It would be best if you let go of painful memories to move forward in life. Unchain yourself from the past and free yourself to be happy again. Otherwise, you’ll internalize these thoughts and get trapped in the past!
Why do we allow the past to consume our present?
Many times when we think about the past, it’s because we still hold resentments and grudges from what happened.
Unfortunately, we aren’t taught how to let go of painful memories or traumatic events.
Most people are left to figure out how to get over these things or if we should even let them go. As a result, they carry these harmful thoughts with them for life.
When you think of what you should let go of, do you come up with these excuses?
- “I’m so angry, I’ll never get over this!”
- “It would be uncaring of me to let this go.”
- “I should be punished with these memories.”
- “I don’t deserve to let this go.”
These thoughts will hold you back and make every day miserable. So, don’t let the past define your entire life.
Over time, these emotions destroy your ability to trust anyone because now you’re on your guard against anyone mistreating you. Conversely, your guarded mentality will attract more mental abuse from others.
That’s no way to live! Imagine how carefree you’ll be after you free yourself!
Instead, release these negative memories and you’ll feel a massive weight lifted from your shoulders. You don’t need them anymore anyway! Deal? Great, let’s do this!
How to let go of the past
1. Choose now to let go
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”
– Albert Einstein
Getting over the past begins with the choice to finally release it. Besides, holding on to what happened doesn’t help, and wishing things were different won’t change them. So, it’s best to let it go.
Furthermore, tightening your grip on it will only destroy you.
2. Write it out to let it go
The first step to releasing the past is to define exactly why you feel this way. So, get out a notebook or open a blank document because you’re going to see who you resent, why you feel this way, and how it has negatively affected your life.
Ask yourself these questions to let go of the past:
- What happened that was unfair? Write down who you resent and what they did to cause your anger.
- How did their actions make you feel (besides angry)? How do you think they felt?
- Has holding on to this affected your life? How did it change your level of security, trust, and safety?
Writing these answers down will get the negative thoughts out of your mind and on to paper, which makes it easier to examine them.
Afterward, you can burn the paper or just delete it, symbolizing you letting it go.
3. Learn to let go of what you can’t control
“Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t care about someone anymore. It’s just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself.”
– Deborah Reber
Learning to let go of things you can’t control is a critical life lesson! It would save so many people from a lifetime of torture if they learned this. It’s imperative to realize that you can’t change the past or other’s behaviors.
You can only control your actions. Although some people never take control of their lives, because they’re so worried about everyone else!
For instance, if someone wants to leave you or they can’t treat you right, let them go. Besides, it’s much better to be alone than with someone who makes you feel bad.
Yeah, it might hurt for a couple of weeks. But, someone is out there who really wants to be with you. So, stop wasting time with people who don’t.
4. Focus on a beneficial project
“Pain will leave you, when you let go”
– Jeremy Aldana
In order to release the habit of rumination, focus on something positive like a goal or a project. Learn a new skill or language, improve relationships, or get in shape.
You need to let go of this destructive anger and not in the form of yelling at your loved ones or random people in traffic.
Instead, do something enjoyable and creative to release your pain. You could paint, play an instrument, journal, or whatever you enjoy! It’s is a great way to release negative emotions.
Even small goals will help to calm you down and distract you from negative thoughts. So, when you start dwelling in the past, dive into your project.
5. Let go of the victim role
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”
– Carl Jung
Do you want to be remembered as someone who others always felt sorry for? No! You’re better than that.
Furthermore, don’t tell stories where you’re the victim. That’s dis-empowering to you and it weakens your soul. Instead, be the strong person who inspired others to live their best life no matter what happens.
6. Embrace the small things
“Why let go of yesterday? Because yesterday has already let go of you.”
– Steve Maraboli
If you have a belief about how your life “should be,” then let that go too. Life doesn’t follow your rules, and you’ll be able to cope much better if you realize this.
When you make it a point to think about what you’re thankful for, you train your brain to focus on positivity. Think about all the people and things you’re glad for daily.
Luckily, you can choose to focus on the good things you have despite what happened in the past. If you can’t think of anything positive, it’s because you’ve been marinating in self-pity for too long.
So, make it a point to notice and appreciate the good things. It can be as simple as a cool breeze, your dog’s loving gaze, family, or even the fact that you are alive today. When you’re thankful for everything in your life, you’ll start to realize that you’re luckier than you thought!
7. Accept what happened
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of harming another; you end up getting burned.”
Resentment takes over when you refuse to accept what happened. When you hold on to anger, you’re giving the offender power and control over your life.
You’re the one obsessing about what they did to you; they didn’t even ask for this power over you. You gave it to them.
However, this doesn’t mean that you condone the mistreatment. It just means you’re acknowledging that it happened and breaking free from it forever. That way, you can take back your power and drop this detrimental obsession in the mud where it belongs.
Your happiness is worth too much to give away to someone you don’t even like. Instead, accept what happened and choose to let it go.
Acceptance diminishes the power these thoughts have over you.
8. Forgive yourself and the offender
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
Pointing the finger away from yourself might make you feel justified, but this further exacerbates the problem for you! It’s better to acknowledge your role in the situation and forgive yourself, along with the offender.
I know it isn’t easy, but you must forgive them. You’re not teaching them a lesson by ruining your life. Yes, they hurt you, but if you never letting go of feeling wronged will only prolong your pain.
Besides, forgiving the offender won’t benefit them. Instead, it frees you from a lifetime of pain and anguish.
You might reject the idea of forgiving those who hurt you, but this is the only way for you to let go of what happened.
Always remember that forgiving the offender doesn’t mean what they did was okay! It means that you are going to forgive them so you can move on and be free.
If you hold on to their past actions, they win.
9. Have a good laugh.
“…when you let go of your expectations, when you accept life as it is, you’re free. To hold on is to be serious and uptight. To let go is to lighten up.”
– Richard Carlson
Don’t take things so seriously; take the time to relax and laugh! Research shows that laughing can relieve stress and ease (mental or physical) pain. Plus, it can strengthen your immune system.
So, if you’re dwelling in the past, stop and try to laugh at it. You survived, you learned, and now you’re stronger because of it!
In short, remember getting upset about the past only hurts you. Every minute is a chance to release these obsessions and start living your best life!
So, accept what has happened, learn from it and toss it in the trash!
If it shows up later, toss it out again. You’ll never change the past, so focus on what you can do to have an amazing day today! Don’t waste your life feeling angry over the past. Instead, be thankful for all the amazing things in your life! Decide that today is the day you let go of these negative memories forever!
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Are you going to let go?