“Let it go!”
If anyone has ever spoken these words to you, you might’ve bristled at their implied assumption that you were just being stubborn and thick-headed.
But one of the most difficult challenges we encounter as humans is letting go.
Letting go of relationships, the past, our beliefs, the status quo, our fears, our hopes and dreams, our youth, and our sense of control.
Life is about change, and change is often scary and painful. We want to cling to what we have, even when we know what we have isn't what we really want or need.
Sometimes change is forced upon us, and we fight it tooth and nail until we've lost the battle.
Then we sit in bitterness and remorse, giving up the only real control we have in life — the ability to let go and begin anew.
What if we could simply accept that change is inevitable and that the only sane response to it is releasing our resistance to it?
I know it's not easy to simply let go, but once you do, you recognize how powerfully liberating it is.
You free yourself from pain, guilt, and regret, and you find a vast open space in which to move forward with your life.
Letting Go of a Relationship
Are you at a crossroad in a relationship where you must decide to make a change or where change has been thrust upon you?
You’re torn between letting this person go and persuading them to stay. The other person isn’t nearly as conflicted, though.
No matter how many good memories you’ve created together, he or she has expressed a need to step away, get some space, and decide whether or not your relationship has run its course.
But why does this person get to decide for both of you?
It feels as though you have no say in whether the relationship continues to grow or dies right in front of you.
The thing is, neither of you can speak for both. You can only speak for yourself, and the other person can only speak for him or herself.
And the fact of the matter is that in order for the relationship to endure, both parties have to decide on their own to stay and work together.
If one wants to leave, the other can’t force the relationship to continue.
But knowing this doesn’t make it any less painful to say goodbye to someone you love.
So, we curated the following let it go quotes to help you do something we know is not easy.
Why Letting Go is Hard
You’ve probably heard this saying at least once — probably during a romantic movie or after-school special: If you love someone, let them go.
It’s not so easy, though, to let go of someone you love and to keep moving forward.
Every particle of your being is screaming for you to hold on — as though your life depended on it.
Because at least part of you believes that letting go of that person will actually kill you. Or at least that life without them won’t be worth living.
The good news?
When it comes to letting go of the past and of someone you love, you have plenty of good company.
The letting go quotes that follow are taken from souls throughout history who have gone through what you’re going through now.
Letting Go Quotes: 93 of The Best Quotes to Release Attachments
You might be tempted to think that the sources of these quotes never had it as bad as you have it.
Or maybe you believe that letting go was easier for them because they weren’t as passionate or they didn’t love as deeply.
It’s an easy escape and a very human thing to do.
We talk ourselves into thinking, “Sure, maybe I could let go — if I loved this person less,” or “How can I let this person go when I know in my heart that we’re made for each other?”
But staying together isn’t a decision you can make for both of you.
And if the desire to stay together (or get together) isn’t mutual, real love puts the needs of the other person first.
It also respects their decision to leave and doesn’t try to pressure them into staying.
Real love never says, “I know better than you, so I’m the one who gets to decide whether you go or stay.” Real love isn’t manipulative or controlling.
It recognizes that the other person is an equal with just as much right to self-determination.
In other words, it does take no for an answer.
Quotes about Moving On and Letting Go
Check out these quotes about letting go and remember you do have the strength to do what’s best for you and for the people you love.
You’re tougher than you think. And acting out of love will make you even stronger than before.
1. “Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it.” ~Ray Bradbury
2. “Take all the time you need to heal emotionally. Moving on doesn’t take a day, it takes lots of little steps to be able to break free of your broken self.” ~Tere Arigo
3. “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” ― Helen Keller
4. “You must make a decision that you are going to move on. It won’t happen automatically. You will have to rise up and say, ‘I don’t care how hard this is, I don’t care how disappointed I am, I’m not going to let this get the best of me. I’m moving on with my life.” ― Joel Osteen
5. “Even though you may want to move forward in your life, you may have one foot on the brakes. In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain your old pain. The energy it takes to hang onto the past is holding you back from a new life. What is it you would let go of today?” ~Mary Manin Morrissey
6. “Your heart’s strength is measured by how hard it holds on. Your self-worth and faith is measured by finally letting go. However, your peace is measured by how long you don’t look back.” ― Shannon L. Alder
7. “If you want to fly on the sky, you need to leave the earth. If you want to move forward, you need to let go the past that drags you down. ~Amit Ray
8. “The only thing a person can ever really do is keep moving forward. Take that big leap forward without hesitation, without once looking back. Simply forget the past and forge toward the future. ~Alyson Noel
9. “Some think that holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it’s letting go.” ― Herman Hesse
10. “Change has to come for life to struggle forward.” ~Helen Hollick
11. “It is truly freeing when you let go and just accept what is. You find life is more beautiful when you give up the illusion of control.” ― Meredith Kerr
12. “If you can’t do anything about it then let it go. Don’t be a prisoner to things you can’t change.” ― Tony Gaskin
13. “Anything that feels forced or harder than it should be or causes you pain and distress is not meant for you. Having this mentality or faith will help you overcome the reluctance that comes with making a decision of whether or not you should let go. Things that are meant for you have a way of flowing smoothly into your life. The more you fight for something that is not meant for you, the more it will fight you.” ― Rania Naim
14. “Let things go. Release them. Detach yourself from them. Stop turning on your emotional television to watch the same program over and over again, the one that shows how much you suffered from a certain loss: that is only poisoning you, nothing else.” ― Paulo Coelho
15. “Holding on is believing that there’s only a past; letting go is knowing that there’s a future.” ― Daphne Rose Kingma
16. “You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles.” ― C. JoyBell C.
17. “In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.” ― Deepak Chopra
18. “You don’t need strength to let go of something. What you really need is understanding.” ― Guy Finley
Moving Forward Quotes
Enjoy the following move on quotes from people who probably also had a difficult time moving forward — especially when it meant stepping away from someone they loved.
19. “Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance, you must keep moving.” — Albert Einstein
20. “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.” ― Lyndon B. Johnson
21. “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ― Lao Tzu
22. “It’s okay if you’re a mess, if you’re still ‘figuring it out,’ if your lost or trying to find your way – life isn’t about having it all together, but about moving forward – day by day, step by step.” — Marisa Donnelly
23. “Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.” ~Victor Kiam
24. “Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energy moving forward together towards an answer.” — Denis Waitley
25. “You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could’ve, would’ve happened… or you can just leave the pieces of the floor and move on.” — Tupac Shakur
26. “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” — Viktor E. Frankl
27. “I must give you this warning: your journeys will rarely ever go as you plan. You will make mistakes, and you will feel lost. Whenever that happens, look to the light and keep moving forward in faith.” — Seth Adam Smith
28. “Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.” ― Walter Anderson
29. “Accept yourself, love yourself, and keep moving forward. If you want to fly, you have to give up what weighs you down.” ― Roy T. Bennett
30. “Life moves forward. The old leaves wither, die and fall away, and the new growth extends forward into the light.” — Bryant McGill
Quotes about Letting Go of Someone You Love But Can't Have
Here are some quotes on how to let go of someone you love but can’t be with. Whatever the reason, it’s not a situation anyone wants to be in. But you need to know you’re not alone.
31. “It's hard to let go of something you never really had but, even harder when you know it’s everything you ever wanted.” — Anais M. Torres
32. “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” — Buddhist Sentiment
33. “No matter how bad you want a person, if your hearts are in two different places, you’ll have to pass and move on”. ~Alexandra Elle
34. “There are many ways of breaking a heart. Stories were full of hearts broken by love, but what really broke a heart was taking away its dream – whatever that dream might be.” — Pearl S. Buck
35. “Too many of us are hung up on what we don't have, can't have, or won't ever have. We spend too much energy being down, when we could use that same energy – if not less of it – doing, or at least trying to do, some of the things we really want to do.” ― Terry McMillan
36. “There are things that we don't want to happen but have to accept, things we don't want to know but have to learn, people we can't live without but have to let go.” ― Nancy Stephan
37. “If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. If they don’t, they never were.” ― Kahlil Gibran
38. “You can't lose what you never had, you can’t keep what's not yours, and you can't hold on to something that doesn't want to stay.” ― Damon Suede
39. Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward. ~Victor Kiam
40. “Letting go of someone we love is the hardest thing we will ever do. Some people never surrender to love for the fear of being hurt. But to not have loved, to not have felt the immense joy it brings, would have been a far worse kind of death.” — Goldie Hawn
41. “Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.” ― Ann Landers
Letting Go of the Past Quotes
Letting go of the past — particularly the people and things you love most about it — isn’t easy. Let the following quotes instill the courage you need to release your grip and move forward.
42. “The past is a tyrant and it won't allow my family to come back to me. But the present generously lifts my downcast face and makes me see that, although I can't change what I was, I can construct what I will be.” ― Augusto Cury
43. “Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh
44. “The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.” ― Alan Wilson Watts
45. “Forgive the past. It is over. Learn from it and let go. People are constantly changing and growing. Do not cling to a limited, disconnected, negative image of a person in the past. See that person now. Your relationship is always alive and changing.” ― Brian Weiss
46. “You can love them, forgive them, want good things for them…but still move on without them.” ~Mandy Hale
47. “Once you realize you deserve a bright future, letting go of your dark past is the best choice you will ever make.” — Roy T. Bennett
48. “The great courageous act that we must all do, is to have the courage to step out of our history and past so that we can live our dreams.” — Oprah Winfrey
49. “You were hurt badly, and those scars will be with you forever. I feel sorry for you, I really do. But think of it like this: it’s not too late to recover. You’re young, you’re tough. You’re adaptable. You can patch up your wounds, lift up your head and move on.” — Haruki Murakami
50. “When we think we have been hurt by someone in the past, we build up defenses to protect ourselves from being hurt in the future. So the fearful past causes a fearful future and the past and future become one. We cannot love when we feel fear…. When we release the fearful past and forgive everyone, we will experience total love and oneness with all.” — Gerald G. Jampolsky
51. “The more anger towards the past you carry in your heart, the less capable you are of loving in the present.” — Barbara De Angelis
52. “If you’re still hanging onto a dead dream of yesterday, laying flowers on its grave by the hour, you cannot be planting the seeds for a new dream to grow today.” — Joyce Chapman
53. “Let go. Why do you cling to pain? There is nothing you can do about the wrongs of yesterday. It is not yours to judge. Why hold on to the very thing which keeps you from hope and love?” — Leo Buscaglia
Letting Go of a Relationship Quotes
Not every relationship is meant to last forever (or even for years). Still, when you have good memories attached to a particular relationship, they make it harder to let go.
54. “Letting go does not mean you stop caring. It means you stop trying to force others to.” ― Mandy Hale
55. “Accept the fact that you will grow apart from people you’ve had significant relationships with. Understand when someone no longer positively affects your life. Let them go. Don’t hinder your growth.” ~Unknown
56. “Of course, you never really forget anyone, but you certainly release them. You stop allowing their history to have any meaning for you today. You let them change their haircut, let them move, let them fall in love again. And when you see this person you have let go, you realize that there is no reason to be sad. The person you knew exists somewhere, but you are separated by too much time to reach them again.” — Chelsea Fagan
57. “If your heart hurts a little after letting go of someone or something, that’s okay. It just means that your feelings were genuine. No one likes endings. But sometimes we have to put things that were once good to an end after they turn toxic to our wellbeing. Not every new beginning is meant to last forever. And not every person who walks into your life is meant to stay.” — Najwa Zebian
58. “Sometimes, soulmates may meet, stay together until a task or life lesson is completed, and then move on. This is not a tragedy, only a matter of learning.” ― Brian Weiss
59. “It happens to everyone as they grow up. You find out who you are and what you want, and then you realize that people you’ve known forever don’t see things the way you do. So you keep the wonderful memories, but find yourself moving on.” ― Nicholas Sparks
60. “A competitive and insecure woman will tell you that “true love” is never giving up on someone you’re in love with. A confident and spiritual woman knows that “moving on” doesn’t mean you never loved someone. She realizes that letting go is what God needs her to do because both your happiness and hers requires taking different journeys for spiritual growth. Letting go is sometimes the hardest thing, but it is the most “real love” you will ever experience.” ― Shannon L. Alder
61. “You loved him enough to let him leave… Now you need to love yourself enough to let him go.” ― Ranata Suzuki
62. “Sometimes it takes a heartbreak to shake us awake and help us see we are worth so much more than we’re settling for.” ― Mandy Hale
63. “Sometimes the door closes on a relationship, not because we failed but because something bigger than us says this no longer fits our life. So, lock the door, shed a tear, turn around and look for the new door that’s opened. It’s a sign that you’re no longer that person you were, it’s time to change into who you are. It’s going to be okay.” ~Lee Goff
Letting Her Go Quotes
If she just doesn’t want to stay — no matter how good you had it for a while — it’s time to let her go. Show her you love her enough to respect her freedom.
You would expect the same if you were the one who chose to leave.
64. “My heart might be bruised, but it will recover and become capable of seeing the beauty of life once more. It’s happened before, it will happen again, I’m sure. When someone leaves, it’s because someone else is about to arrive – I’ll find love again.” ― Paulo Coelho
65. “You've got to know when to let a woman go if you want to keep her, and if you don't want to keep her you let her go anyhow so it's always a process of letting go, one way or the other.” ― Charles Bukowski
66. “Sometimes we must undergo hardships, breakups, and narcissistic wounds, which shatter the flattering image that we had of ourselves, in order to discover two truths: that we are not who we thought we were; and that the loss of a cherished pleasure is not necessarily the loss of true happiness and well-being.” ― Jean-Yves Leloup
67. “The quickest way to rectify that mistake (choosing the wrong person) is by learning from that, moving on, and choosing much more wisely in the future.” ― Greg Behrendt
68. “If you have ever, sir, been through a breakup of a romantic relationship that involved great love, you will perhaps understand what I experienced. There is in such situations usually a moment of passion during which the unthinkable is said; this is followed by a sense of euphoria at finally being liberated; the world seems fresh as if seen for the first time then comes the inevitable period of doubt, the desperate and doomed backpedaling of regret; and only later, once emotions have receded, is one able to view with equanimity the journey through which one has passed.” ― Mohsin Hamid
69. “The truth is if you reach a point where letting go is the only option, it usually means that this thing or someone already let you go. You are trying to stay in a place where you are not welcome anymore.” — Rania Naim
70. “Listen, I’m going to give you some advice, not because I think you need it, but because I feel like I’ve earned it. The right, I mean. To give advice. Here it is: don’t hold onto things. It’s a problem the men in my family have. It’s taken me a long time to figure this out. Me, my father, my grandfather, we collect things. We collect miseries. It’s what we do. But sometimes the best thing to do is to just let things go. To let them pass.” — Joe Meno
Sad Letting Go Quotes
It hurts to let go of something good in your life — especially when it seems more likely that you’ll never have it as good with someone else or that you’ll die alone.
Accept your feelings of sadness as a natural consequence of losing someone you love. They’re nothing to be ashamed of.
Only when you accept your sadness and the reason behind it can you also come to accept that you made the right decision in letting this person go.
71. “You can’t keep dancing with the devil and ask why you’re still in hell”. ~Unknown
72. “Because maybe, in a way, we didn’t leave it behind nearly as much as we might once have thought. Because somewhere underneath, a part of us stayed like that: fearful of the world around us, and no matter how much we despised ourselves for it–unable quite to let each other go.” — Kazuo Ishiguro
73. “What is broken is broken – and I’d rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I lived.” ― Margaret Mitchell
74. “If love becomes too painful, then it’s time to let that love go and save yourself. You have to keep this in mind because you’ll be able to find another love but not another self.” ~Robert Tew
75. “Just because someone has been in your life for many years, doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be a point at which you finally decide to let go.” ~Wilfred James Dolor
76. “When she left, it was like someone had ripped my heart out, crumbled it up like a flimsy piece of loose leaf paper and crammed it back into my chest. It somehow managed to work, but it would never, ever feel the same.” ― Steph Campbell
77. “I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.” — Beryl Markham
78. “I commit her to memory. When I'm alone, I feel a strange yearning, the hunger of a man fasting not because he believes but because he's ashamed. Not the cleansing hunger of the devout, but the feverish hunger of the hypocrite. I let her go every evening only because there's nothing I can do to stop her.” ― Mohsin Hamid
79. “The heart will break, but broken live on.” ― Lord Byron
80. “Everyone in life is gonna hurt you, you just have to figure out which people are worth the pain.” ― Erica Baican
81. “Most things are forgotten over time. Even the war itself, the life-and-death struggle people went through is now like something from the distant past. We’re so caught up in our everyday lives that events of the past are no longer in orbit around our minds. There are just too many things we have to think about everyday, too many new things we have to learn. But still, no matter how much time passes, no matter what takes place in the interim, there are some things we can never assign to oblivion, memories we can never rub away. They remain with us forever, like a touchstone.” ― Haruki Murakami
82. “There comes a time for departure even when there is no certain place to go”. ~Tennessee Williams
83. “You can love them, forgive them, want good things for them…but still move on without them.” ~Mandy Hale
84. “Letting go is not getting rid of memories. Memories will stay, they always do. Letting go is making sure that the pain associated with the memories goes away.” ~Arti Honrao
85. “Sorrow is how we learn to love. Your heart isn’t breaking. It hurts because it’s getting larger. The larger it gets, the more love it holds.” — Rita Mae Brown
86. “Letting go may sound so simple, but rarely is it a one-time thing. Just keep letting go, until one day it’s gone for good.” ~Eleanor Brownn
87. “Letting go is the willingness to change your beliefs in order to bring more peace and joy into your life instead of holding onto beliefs that bring pain and suffering.” ~Hal Tipper
88. “Letting go doesn't mean that you don't care about someone anymore. It's just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself.” ~Deborah Reber
89. “Letting go means to come to the realization that some people are a part of your history, but not a part of your destiny.” ~Steve Maraboli
90. “Sometimes it takes a heartbreak to shake us awake & help us see we are worth so much more than we're settling for.” ~Mandy Hale
91. “I don’t think I’m going to like it at all. I think it’s going to hurt. But after the hurt I think maybe something good and strong and beautiful will come out of it.” ~Kathryn Erskine
92. “They say when you really love someone, you should be willing to set them free. So that is what I am doing. I will step back and you will move on. I will let you go….Your happiness means everything to me. I will listen for your voice in the distance. I will look at the moon. I will keep you in my pocket. I will carry your smile with me everywhere, like a warm and comforting glow.” — Tabitha Suzuma
93. “What happens when you let go when your strength leaves you and you sink into darkness, when there’s nothing that you or anyone else can do, no matter how desperate you are, no matter how you try? Perhaps it’s then, when you have neither pride nor power, that you are saved, brought to an unimaginably great reward.” ― Mark Halperin
Letting go isn’t the end.
It isn’t always the best or the happiest relationships you’ve had that are the hardest to let go of. Sometimes you hold on longer than you should because of something you admire in the other person.
Sometimes it’s about that person’s effect on your life. Even if the catalyst was an act of unkindness, you feel you owe a debt of gratitude to them. They taught you something you might never have learned from anyone else.
So, even if they’re not particularly pleasant to be around just now, you find it hard to let go of them or to move on. But just because you close a door doesn’t mean you have to lock it.
The same goes for those who are responsible for some of your favorite memories.
If you have to let go of them now, it doesn’t mean you’ll never see them again.
It might just mean you both have some learning to do in separate learning environments.
So, celebrate your loved one’s desire to learn, to explore, and to grow.
Give them the space they need and remember that, in so doing, you’re also giving yourself the space to grow, to experience new things, and to contribute in different ways.
Enjoy the adventure. Be honest with and good to yourself. And may your love and compassion influence everything you do today.