Do you keep replaying your past over and over again? Do you find it difficult to let your past go and move on? Are you using past experiences as a justification for your current actions?
Did you know that living in the past not only affects your mind but also your health? It can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, obesity, and anorexia. You feel tired all the time and you are not able to stay productive at work and enjoy all those little happy things life offers you. If it sounds familiar to you, it’s time to let go of everything that is holding you back.
Replaying the past over and over again doesn’t change it, and wishing things were different doesn’t make it so. Holding on to the past dominates the present and dictates what’s possible and what’s not. It’s a bit crazy that you limit yourself that way!
So you need to let go of the past so that you can be free and move on. You need to fly. Because no matter how hard you try, you don’t have the power to change your past. No one can change the past. What’s done is done and you can’t go back to the past and change the situation.
The only thing you CAN do is to accept it, learn from it and move on. But how? I have made a few steps with exercises that will help you.
Revisit and Acknowledge your feelings about the past
To be able to move on you first need to allow yourself to revisit all the memories and painful feelings.
Whatever past event you focus on, you need to express the feelings you have associated with the event, before you can move on. Getting out your pent up emotions can help you let go of the past and focus on the present. This is one of the most imperative steps you can take to make peace with your past.
Go to a quiet place and list, in details, all the things that have hurt you and still haunt you to this day. Don’t force yourself to remember all of it if it doesn’t come naturally. You can repeat this process again and again if you have to. You can journal or write a letter to someone that hurt you (just don’t send it!).
Writing those feelings on paper is a process that might shake your world upside down. And it could take a while to recover from. But know that this is ok and let your emotions go. Don’t rush or try covering up your emotions to get it over with. Let yourself dwell on the painful past and be patient. As you write down everything with complete honesty and have the willingness to be vulnerable again, the relief will come shortly.
Accept what is
Refusing to accept the past is arguing with the reality. No matter how much power and thought you put into it, the past is never going to change. Making peace with your past is mainly about accepting it for what it was. When you accept what is, that this has happened then it becomes easier to let go.
Accepting it, instead of disputing with it, will create a remarkable relief which will prevent your future from becoming an endless battle. The issue or your memory of the situation becomes less powerful in your mind. You don’t feel as upset or sad about it as you did before. You become less emotionally attached it. And so it becomes easier to let go and for you to move on with your life.
If you want to let go of shame, start by first accepting that you’re feeling shameful. Don’t argue with your thoughts and feelings. Don’t resist them. And don’t try to push them away. Instead, give them permission to exist. Tell yourself “Yes, I am feeling shameful” To accept guilt over something that happened, tell yourself, “Yes, I’m guilty.” If you struggle with forgiveness, tell yourself, “Yes, that’s right, I can’t forgive this person.”
This doesn’t mean that what you’re saying is true. Instead, it’s a tool to control negative thoughts and emotions so they don’t control you. By agreeing with them, the battle between you and them ends. When there’s nothing more to argue about, they lose their power over you.
Find the hidden treasure
There is a hidden treasure in all of our experiences. And I know this can be challenging to see at first. But all your past events has made you the incredible and strong person you are today. So you need to ask yourself: “What good things came out of my past experiences?” “What have I learned from it?” Maybe you learned how to be a stronger person? Maybe you have been able to help others and make a difference in other people’s lives because you have shared a similar experience?
A great first step for training your mind to look for the good, is writing them down. I encourage you to start listing all the good things that came out of your pain and start making peace with your past.
Forgive and let go
We don’t forgive and hold on to angry and resentful feelings because we think it somehow serves us. We want to punish the other person and we can’t let go of the feelings of anger, disappointment, resentment and frustration. It feels like we are letting someone off the hook if we forgive. Our ego wants to punish them but actually holding on those feelings will only hurt you. You are the one who carries the burden.
Forgiveness lets you regain your power back and it frees you to live in the present. This way you are able to see and enjoy today’s beauty and you are not stuck in the past.
So you don’t forgive to make the one who did you wrong feel better. You forgive for yourself. When you hold on to hurt, pain, resentment, and anger it harms you far more than it harms the offender. If you forgive it doesn’t mean that you are pardoning. You simply are seeing that what someone did to you was a result of his or her hurt. When you see it from their eyes you will see that they made the wrong decisions because they were hurt, miserable or confused
Assigning different meaning to painful situations could transcend many years worth of misery and suffering into positive and permanent life shift.
The situation suddenly bothers you much less and you find yourself starting to attract very different and much more positive experiences in your life. So the best way to release the pain and negative energy we harbor from the past is to forgive. We must forgive both those people and situations that hurt us, but more importantly we must also forgive ourselves. If we don’t forgive ourselves, then we cannot forgive others. Forgiveness clears also the cobwebs so that you can see the good again.
Change your focus
You need to focus on the positive in life. Stay aware and be conscious when negative thoughts and feelings arise. Let them come and go as they please, and do not suppress them. Staying mindful of each passing thought is important. You can consciously direct your train of thought into making peace with your past by putting the emphasis on thoughts that serve your healing.
Realize that not everything in life is meant to be modified or perfectly understood. Live, let go, learn what you can and don’t waste energy worrying about the things you can’t change. Focus exclusively on what you can change, and if you can’t change something you don’t like, change the way you think about it.
Set every morning your intention to find the good and see it around you. And you may be surprised how your focus will change.
While positive thinking is great, positive actions will take you farther. Make a deliberate decision to initiate positive change in your life, and make positive actions that will connect you with your desired outcome.
Make a decision to fully let go of the past
Making peace with your past requires you to consciously decide you are ready to do so. It’s about realizing that you’re tired of reliving that past every single day. Decide right now that you’re not going to keep letting the past predict your future.
Decide and believe that you deserve better. Letting go begins with choosing to do that. And this time for real.