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When to Let Go and Move On

The life skill of knowing when you’ve had enough and it’s time to let go and move on from situations—eating, relationships, jobs, groups and organizations, beliefs—is an essential one. In fact, the more you practice sensing when to let go and move on in non-eating situations, the more you’ll gain competence and confidence with eating just the right amount. Remember, though, the process is more art than science.

For instance, how long do you stay in a relationship which is unloving or abusive before getting out? How long do you cling to the hope that a parent will love or approve of you when every shred of evidence throughout your life points to the fact that they won’t? How long do you remain in a group (political, religious, sports, therapy, hobby, message board, etc.) when your heart says you’ve outgrown it? How long should you stay in a job you hate? The sense that it’s time to move forward even may hold true with identities, as we shift from being disregulated to more “normal” eaters.

My guess is that you generally think of giving up something—food, a person, a group, a geographical location—as a negative thing, something to be avoided. Your goal is to remain attached, and that’s what gets you into trouble. Your goal should be neither to stay connected nor to disconnect, but to do what is right for you. Leaving food on your plate or not isn’t right or wrong. What matters is whether you are satisfied, ie, did you get the best so that you can now leave the rest. This is true with friendships, marriages, jobs, and other affiliations as well. When things are no longer as good as they were, sure, explore what might be wrong and try some strategies to right them. But when that doesn’t work, consider that the balance has shifted and it’s time for a change.

Disconnection can be scary, but it is necessary and, in the long run, for your own good. Think of how proud you are when you leave half a sandwich on your plate because you’re full or satisfied. The relief you feel when you bow out of an organization because you’re no longer passionate about its mission or don’t care as much about its members. How freeing it is when love has died over time and you break away to find new love. How right it feels when you know that enough is enough!

Letting go and moving on is the natural order of life. We have to wave goodbye over here to say hello over there. When you begin to view life as a series of ongoing changes, this process becomes easier. Take a minute and think: where have you been hanging on too long?