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On New Year’s Eve someone close to me sent this joke text:

We each choose to celebrate the New Year in our own way. Looking back on 2021, I’m choosing to focus on the bitterness engendered by the triumph of my many enemies and the disappointment brought about by the failure of my many unfulfilled dreams.

OK, so it is a joke, and I think no one needs a PhD in psychology to realize that hanging on to bitterness and disappointment is not the path to happiness and fulfillment. Quite the opposite, being able to “let go” is a crucial part of mental and emotional health. We were blessed with a gorgeous foliage display here in Southwest Virginia last October and November, and as someone wrote, “Trees in autumn are proof that letting go is beautiful.”

Whether it is bravely changing jobs, leaving a job to return to school, giving an adult child the wings to fly the coop, or maybe realizing you have “outgrown” a relationship, there is a time to “let go.”

I used to work at a school where one secretary had a plaque on the wall with this in fancy script: “Everyone brings joy to this office. Some when the come in, and some when they leave.”

Below is a poem I first heard in a Charles Swindoll podcast that explains what “letting go” is and isn’t.

To “let go” does not mean to stop caring,
it means I can’t do it for someone else.

To “let go” is not to cut myself off,
it’s the realization I can’t control another.

To “let go” is not to enable,
but to allow learning from natural consequences.

To “let go” is to admit powerlessness,
which means the outcome is not in my hands.

To “let go” is not to try to change or blame another,
it’s to make the most of myself.

To “let go” is not to care for,
but to care about.

To “let go” is not to fix,
but to be supportive.

To “let go” is not to judge,
but to allow another to be a human being.

To “let go” is not to be in the middle arranging the outcomes,
but to allow others to affect their own destinies.

To “let go” is not to be protective,
it’s to permit another to face reality.

To “let go” is not to deny,
but to accept.

To “let go” it not to nag, scold or argue,
but instead to search out my own shortcomings, and correct them.

To “let go” is not to adjust everything to my desires
but to take each day as it comes,
and cherish myself in it.

To “let go” is not to criticize and regulate anybody
but to try to become what I dream I can be.

To “let go” is not to regret the past,
but to grow and live for the future.

To “let go” is to fear less,
and love more.

– Attributed to Alice Cordy

As we launch into the unknowns of 2022, is there anything you need to “let go” of?

–Scott Dreyer

Scott Dreyer M.A. in his classroom. Dreyer, of Roanoke, has been a licensed teacher since 1987 and now leads a team of educators teaching English and ESL to a global audience. Their website is

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