Reboot your life: 20 mental barriers you should let go of

by Gilbert Ross


photo by admitchell08

photo by admitchell08

You are in an imaginary hot air balloon. It’s just you and all of your belongings in the wicker basket. Something went wrong and you are losing altitude fast. You will hit the ground in less than ten minutes if you don’t come up with something quick.


The only immediate solution is to get rid of excess weight and throw off at least half of your belongings. It’s that or hit the ground in ten. You look at the things and hesitate for a few seconds but then you do what you have to do and start throwing the things you have gathered half your life one by one. The cargo gets lighter, the descent slows down then you are floating up again back to altitude. You are relieved beyond comprehension.


This happens to all of us in less dramatic circumstances. We attach ourselves to things that we have accumulated over the years. Some of them might have some practical value. Others we just have attached ourselves sentimentally to over time. Some others are just clutter.


Our mental life follows the same fate. We carry with us a lot of things in our heads along the years – Our life story, emotional attachments, beliefs and other things which can linger in our minds for many years.


Some of them are useless ideas that drag us down considerably. Some are emotional debris from difficult moments in our past. Some are just beliefs which we have attached ourselves to for no apparent justifiable reason. Some others are just self-destructive habits and fears.


So if you were in the hot air balloon situation, which of these mental barriers should we let go? I have listed down 20 here. Do you have any more?


1. Let go of attachments: According to Buddhist Philosophy, attachment is one of the roots of all suffering. I can’t agree more. We attach ourselves to all sorts of things even the most self-slapping stupid notions in the universe. Are you attached to something? How much are you attached? Is it keeping you back from something? Is it making you suffer? Look at it straight through – break the illusion. Know that every attachment can be detached.


2. Let go of guilt: Guilt has absolutely no function whatsoever. Think about it – what could guilt possibly resolve? It just holds you imprisoned to self-mortification and sorrow.

3. Let go of Negative thinking: Pessimistic thoughts and negative attitudes keep you locked in a dark aura that permeates in everything you do. It’s a dangerous line to follow. Know that thoughts influence the world around us. Enough said


4. Let go of self-criticism: Many times we are our biggest pain in the neck. We criticize ourselves with the best of intentions but then go over the acceptable limit. Criticism then turns to disempowering messages. Let go of it and be kind and gentle to yourself.


5. Let go of prejudice: Prejudice keeps you bitter and resentful. It restricts your opportunities to connect meaningfully with others.


6. Let go of compulsive thinking: Do you keep on doing something just because you feel you have to do it without any apparent reason? It’s time to honestly reflect on its usefulness and its side-effects.

7. Let go of the need for others’ approval: We often tend to seek approval by others. This is an attention-seeking behaviour and one which threatens our self-confidence and authenticity.


8. Let go of limiting beliefs: Most of our limits are self-imposed. Life doesn’t have defined limits. Our beliefs do. Learn to identify those beliefs which narrow down your possibilities for action and let go of them.

9. Let go of grudges: Let me put it this way – grudges are bad for your heart. Keep them long enough or numerous enough and your health will eventually suffer. Research is showing the relationship between heart disease and emotions such as anger and grudges.


10. Let go of the “I’ll do it tomorrow” attitude: This is a delaying tactic of your subconscious saboteur trying to keep you from accomplishing important tasks. Try to be aware of it when you think it and consciously push yourself to do at least the first part of it. Naturally you will then continue the whole task because the hard part is only the beginning.

11. Let go of anxious thoughts: These are born out of our fear of the unknown and uncertainty about the future. The thought that something unpleasant may happen is only an unreal thought we have created ourselves. Ask yourself: “Is this thought based on real evidence?”


12. Let go of past heartbreaks: A heartbreak can take quite a long time to heal. Your heart is locked as your mind keeps on hovering over the same thought. The thing to realize is that in heartbreaks it is not the loss that make you suffer but the idea you create in your heads about that loss.

13. Let go of bad memories: Sometimes we remember unpleasant things that stir up some sad feelings in us. Bad memories make you relive those sad moments in the present. Keep them where they are – in the past.


14. Let go of useless things: We also attach ourselves to things of all sort. Sometimes we clutter our life with useless objects. Let go of them and simplify your working and living environment.


15. Let go of bad company: If there are people around you that are insincere, harbour envy, are highly pessimistic or disempowering, keep away from them.


16. Let go of the idea that you are a product of your past: One very common mistake we fall into is the belief that we are determined by our past experiences. This limits our view on future possibilities since we are stuck in believing that the future can only be more of the same as our past.

17. Let go of identifying yourself with your job/role: This is one of the risks of modern day life. Since roles are always becoming more specialized we think that we are part of our roles. This makes us lose perspective of our true nature.


18. Let go of counterproductive habits: These are the repetitive patterns of behavior that obstruct or distract you from constructive and productive behavior. They can be anything from watching too much TV and overeating to self-destructive behavior such as drug abuse.

19. Let go of taking things too personally: Very often we are disturbed emotionally because we interpret people’s words and actions from a very subjective perspective. When we take things personally we get irritated, hurt and disappointed.  When you look at life from a more detached and objective point of view, we stay emotionally balanced and focused on our priorities.


20. Let go of the ticking clock: Time is one of our biggest sources of stress. Well, not time really but our perception of it. Sometimes we are enslaved by the concept of time even in our moments of leisure. This has devoured a lot of our genuine freedom and space. Learning to spend moments without the constant awareness of time can be liberating and finally productive.

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Pat Testing Nottingham May 1, 2013 at 3:22 pm

A really great post, 100% behind number 10 – go and do it now!!
Pat Testing Nottingham´s last [type] ..Common PAT Testing Failures

Gilbert Ross April 26, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Hi Twinton thanks a lot for your thoughts. I appreciate that.

1. That something is a part or fact of life doesn’t necessarily make it good or justified. I’d say attachment is very different from enthusiasm. I could write endlessly about the subject but in a nutshell attachment can many times be dysfunctional in that it happens when we identify ourselves with an image, a belief, an object of desire or outcome and get blind or limit our vision of our true nature. Things change all the time and so do our beliefs about the world and ourselves. Attaching ourselves to something can then close us to the flow and changes of life and end up being frustrated, confused, hurt or disillusioned. Enthusiasm, on the other hand is the energy and happiness that comes from being ‘in the flow’ and in line with our true purpose.

2. Guilt can lead us to amend our actions but when you look closer you realize that it is not the feeling of guilt itself which leads us to action but when it partners with the realization that we were off path. Guilt by itself and in a vacuum without awareness and the resolve to take action will lead nowhere else than chest-beating.

3. Negative thoughts are different from disapproving of or being morally against rape and murder to use your example. You don’t think negatively about rape and murder – you are emotionally and morally disturbed by them. Negative thoughts are an obstacle to taking positive action since they instill doubt and fear which can debilitate us from moving forward.

4. Being critical is a good thing in itself. Lack of critical thinking very often makes more damage to individuals and society than being over-critical. Being critical means analyzing and measuring something in its depth or meaning. Being self-critical however very quickly reaches a line when it stops being helpful and starts being counter-productive and self-sabotaging. In human life that threshold is very short.

5. Very different. Prejudice is an irrational action when someone demerits or rewards something or someone based on a whimsical criteria – such as color of skin, religion or subjective likes and dislikes. Discernment on the contrary is a rational action – when the mind evaluates a situation or an outcome based on more ‘objective’ criteria.

6. Not sure I understood your line of thought there Twinton

Twinton April 26, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Thanks for the article. But cant help but asking…

1. Attachments are a part of life. Buddhist philosophy seems flawed here. Its hard to distinguish between attachment and commitment. Over-attachment might be better. How is your use of attachment different, than say, zeal or enthusiasm?
2. Guilt has many functions. resolve? of course not. Guilt is not meant to resolve, but to lead to amending actions that lead to resolve. You over simplify. Sometimes people feel guilt because their actions are wrong. Interestingly, we have no problem ascribing guilt to others when we are wronged.
3. Are all negative thoughts bad? I have negative thoughts towards murder and rape. I would think rightfully so.
4. Self-criticism is one way we better ourselves. Are we outside of making mistakes?
5. How is prejudice different from discernment?
6. Agree with letting go of compulsive thinking. But doesn’t that require self criticism? i.e. “I am being compulsive, and need to stop.” This advise seems to contradict with much above.

The rest appears to fall into over-generalizing and over simplification. Herein lies the difficulty of Buddhist thinking.

sj adams December 27, 2012 at 8:45 pm

This sounds a lot like Eckhardt Tolle’s “The Power of Now”, distilled. Nicely put.

solo December 13, 2012 at 6:07 am

I found this article very inspiring. At least once in our life we found ourselves in difficult situations be in our social life, relationship, financial or job. The most important thing is that how to deal with our situations and move on to the next step. It is not the loss that worry us so much but the thought that revolves around us. We will be in a very frustrating situations due to several reasons most of them are beyond our control , others because of others or our decisions. It would be always be wise to move on and it is good to ask what would have been if it was worse than this. It will be also helpful at least to read this article every other day or related articles to help us move forward.

Rahul October 22, 2012 at 5:57 pm

Really inspiring……and thanks for motivation. Now I am wake up in real

Oliver Dodd August 28, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Great article, a big wake up call, thankyou
Very inspiring, and very practical

Sergio Felix August 23, 2012 at 1:05 am

Hey Gilbert,

There are a lot of points here that resonate with me but #16 was the one that not only resonated the most with me but one of the hardest things to overcome so far.

Thanks for writing this, sometimes you need that extra pat in the back and kick in the butt to get things started! ;-)


Znak Raka April 4, 2012 at 2:52 am

Very inspiring. Some of the points are really golden :)

Chris F March 21, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Great post. I think #8 is the most important personally. Let go of limiting beliefs. We all assume that a certain outcome can only happen if this is true, or it can’t happen unless…. but that is where we are all wrong. Believe anything is possible!

Gilbert Ross August 7, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Thanks a lot Michael! I very much appreciate your reference and link. Excellent blog you have by the way. I would recommend everyone to take a peep here

Michael Shane August 5, 2011 at 3:14 pm

I’ve stumbled across your site via Twitter and really enjoyed this article. I’m in the process now of going back through your blogs and love the content and style so thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and insights.
I also wanted you to know that I’ve have linked to this blog on my site and referenced you.
Many, many thanks,



TwinsBSBallgirl July 14, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Great article. Brings clarity to life and when life is lived this way, one’s life will be much happier.
TwinsBSBallgirl´s last [type] ..twinsbsballgirl: @hansenry @hansenry Agreed, even as an outsider seeing a tweet congratulating them made me mad. CC: @jakeencinas

Shades Malone July 7, 2011 at 5:09 pm

This is a great post Gilbert. One of the best things about the Internet is being able to easily share positive lifestyles and beliefs with all people around the world. I was raised Christian but, having practiced martial arts my entire life, I was inevitably drawn to Eastern philosophy and Buddhism. I have learned through my studies that all religions on Earth are there, basically, to allow you to become the best Man you can possibly be. Love yourself and love one another. Let go of fear and start wearing a Speedo to the beach. Be healthy. Be tanned and beautiful.
Shades Malone´s last [type] ..What is the meaning of life?

Gilbert Ross July 3, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Unfortunately common sense is not that common in this world Carolina! But glad you see it that way :)

Carolina June 29, 2011 at 11:42 pm

This is just plain common sense.
Carolina´s last [type] ..Streaming Green Rainbows

ending relationship May 27, 2011 at 1:06 am

Great Site. People do not know how to ending relationships . It is very important to know. Thanks for the info.

Samantha Manning April 20, 2011 at 6:41 am

Awesome! I keep reading this kind of material over and over and I think it boils down to this one question, “why can’t I just be great?” It feels like if I just believed in my greatness, the world would collapse. Sigh. We are all a work in progress! Love the site!

Nick April 7, 2011 at 10:43 pm

One of the hardest things for me to do was “letting go of bad company.” It’s tough when you care about someone but know that spending time with them is detrimental to your own growth. Negative energy is a terrible thing to be around.

SteveD February 25, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Really nice article. How about let go of the future? Let go of expectations?
SteveD´s last [type] ..Help is here

Zartashia February 8, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Wohooooo… What an article… =D really enjoyed reading all the 20 barriers…
Zartashia´s last [type] ..Boot An ISO With GRUB2 using UNetbootin

Beverly January 3, 2011 at 9:14 am

If you can’t let go you will never receive all the good things that were intended for your life!
Beverly´s last [type] ..Business Women Welcome To 2011!

Gilbert Ross January 1, 2011 at 11:47 am


Great comment! I can’t agree more. The 20 mental barriers to let go of are goals we ought to look for if we want to self-actualize a happier, meaningful life. As you said they are good reminders (and yes we all need them from time to time!). Of course there are paths one has to learn to thread as we reach those goals. Awareness and presence are for me the most important ones. Meditation and contemplation are a way of cultivating awareness, presence and emotional self-mastery. Yet depending on the disposition and life experiences of the individual, other routes can be taken. Learning to relax, feel the breath for a minute or two, paying more attention to your feelings, seeing things from different perspectives and spending more quality time with oneself are also good habits. You mentioned listening to your body which is also a very interesting subject I have wrote about here.

kvetchingoy December 31, 2010 at 9:08 pm

These are nice reminders for letting go. And I think that one integral component of this that I’d like to emphasize is that deciding to let go of something is just one component of the entirety of actually letting go. For me, it also takes contemplation, meditation and awareness to actually let go of these things. I can intellectually see the benefit of letting go of the past and tell myself to let go of the past. Yet, I still hold on to the past. This has caused a lot of judgment about me attempting to let go and failing. Usually it’s not until I sit with it, contemplate it (why is the past still coming up for me? What is it about these memories that stay with me? What’s actually going on here?) that the past begins to let go of me. For me, it’s a dialogue. And the danger is when I try to simplify it into telling myself to just let it go. That it doesn’t matter. Because, honestly, if it’s coming up for me (the grudges, the procrastination, the bad habits, etc.) then there’s something there for me to listen to, to contend with, to think (and feel) about, to metabolize. So when I let go I try to let go with compassion for myself and to really explore what is actually here, in the present, and to be curious about it. Soon I find that the grip loosens and slowly falls away. And I realize that letting go is a process which also includes my body (that manifest as feelings and layers of emotion) and not just a decision I make with my brain.

Diane December 30, 2010 at 6:28 am

Similar to other commenters, I have many areas I need to work on. I am surprised at the constant attention this requires to keep a positive focus on these topics. It gets exhausting to stop myself from thinking the way I do!

Lenore Orum December 29, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

Teri December 11, 2010 at 3:40 am

Thank you for this. Many, many times I need to read something like this to help me be more positive because, to be quite honest, I’m a very negative person. I have gotten better over the years but sometimes it creeps back. I stop it from time to time. Like work, its such a negative place that just brings it right out of me. Its a very depressing environment but I need my job so I continue to put up with it. Okay, enough of my babbling! Haha…great job with this article. Thank you!!!!

Gilbert Ross October 16, 2010 at 9:09 am

Hi Emily. thank you so much for your interest. please write to me using the contact us page so we can discuss in private and In more detail. Thank you!

emily October 13, 2010 at 2:37 pm

pls i’ll like to use your article for my magazine. Is it okay? can you also write for us? thank you.

Gilbert Ross November 12, 2009 at 6:22 pm

Thanks to everyone for the nice words and contribution. This article seemed to have had a warm feedback even outside this blog.

If you liked it I would really appreciate if you could Digg it or bookmark it.

This blog is still in its infancy and helping me share the word would:

1. Make my efforts worth
2. Grow the community with more special people like you.
3. Reach my objective of sharing knowledge and insights with a greater audience.

Thank you from my heart

Gilbert Ross November 12, 2009 at 6:16 pm

Hey Mike,

Thanks a lot. Also looking forward to hear from you!

Mike aka Find Inspiration November 12, 2009 at 2:47 pm

This is awesome – I love little reminders like these, because while we all need them from time to time! Well written, look forward to more coming from you!

Jose Hernandez October 26, 2009 at 2:45 pm

This is nice and all, but how do you actually do it?

Gilbert Ross October 19, 2009 at 10:03 pm

Hi Kaushik,

Yes very much so. I agree with you…Fear is one of our biggest and most commonly shared enemy. He who manages to conquer his fears will truly master his life.

Thanks for your contribution!

Kaushik October 19, 2009 at 7:59 pm

It’s all about letting go, and it starts with letting go of fear. Letting go is so much easier than we think it is!
.-= Kaushik´s last blog ..Innocence… =-.

Gilbert Ross October 18, 2009 at 10:08 am


Thank you so much Evita for your kind words!! I am really happy you stopped by :) I do hope that it can be of help to as many people as possible. That would make my efforts even more rewarding – although I already feel rewarded with good comments such as yours.

Evita October 18, 2009 at 2:39 am

This is fantastic! The list is priceless!

Had to Stumble it, hopefully many, many people get a chance to read this and re-think their lives and what they could let go off to make not just a liberated life, but a more fulfilling one.

Many thanks for adding this value!

Positively Present October 6, 2009 at 10:48 pm

Fantastic post! I really think it’s so helpful to let go of these mental barriers. You’ve given me a lot to work on! :)
.-= Positively Present´s last blog to break barriers and create connections =-.

Srinivas Rao October 6, 2009 at 9:00 pm

Very well written post. I think that letting go of things can be really liberating. In fact the more of you let go of, the more free you really are. In the words of Morpheus “You have to let it all go Neo: fear, doubt, disbelief. Free your mind.”
.-= Srinivas Rao´s last blog ..Shake the wipeouts of life, learn from them, and move on =-.

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