Our past experiences can have a significant impact on our daily lives. We base our decisions on events that have happened in the past and sometimes dwell on past experiences or people.
Letting go is not an easy thing to do. It may be easier for some, but harder for others. Let’s explore how you can learn to let go of the past, step by step.
How to Let Go of The Past
Try to examine how the past has impacted you. This may require some deep self-reflection on your part. Refer back to the moments that have completely changed the course of your life.
What decisions did you make?
What regrets do you have?
What emotional reactions does the past bring up?
How is the past now impacting the present and your choices in the future?
What fears are you holding onto?
By diving deep within ourselves and taking the time to reflect, only then can you begin to let go of the past and move on.
Why It’s So Hard to Let Go of The Past
Letting go of the past is difficult because sometimes we don’t even realize how much it affects us. It’s not easy to identify the pain or suffering we may still feel from past experiences. This is because we may not even be conscious or aware of it.
There may be things that happened in the past that we have yet to forgive ourselves for. Or perhaps not enough time has gone by for us to get over something or someone.
Keep in mind that time can be your greatest friend when it comes to letting go of the past.
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15 Steps To Let Go of The Past
1. Realize your feelings are valid
It doesn’t matter how long ago something in the past happened. While your reaction to your feelings may not be valid, the emotion is. Stop suppressing a need to bury those feelings or you’ll never move on.
The first step is accepting what caused you pain completely. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions are attached to the past.
2. Physically let out the negative emotions peacefully
Now that you have acknowledged that you’re upset, it’s time to release it. Take all those pent up feelings and direct it at something like newspapers or old magazines.
As you feel all the emotions that thoughts of the past bring, tear them apart! Tear them all to little shreds and with it, your anger and sadness. Throw the remains away and picture yourself throwing away any negativity.
3. Accept that it is time to let go of the past
You’ve taken the time to really feel all the negative emotions. So to move on, you have to accept that this negativity that you carry serves no purpose.
Whatever painful event occurred should stay in the past instead of at the forefront of your mind. Make the decision to actively let go of the past. Leave the past where it belongs.
4. Identify what is keeping you from moving forward
It’s essential to get to the root of your anguish. Yes, the event was painful, but why is it still haunting you to this day? If you are ruminating on an ex, it could be that you are lonely.
Figuring out the reason why the past hurts you so much can help you come up with a strategy. You can’t change the past, but you can mitigate the pain that comes with it in this way.
5. Meditate on what you could change for the future
It hurts to think of the past sometimes. The silver lining is that the past teaches you what to do in the future. Come up with how you would have handled the event that haunts your mind.
Whenever the thought comes up again, tell yourself that you have the power to change it if a similar scenario occurs. You wouldn’t know how to handle events from the past if they never happened.
6. Know it’s time to forgive
Forgive yourself or anyone that caused the trauma to truly let go of the past. There is no way you can think of the future when you can only be angry in the present. It does no good to hold onto the negative emotions even if someone did really hurt you or you hurt someone.
You’ve already acknowledged the feelings are valid. Since you have accepted the hurt happened, there is no need to dwell on it.
7. Get professional help
There is a stigma about getting professional help when it comes to mental health. If you are having a difficult time letting go of past trauma, consider calling a free hotline or seeing a therapist.
It’s completely normal and human to reach out to an expert when you can’t solve an issue alone. Why should your mental health be any different?
8. Talk to a loved one about it
You have your own notions about what happened in the past. Having a loved one to talk to about it helps you voice what’s bothering you and validates it. Your loved one can probably offer a fresh take on why you should let go of the past.
At a minimum, talking to someone you trust about your issue can help dissipate it. It might be hard to bring it up, but it will be worth it.
9. Practice meditation/yoga
Both meditation and yoga help control your thoughts. By practicing either one or both, you will get closer to being mindful of your thoughts. Both activities force you to concentrate at the present moment at hand instead of past events.
There is a wealth of free information on how to get started with either. Improved concentration and flexibility is an added bonus.
10. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day
Exercising is great for your physical health, but research shows it helps with your mental health as well. According to Harvard, exercise can help improve negative emotions drastically.
Endorphins associated with happiness (like dopamine) are released when you exercise. You can choose to start off exercising for at least 15 minutes and then increasing it to 30 over 1-2 weeks.
11. Check out content about how to let go of the past
The Internet is a great resource for free information to moving forward. There are YouTube videos dedicated to helping you overcome trauma. Choose to check a few out or if you like reading, a book about it.
There are just as many books about this topic as videos. Additionally, there are blogs that touch on the subject as well.
12. Acknowledge thoughts of the past then let them go
At this point, you hopefully feel a little less raw about the past. That doesn’t mean that thoughts of the painful past won’t come again. They will inevitably come up, but acknowledge the thought and then let it flow away from your mind like water.
Eventually, the past will not be so painful to think about. It will just be another memory.
13. Start journaling
Writing down your troubles is a powerful way to get them off your chest. Medical reviewers from the University of Rochester Medical Center say just that.
Journaling every day can greatly alleviate any ill sentiment you carry towards moments of the past. Write as much or as little as you want. Make it easy for yourself.
14. Dive into what you’re passionate about
Immersing yourself in what drives you is a surefire way to let go of the past. When you are busy doing what makes your heart sing, there’s little room for anything else.
Clear the way for your bright future by making an effort to engage in positive activities. It helps if you block out time to do it. That way, you can hold yourself accountable.
15. Spend time with people that make you happy
Getting over the past doesn’t happen right away. By spending time with people that make you happy, you can focus on the present. You’ll have such a great time with them that you will have no choice but to be happy.
Spending time with the people you love lets you see that the past is not worth holding onto when there are so many joyous memories to make.
Stop Dwelling in The Past For Good
Dwelling in the past with leaving us frustrated and depleted. Instead, focus your attention on the present and learn to embrace it. Keep in mind that life is full of problems and regrets, but moving forward is the only way to overcome them. Look forward to what the future may bring.