Finally figuring out how to let go of the past is easier said than done, because sometimes the hardest battles are within yourself. Everyone has a past experience (or two or three) that they feel ashamed of or want to erase from their memory. But the mind is a funny thing — even when you truly want to let the past go, it still somehow creeps up on you like a plague.
While your past might have some dark events that are hard to get over, there are a lot of ways to do so — but nobody can do it besides you. My past wasn't the greatest. It was filled with more family drama than you can put into a telenovela. But I had to overcome it to be successful and happy in my own life. I know that people make mistakes and feelings can get in the way, but in the end, you have to realize that the past is in the past and whatever did happen will only make you that much of a stronger person. While I could have been angry and chosen not to move on, I would only be hurting myself by holding on to the anger. The one good thing about the past is that it is already in the past. You shouldn't have to deal with it anymore. Instead of dwelling on it, let's talk about overcoming it in a few ways that might be able to help someone that just can't let go. It's a lot easier than you think.
1. Acknowledge Why The Past Is Still Bothering You
The best way to get over the past is by simply finding out why it still bothers you. If the past is still affecting your present self, then figure out why that is happening. Learn to understand the events and why they happened. By doing this, you can slowly figure out why the past is still bothering you. In my own life, I had to come to term with some of the personalities of my family members, past events, and why they made certain decisions. By acknowledging their upbringing, why their choices were made, and how those choices affected me in my own life, I have realized that they are the way they are because of how they grew up, which then, allows me to forgive in more ways than one.
2. Let Go Of The Negative Emotions
When your past keeps creeping up on you, a wave of negative emotions comes along with it. But don't let them stop you in your tracks. Remember that you are not that person anymore, or that event that had happened is not that significant to you during the present. According to a Psychology Today article, there are a few exercises you can do by getting rid of those negative thoughts. The minute you start to remember something, try saying these sentences, "I did the best I could when I..." or "I had much to learn yet when I..." By saying these things, you are acknowledging the past, but you are also coming to terms with it as well.
3. Forgive Yourself & Others
I think I forgive too easily sometimes; I just hate being mad. It's one of my worst and best qualities, IMO, because sometimes I feel I am a huge placemat, and I wonder why these situations keep on happening — well, it's because I keep on allowing them to happen. If there is one person I always have a hard time forgiving, it is myself. According to a PsychCentral article, forgiving yourself is an important part to forgiveness overall. Sometimes people blame themselves for actions they may or may not have done, but there is no reason why you need to keep beating yourself over it. Because if you do, you can't look forward to the future when you can't forgive the past.
4. Learn To Grow With Your Past, Instead Of Evading It.
What is the point of hiding from your past? No matter how big the circumstances are, you should never be so ashamed of it that it cripples you as a person. While every past event is not created equal, there are ways to embrace it without pretending it never existed. I love my grandmother, but when I was growing up, she was so ashamed of some of her children's decisions that she wouldn't even talk about it with her closest loved ones. It was no surprise when I entered a new relationship that I shouldn't tell my boyfriend about my childhood past. While I do understand my grandmother's perspective, I don't agree with her. If I want to be in a committed relationship with someone, I want them to know what events have happened and how I became the person I am today. If someone is going to judge you based on those events, then maybe that person isn't supposed to be in your life in the first place.
5. Stop Living In The Past
If you catch yourself constantly bringing up the past one way or another, you are not allowing yourself to get away from it. Don't allow yourself to be a victim when you know that what was done is done and there is nothing you can do to change it. If I could change my past, I would have done a few things differently (especially have dessert more often), but you have to realize that what has happened in the past has made you the person you are today. Take the past events as a learning experience or use it to help other people. Whatever you decide to do with it, turn your negative into a positive and you will soon start feeling better about yourself and what your past consisted of.
6. Get Rid Of The People Who Are Still Living In The Past
This one might be hard to do, especially if that person has a lot of significance in your life. But the thing is, you can't let go and grow if that particular person is holding you back. Most of the time, that person doesn't even realize they are still doing those things, and if that is the case, it might be time to have a talk with them. If those characteristics and actions are still not changing, then it might be time to pull the lever. A lot of my past troubles are due to my family, and as much as I would like to have particular people in my life, I have realize that some of them cause more harm than good. Of course, this depends on the situation, but when you stop thinking nice things about a particular person, it might be time to reevaluate your relationship, especially if they are not letting go of the past themselves.
Letting go of the past takes a lot of time and patience, but by changing your habits and your thought process you are able to do this and soon you can start enjoying the past just as much as the present.
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