A Week’s Worth of Journaling Prompts: Letting Go 9

I have a teenage son, which means that I am continually forced to balance my need for control with his need for independence. You’d think I’d be used to this dance by now — he’s my fourth — but as I’ve discovered, each child is a new experience. One day, when this son was still a little boy, I found myself pondering the nature of parenting and decided that parenting is, simply, a long process of letting go. From birth to adulthood and beyond, each step a child takes towards independence and a life of her own is a step away from her parents. For parents, this letting go process is anything but easy. Take it from me.

Learning to let go is, of course, not confined to the process of parenting. There is letting go of control related to others’ behaviors (family members and work colleagues come to mind), of life circumstances that are beyond our control (illness, job loss, natural catastrophe), and of people (relocation, death, divorce). And sometimes we have to let go of old dreams so that we may create new ones.

This week’s journaling prompts are designed to help you explore letting go.

  1. What does “letting go” mean to you? What do you think of when you hear the words “letting go”? And how do they make you feel? Use a deepening phrase to fully explore your thoughts.
  2. On a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is someone who goes with the flow and 10 is a control freak, where would you place yourself, why, and do you have negative judgments about where you are on that scale? Explain.
  3. In what ways is letting go similar to giving up, and in what ways is it different? Freewrite for at least ten minutes about this question.
  4. What was the most difficult thing, person, idea, or dream you’ve had to let go of? What happened in your life as a result of letting go?
  5. Is there anything in your life now that you wish to or have to let go of? How are you responding to that wish or requirement? What choices are you making and why?
  6. What is your greatest fear surrounding letting go of control? Repeat the deepening phrase, “If ________ happens, then …” to explore your fear.
  7. When you need to let go of something you don’t want to let go of, what do you do to cope? (Coping mechanisms might include journaling, crying, talking to friends, exercise, meditation, and so on.) What do you find most helpful in these situations?

Do you have a writing prompt or a story you’d like to share about letting go? Leave a comment below.


Image Credit: H. Koppdelaney
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9 thoughts on “A Week’s Worth of Journaling Prompts: Letting Go

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  • Dawn Herring

    This is such a huge topic, considering how many dimensions of life it touches. I think #4 about letting go of dreams is huge; and #6 on the fear of letting go of control is critical. Facing our fears in our journals often brings the action of letting go.

    I have chosen your post, A Week’s Worth of Journaling Prompts: Letting Go, as the #JournalChat Pick of the Day on 7/20/11 for all things journaling on Twitter. I will post a link on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, my blog Refresh with Dawn Herring, and in Refresh Journal.

    You’re welcome to join us for #JournalChat Live this Thursday as we talk about journal writing giving us confidence in our decision making.

    Thanks again, Amber, for providing such a valuable post on such an important topic as Letting Go.

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring
    JournalWriter Freelance
    Host of #JournalChat Live and Links Edition on Twitter

    • Amber Lea Starfire

      Thank you, Dawn. I think, for me, letting go of dreams — something I’ve often had to do — has been the most difficult. And yet, every time I have, wonderful new opportunities have opened to me. Looking back, I am mostly grateful for the twists and turns my life has taken. (While I wish I could say “always” instead of “mostly,” the latter is more honest.)

      I won’t be able to attend #JournalChat today because I have other commitments, but I am always honored when posts are chosen for your #JournalChat Pick of the Day.

  • Linda Sievers


    I agree that this is a HUGE topic, but a stimulating one. For me, letting go relates very well to the topic “On Freedom” from just a week ago. I’ve certainly experienced many moments in life when I was challenged to let go and instead exercised what I thought was my freedom to hold out for what I wanted or how I wanted things to be. This usually resulted in a lot of pain and turmoil. Now in my mid-60’s I am humbled and a bit awed that exercising my freedom to let go can result in less pain in the long run and produce outcomes better suited to who I am now, even in the face of death.

    Somehow, freedom in this country and perhaps the world has become a win/lose situation. All we have to do is read the news or listen to our politicians to witness the damage of this win/lose mentality that appears to be leading us where many of us do not want to go.

    I digress.

    Where and when possible, I encourage “letting go” and allowing those thoughts and feelings to emerge without judgement of self. Life is then not a journey of winning/losing, but an unfolding, and in time, perhaps a truer expression of the creative self.

    Or so I like to believe.

    I’m done!

    • Amber Lea Starfire

      Linda, freeing ourselves of judgment is such an important aspect of letting go, as well as realizing that letting go is not the same as losing (or winning). That, in fact, when we think only in black-and-white, dualistic ways, we lose perspective. Thank you for adding your thoughts to this discussion.

  • Sarita Ragazzone

    I have been wondering why i am having such a hard time dealing with the fact that my son, who is graduating from College on May 10, 2014 and has been accepted into a Graduate School that is located almost on the other side of the country from where we currently live. My children have all remained at home or close to home while in college and for the first time one of them is moving far away. I am so proud of his accomplishments and he has worked very hard to get where he is at with his education. I just worry that if he needs me I will be able to get to him fast enough and worry that he may get lonely or stressed or get robbed or taken advantage of. I think about how silly I sound and often wonder why I’m having such a difficult time with this transition and if all parents face the same anxieties and how to handle them all.

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