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Letting go with Compassion



When I was younger I used to worry I did not have the socially acceptable number of friends.  I had a small circle of friends, and I realise now I had little in common with them and even less emotional investment.  I would also have my Chernobyl friends, ones whose intensity was akin to a hot burning romantic crush, flashing brightly down the sky like a shooting star before leaving a wake of acrid smoke and bad memories.  I had many of those.  So many that I cannot even recall the names of some of the women I pledged everlasting love to.  Now all relegated to that unconscious wasteland known as “the one night stand that lasted for six months.”  Now I am in my fifties, the ageing Borderline in me has learned it is ok to “let go with compassion.”

I used to call it culling my address book: which sounds rather harsh and narcissistic.  My therapist coined the term “letting go with compassion” and it works for me.  I do not have to hate you and spit on your grave in order to move on with my life and remember the good times and let go of the not so good times.  Letting go of the old and worn out parts of your life means allowing something new to come into your life.

Self-compassion is the new BFF for me.  I have learned to love myself and enjoy being in my own company without numbing out on food or alcohol to deaden the emotions.  Sitting with myself as I shed off the old shin and grow a new one is quite a self-aware and absorbing way of passing the time.  I do this through meditation, mindfulness, reflection and blogging.  I am learning to be my own best friend and love my ageing body with all its liver spots, wrinkles and dawning wisdom.

I work with people and I sit and listen to them while they tell me about aspects of their lives that are not available to others because it would be too damaging to that relationship.  I always feel honoured by this.  I can most times relate and resonate with what they are sharing.  While this is not a friendship per se, it is a human interaction at a very deep level which fills me up.  People are smart and sometimes just need a “sounding board” to work out their own issues in a safe, caring, trustworthy space.  I like to think I can provide that space.

I could only do this work once I had cleared my own headspace and let go with compassion of long held beliefs, black and white thinking, ancient grudges and deep seated traumatic memories and learned to love the human race with all its faults and foibles.  It allows me to be at peace with who I interact with while not at work.  I have my family and very few close friends.  Letting go with compassion means I am not inauthentic with anyone else.  I care for that person and do not wish them harm, but I no longer feel having them in my life serves either of us any value.

Letting go with Compassion

Sonia Neale

Sonia Neale was recently awarded the Inaugural Barbara Hocking SANE Australia Fellowship to study and research Borderline Personality Disorder overseas in the USA, Canada, UK and Ireland. Her previous Psych Central blog was called Therapy Unplugged. She is the author of two books, The Bad Mother’s Revenge and Death by Teenager, both published by ABC Books/Harper Collins. She lives in Western Australia, is married with three adult children, has studied psychoanalytic psychotherapy, has a Certificate IV in Mental Health and is studying for a Psychology/Counselling degree. She currently works as a peer support worker in the mental health field. Please email her on davson at

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APA Reference
Neale, S. (2015). Letting go with Compassion. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 21, 2019, from


Last updated: 21 May 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 May 2015
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