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Moving Through Instead of Moving On


Has anyone ever told you to just move on or to just let it go? How does it feel to hear those words? What does it even mean to move on from something or to really let something go? Is there any way to measure success in these feats?


Sometimes the mere idea that we should be moving on or letting go sets us up for an overwhelming internal struggle. What if we never really get to that ideal destination of completely moving on from something tragic like the loss of a loved one? Or what if we are unable to genuinely let go of a painful heartbreak?  Does this mean that we are destined to remain stuck forever, limited by our inability to be able to confidently say we’re on the other side and not looking back?


No. You do not have to be limited or restricted by this unhelpful narrative. It is okay if you can’t move on. It is also okay if you can’t let go. You can still live authentically and meaningfully, even if you refuse to let go of pain or find it seemingly impossible to move on from grief. Besides, isn’t that sort of an unrealistic expectation? If something is deeply impactful to you, do you really expect yourself to get to a point where you never think about it and are completely numb to the emotions associated with it? This expectation wouldn’t really honor the role of that experience in the story of your life. Additionally, this expectation just sets you up to feel like you’ve failed anytime the memories come flooding back and you find yourself overcome with an array of inevitable and inescapable emotions. Sure, you might go a long period of time feeling like you’ve let go or moved on… but what about those times you’re reminded and it all feels so difficult again?


What if instead of moving on we simply gave ourselves permission to move though. Moving through implies a nonlinear, continuous, and ever-changing process. It permits the thoughts and feelings to ebb and flow instead of expecting them to just one day come to a halt. It empowers us to continue to live mindfully and purposefully while we also struggle at the same time. Moving through pain means that you are allowed the experience of it. You are allowed days where it feels easy. You are allowed days where it feels hard. You have not failed if after days, weeks, months, or even years, you feel like you’re back at square one. When you find an old picture of the one who broke your heart and feel empty, it’s okay. When you hear that song on the radio that played at your loved one’s funeral and you breakdown, it’s okay. Rather, you’ve succeeded. Success lies in being self-compassionate and in enabling yourself to exist outside the limiting narrative that you should move on or you have to let go to be able to live valuably. Instead, give yourself permission to move through… because as cliché as it sounds, life really is all about the journey.




Kaylee Garside, MA, has extensive experience in the areas of mindfulness and acceptance practices, plus many more. For more information on Kaylee and her work, click here to link to her full bio page.