue the person we’re wanting to be with even harder. We keep dropping subtle hints and innuendos and making suggestive comments. We tell them how we dreamed of kissing them the other night, that we want to make love to them or even worse …we tell them about some sexual act that we want to perform on them.

Just stop it, already!

By this point, you’re being incredibly invasive. From the other person’s standpoint, you’re being incredibly fucking creepy.

And if you keep pushing, you will only succeed in pushing that person further away from you.


It is so critically important in these instances to be continually reality checking yourself. You reality check yourself by acknowledging what’s really happening …and what is not happening in the moment.

I used to catch myself in the midst of these delusional fantasies about a woman that I was at that time hoping to connect with and have these reality checking dialogues with myself. The reality was that it just was not happening at that time and was probably never going to happen. I would acknowledge that she’s off somewhere else and in many instances with someone else. And there I was in that moment all by myself.

At times when I hadn’t heard back from a woman I was wanting to connect with, I would acknowledge that she hadn’t called me along with the possibility that I might not hear from her at all. If she told me she wasn’t interested or that she was into somebody else, I would acknowledge that. I would also acknowledge if she had pulled away from me. I would follow up by asking myself “How does that feel?” I would then breathe softly and deeply while allowing myself to experience the full range of feelings and sensations that arose within my body. I would continue to follow these feelings as they went through their progression.

We all fantasize at some point about that person we’re wanting to be with. The guys are off wanking and the girls are paddling the pink canoe while immersed in their intimate fantasies. A certain amount of fantasizing is normal. We’re all guilty of it. Where many of us get into trouble is that we remain fixated in fantasy mode. And that can prevent us from healing, letting go and moving on when we need to.

When we acknowledge the reality of our love lives or lack thereof, it can really hurt at times. The feeling that we experience after being broken up with or ghosted or that we’re never going to get to be with this person we’re longing for can be absolutely horrendous. No matter how bad it feels, we need to allow ourselves to fully experience our authentic emotional response to what is …and is not happening.

Uiara who I spoke of earlier in this chapter is now estranged from the man that she has been seeing. Jaren may surface again at some point, but he is so triggered by the pressure Uiara is putting on him and all the other drama that has played out in the relationship. It’s the enormous pressure that is creating a growing aversion to Uiara.

There are times when we’re in a relationship and we’re not getting what we want from the person we’ve been seeing. We fall into the trap of trying to pressure our partner to give us what we want or we try to force the relationship to be what we want it to be. We end up creating enormous strain on our partner and the relationship. What often happens is that we end up pushing our partner in the other direction.

Those of us who have experienced repeated abandonments and other forms of trauma are especially susceptible to destructive patterns of obsessive love. The more wounded we are, the more likely we are to form attachments to partners who are themselves very damaged. When we resist the pain that we’re holding within, we find it enormously difficult to let go of people who are not right for us, even when they keep causing us tremendous amounts of pain.

You will gain clarity as you take the steps necessary to facilitate the healing of your emotional wounds. You will find it easier to detach from the person you realize is not a good match for you. You will outgrow unhealthy partners. And you will find that it become easier to let go and move on when you need to.

You may get to a point where you realize that the person you’ve been seeing and the relationship you’ve had with them are just too toxic. You become clear about the fact that this is not the person for you and is no longer the relationship you want to be in. You realize that a partner who is emotionally or physically unavailable, dishonest, takes advantage of you, or is unfaithful, chemically dependent or that says and does hurtful things is no longer acceptable. 

Or you may realize that you really do share a strong connection with this person you’ve been seeing and you do love them deeply. You realize that no other person can meet all of your needs and you’re also able to understand and accept the limitations. You’re at peace when it comes to what they can and cannot give or be for you.

Uiara, for instance, can as she heals her own wounding come to a place of acceptance where she realizes that Jaren is basically a good partner and accept him for where he is at this point in his life and for what he is capable of giving. She can accept that he has other commitments in his children and work and that he only has so much of himself to share at this time in his life.

When being triggered emotionally, it’s important for Uiara to be able to go down into the depths of her feelings. The reoccurring fears of abandonment and other feelings will soften and become more diffuse as she continues to breathe into them. That will make it easier for Uiara to gain a healthier perspective and come to a place of acceptance by letting go of what she cannot change.

By understanding, I’m not speaking of a mental concept. The understanding I’m referring to is an experiential sense felt throughout the body that enables Uiara to fully acknowledge and be in at peace with Jaren’s limits. Uiara will then understand what Jaren can offer to her at this time and she will okay with that. With continued practice Uiara will experience a growing sense of wellbeing. Coming to a place of acceptance could also mean being open to the possibility of seeing someone else.

Every person with whom we connect and every relationship that we are a part of has its limitations. It is important for us to be able to realistically assess and acknowledge these limits. We understand what this person is capable of or can be for us and we’ve come to a place of acceptance that allows us to be perfectly okay with that.

It’s normal for me to intuitively sense into friends, romantic partners, people that I encounter as I go through my day and those I work with in groups or individual settings. I’m able to see and feel the limitations and emotional wounding of each individual. I can also sense their potential and the resources available to them.

Having this understanding is critically important whenever I’m working with people in group and individual settings. I’ve gained an in depth understanding of the various forms of emotional wounding and how illness manifests within the body. I can readily observe all these processes taking as I look into people’s bodies and minds. I also know what steps need to be taken to facilitate healing within the body and mind.

I do all I can to encourage those I work with to do what is needed to effect healing within their bodies and minds, but I often come up against a great deal of resistance. This resistance can take on many forms. I have to be able to recognize the resistance when it surfaces and to know when to step back.

Our life experiences and subsequent emotional responses need to go through a process in which they are digested. I spend a great deal of time teaching the people I’m working with in group and individual settings how to work constructively with their own emotions. Some people have become so numbed to their own emotions. Others can be incredibly resistant to allowing themselves to feel their own authentic emotional responses.

People are sometimes unwilling to address certain issues. And there are many instances in which I can see that a person lacks the resources needed to cope emotionally or address specific areas of difficulty in their day-to-day lives. Maybe the person I’m working with has gone as far as they’re able to go in that moment.

Those who have suffered extensive trauma can be quite fragile. I’m more likely to take them out to do the walking mediation or guide them through other practices that will enable them to soften, diffuse and then digest all those overwhelming emotions they are experiencing.

Some people are just not in a place where they’re willing or able to address the issues or experience the feelings that arise in response to the realities of their daily lives. I’ve watched many of these same individuals become more proactive and take on a more growth-oriented mindset as they develop the strength, resilience and other internal resources needed to cope more effectively.

I have to get an intuitive sense of each individual I’m working with to determine what their needs are in that moment. I need to understand what they are capable of and what are they willing to do.

Many of these same principles are applicable within the context of a friendship or romantic relationship. Each person we connect with has their own set of limitations. Maybe they can only go so far at this time. Those limitations may always be there. It’s also possible that at some point down the road, they will be in a more open and receptive space.

Many people are operating with huge emotional, intellectual and interpersonal deficits. They may be struggling with health-related issues that impede their physical mobility. We need to the best of our ability to get a realistic sense of each individual with whom we interact. We need to understand what it is that they have to offer us and what they are not willing or able to give. If a person doesn’t reciprocate our feelings of romantic love, then we need to realize that they just don’t feel it.

Letting go can at times be an extraordinarily difficult process. And yet it is such a crucial aspect of the healing that many of us need to undergo. When dealing with obsessive love, we cannot reason ourselves out of the craziness. We have to actually dive down deep into the source of our wounding and digest the highly charged emotions driving our obsession in order to get to the place where we truly can let go.

When we break the pattern of obsessive love, there is growing sense of freedom, lightness and ease. The better we’re able to let go, the more readily we can flow. We are more readily able to allow people to come and go. And we find ourselves naturally gravitating towards and drawing people into our lives with whom we can share deeper and more meaningful and fulfilling connections.

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