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.

This Post Has 59 Comments

  1. Gilbert Ross

    Thanks a lot for your comment Marcelo! Yes relapses are so natural and human – we all need reminders from time to time. When I write and reach out for others it’s also a way to remind or reinforce those lessons to myself too. The road to personal growth is not an easy one but definitely a rewarding one. Keep it up!! Blessings

  2. Marcelo Bartholomeu

    Hi Gilbert
    I read this article at Uplift and I want to thank you for your tips.
    I knew all of them but, as a normal human being, I have my relapses.
    It’s was extremely important and useful remind to let it go the attachments – oh God, how it’s still hard to me.
    Regards from Brazil

  3. Kyle B

    What a great list of common mental barriers! I really liked #8. Getting rid of limiting beliefs is key to obtaining your full potential. You will always act according to your own personal values and beliefs. When you think big, you will achieve big and vice versa.

  4. Jes

    Thank you so much for this article. Reading it over feels like a lifetime of letting go. One step at a time, every single day, yeah?

  5. Gilbert Ross

    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

  6. Twinton

    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.

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