Some of us have a hard time letting go of the past. Maybe you replay the mistakes you made, or you think what if? What if I would have reacted differently, what if I would have made a different choice, what if, what if, what if.
Letting go of the past is indeed connected to a lot of “What Ifs” with this there is a lot of pain attached, and that is the reason why you cannot let go. So let’s talk about the different reasons for why letting go of the past is so difficult.
Maybe you made a wrong decision. You might have broken up with someone, moved somewhere else or you left your job for a new one. Or the opposite might be the case; maybe you did not take the new job or did not have the guts to enter a new relationship or did not move to a new city. Whatever the reason was, you are currently unhappy with your life; your mind tells you that if you had made a different decision, you would be happier.
Whatever your decision or non-decision was, remind yourself, you can choose again. Far too often we think we have to stick with our choice. Admit when you were wrong and try again. Of course, certain things can be challenging; you might not be able to get your old job or your partner back. However, you can try and tell your ex-boss that you are severely unhappy and regret the choice. If you have made a decision, you regretted, always remember you can choose again. Get it out of your head and try to reverse it or move forward and forgive yourself. Understand that there are so many opportunities in life, you only have to take them.
Maybe you have hurt someone, or stolen or lied to someone. This also ties in with regret. Make sure that you try your hardest to reverse it, pay the money back, apologize, admit you were wrong. We all make mistakes. In severe cases, please ask for professional help. Especially if you have anger issues or problems with jealousy.
Maybe you had a life-threatening disease, a terrible accident or got severely hurt by someone. Trauma appears when we did not expect those terrible things will ever happen to us. Those things hit us out of the blue. Our brain is in such a shock that it has to digest this dreadful event. Your mind replays the past to find a way to prevent this ever happening again. Letting go of the past can be difficult in this situation. If you have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), please see a specialist who helps you.
Maybe you lost either a person (break-up or death) or a job you dearly loved. It even could be that you retired from your job and find yourself now in a different stage of life. You are going through a grieving process, and parts of it are holding onto those happy memories you had, and you started to understand that these are in the past.
Especially with a loss, we are holding onto the past because we cannot see any happy moments in the future, very likely because what we lost belonged to our routine. Give yourself time, understand that you will have more happy moments in your life. If you have problems with grieving and letting go, see a specialist who helps you through this.
You attach your self-worth to the past
The past is gone and with it your self-worth. Whatever was in the past you attached your self-esteem to it. You identified yourself with it, and now it is gone. When we connect our self-worth to labels like jobs, partners, materialistic things we get out of balance when those things are not there anymore. Your self-esteem and self-love are in trouble when you do this. Create inner happiness and anchor your self-worth to your self-awareness. Be aware not only of your flaws but of your talents and gifts too.
You probably can even add more things to the list.
Letting go of the past, how do I do it?
Holding onto the past is holding onto something that is not there anymore. It steals your joy in the current moment and prevents you from creating a happy future.
Here are some simple tips to help you let go of the past:
- Apply gratitude, highlight what you are grateful for in life.
- Understand that changes happen in life. You can adapt, remind yourself that you adapted to different circumstances before.
- You are not able to change the past, but in the here and now you can take actions. Those actions will help you create a happy future. Ruminating and thinking about the past is a time waster. Instead of thinking and contemplating you can start putting new plans into action for a happy future.
- Good or bad, the past helped you to grow. Life is a learning curve.
- Failure and mistakes are part of life. Every single one of us will make mistakes and fail. There is not one person on the planet that never failed or never has made any mistakes.
Overall, life is a journey; you are growing, you are learning. We all take things sometimes far too seriously.
I wish for you that you can let go of your past and decide to create a new future today.
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Article written by Jennifer White of Strong Heart Awakening. Jennifer White Ad. Dip. Psych. is a global human potential thought leader, blogger, Psychological Therapist with CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) skills, Life Coach and Public and Motivational Speaker. Jennifer White has experience in counseling and coaching people with substance misuse, anxiety and depression. She is currently working as a self-employed Psychological Therapist and Life Coach in her practice, helping people reaching their real potential. She holds public and motivational speeches and shared her ideas with other speakers on the stage of the Celebrate Your Life event in Arizona 2016. She runs successfully her self-development and self-help groups on- and offline.
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