Sarah’s Corner: Put the Glass Down and Let Go


Put the Glass Down and Let Go 

Sarah Pachter

A professor once held a glass half-filled with water in front of his class and asked, “How heavy do you think this is?”

Students called out various answers: “Two ounces,” “Six ounces,” and so on.

The professor looked at them and said, “You’re all right.” The students looked at each other, wondering, How could that be? until he added, “How heavy something feels just depends on how long you’ve been holding onto it.”[1]

The longer we carry painful experiences, the stronger the emotional tie to that person or circumstance becomes. Catherine Ponder, bestselling author, writes, “When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel.”

A friend of mine was strongly chained to her smoking addiction. After years of unsuccessful attempts to quit on her own, she started seeing a hypnotist. She has not touched a cigarette since.

“How is that possible?” I asked her. “You try this hypnosis thing, and you haven’t smoked a cigarette in two years! What did he say to you?”

The hypnotist explained that most people know that smoking is unhealthy. Intellectually, they realize that stopping is the best option, but emotionally they pursue the immediate gratification of indulging. People can spend years battling between the subconscious and conscious, but usually break through from a wake-up call in the form of a health scare. After facing mortality, the smoker realizes she simply cannot continue down this path. That’s when the hypnotist has the highest rate of success.[2]

Just like the smoker must stop using cigarettes, if they want to live, we too have emotional addictions, such as rage, painful memories, and jealousy that we must quit if we want to lead a healthy life. Jealousy, anger, and resentment only hurt the person feeling it, and therefore must stop if we want to lead our best lives.

Here are three practical ways to let go.

Be Proud

Jill, a student of mine, relayed that she kept reliving an emotionally painful and difficult time in her life. She had trouble shaking the memories, and it was beginning to affect her daily functioning and happiness. I shared an idea that gave her an opportunity to move on.

“Jill, turn your pain into pride. Instead of thinking about how painful that time period was, focus on how proud you should be to have survived it. Despite the circumstances, you were so responsible and brave, and that is remarkable.”

It is important to validate the pain as real, and then move to more prideful thoughts. Turn your pain into pride, became a motto for her, and helped transform the negative memory into something positive.


These days, while health experts tell us not to touch our face when outside the home, I find myself attempting to do it constantly! It’s hard to sway the mind from thinking about something forbidden. One of the best ways to avoid negative thoughts or behaviors is to starve the thought by replacing it with another thought.

The other day, I was checking in with my friend Eva Kohan, who is 98 years old. As a survivor of Auschwitz, and someone who has prevailed against unimaginable challenges, I asked her how she was able to let go of all the pain from the past.

She answered, “I don’t know if I ever fully let go, but I try not to think about it. I replace the memories with distraction.”

When painful memories and circumstances creep up, we have the power to busy our minds and comfort our bodies with healthy distraction.


One evening, I was reading a book about unusual animals to my daughter, and the axolotl really caught my attention. It is a unique salamander with a remarkable ability to regenerate. If a portion of its body becomes damaged when fleeing a predator, it is able to regrow its limbs by ‘letting go’ of damaged ones. It can recreate almost any body part, including its spine, jaws, and even its brain.[3] It simply lets go of what is holding it back.

Renewal is one of the greatest gifts we have as humans. When we regenerate after hardship, we grow back even stronger and more secure.

Another friend of mine is also a master of regeneration. Years ago, she was a victim of domestic violence. She chose to leave her husband and create a new life for herself and her children.

Despite her difficult past, she is known to all as an upbeat and cheerful woman. She explained to me how this was possible. “I could have easily succumbed to depression. I had three children under the age of three. It was the middle of the year, and I was suddenly alone with no financial or emotional support.

“I had a choice—to stay in the pain and not really be living, or to move forward and make a new life. I needed to create my own happiness. Focusing on my new life was my only way out. Rather than falling to despair, I viewed the separation as an opportunity for a fresh start.”

She was able to view her life through a new set of glasses. She ignored her negative past while choosing renewal. She focused forward and was able to survive.

Holding on to old wounds can cause deep-seated pain that sometimes leads to unhealthy comforts and addictions. Letting go of that pain is a choice.

By feeling proud, distracting ourselves, and regenerating, we can move forward. It’s not easy, but we can let go of old pain, we can move one, and we can lead beautiful lives filled with joy. Put the heavy glass down and move forward, unburdened.

[1] Shared by Rabbi Tzvi Sytner

[2] Source: Hypnotist Kerry Gaynor

[3] Jess Keating, Cute as an Axolotl, pg. 2