Sometimes You Have to Let Go of the Past
Sometimes you have to let go. For years, we’ve all been singing. Let it Go, yet the majority of us aren’t taking the idea to heart. In life, there is only one true constant, and that’s change.
You can guarantee that change will hit you when you are at your most comfortable or settled when you’re down on your luck, it doesn’t care.
It comes for you whenever it wants. It’s an emotional challenge. There is only one way to get through it, and that is to go through it. A lot of that is rooted in the idea of letting go.
Something is comforting about holding onto the past. It’s familiar. The future is unknown and clinging to that comfort of the past provides you a constant. The problem is that constant is often negative.
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So, you’re holding onto failed relationships, a terrible job, hurt that you’ve caused and hurt that has been done to you. Unfortunately, many require the pain to become so great that it suddenly outweighs the fear of letting go. You don’t have to get to that point.
Letting go is a skill and letting go requires willpower, practice, and self-awareness.
Why Is It Good to Go out of Your Comfort Zone?
We all have dreams, thoughts, deep desires, and motivations. It’s not always easy to walk out of the comfort zone. It’s easier to hold onto our current skills, it’s easier to hold onto bad relationships and friendships, it’s easier to surround yourself with familiarity, it’s easier to keep your bad habits, to maintain bad routines, and hold onto memories that keep your past failures in the present. It’s easier. (Source)
It’s so much more painful than letting go. That comfort is what’s holding you back and limiting your growth. Perhaps even more dangerously, it’s stopping you from gaining self-awareness into who you are as a person.
Holding on to that comfort zone is making you miss out on a wealth of opportunities.
As humans, we have all experienced hurt. Unfortunately, it’s something that likely occurred early in life because that’s just how life is. By the time you reach your teenage years, you had likely experienced some emotional pains. That’s the total of puberty if we’re honest. Everybody hurts. What are you doing with that hurt? That’s more important.
Are you allowing it to hold you back, to stop you from really living your life? Do you spend your days ruminating on a past indiscretion or hurt, unable to move forward? We have all made mistakes.
We have all experienced hurt, and we have all done things we wish now that we could change. The truth is, there is no changing the past. Which is why the skill of letting go is so, so important.
How You Can Move Past Hurts
First of all, one of the most common (and damaging) things that we do is blame others. It’s easy to point to what someone else did wrong. It’s easy to believe we are owed an apology or at least an acknowledgment that they wrong us.
This type of victim mentality is only going to backfire. You are handing over all of your power to everyone else. Imagine how you would feel if you confronted this person and they shrugged it off. Or, if they challenged you back and said they did do x, but they refuse to apologize for it.
The only result you will have is hurt, anger, and still a lack of resolution.
That doesn’t mean that your feelings of pain or dismay aren’t legitimate. They may very well be, but that doesn’t mean you should hold on to them. You find your power when you let go and move on from them.
When you hold on to pain, you set up a cycle where you relive it. Your whole world revolves around this open wound that you can’t allow healing. Even when it begins to heal, you start to pick at the scab until it’s fully open again. (Source)
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5 Steps To Letting Go of the Past
How can you invite happiness into your life? You have to make space for it and if you are filled to the brim with pain, disappointment, and bitterness, how will you have room for the good stuff?
“Letting go gives us freedom and freedom is the only condition for happiness.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh (Source)
All of that hurt won’t just disappear by itself. Letting go requires commitment, it’s a conscious decision, and it’s one that you need to make upfront. Otherwise, you could fall prey to self-sabotage. Letting go as a conscious decision means that you recognize it’s your choice to do so. You are choosing to stop the cycle.
You are no longer going to relive those past hurts and pains. You are no longer going to overthink every past interaction or failure. It might sound small, but it’s empowering, and it will empower you to move forward.
#2. Express Pain & Embrace Responsibility
You can’t let go of your pain until you have taken the time to express it. You might not be able to direct it at the person who caused it – if too much time has passed, it’s unfair to do so. However, you can vent to a friend, write a letter to that person (but don’t send it) or write it all in a journal. If you choose to write a letter to someone, a good way to finish the exercise is ripping it up or setting it alight (safely, of course).
Otherwise, you may be tempted to read it again and obsess over it. A journal is slightly different. You can read it again and recognize your progress. The purpose of this exercise is that it will offer you an understanding of what your pain is really about.
The exercise offers you specifics. It’s so easy to view everything as black and white. It’s in the shades of gray. You feel hard done by, but you may have some responsibility for your pain. It may be small, but you should still embrace responsibility for your part.
Are you actively participating in your life or are you casting yourself in the role of victim? You have allowed your pain to become a major part of your identity. Aren’t you more complicated than that?
#3. Stop Playing the Victim Game
Believe it or not, it feels good to be the victim. You have set yourself up as a lone wolf – it’s just you… against everyone. The problem is that everyone doesn’t care. You matter you are unique, you are special, and your feelings count. However, that doesn’t mean you are so important that the world is plotting against you. Nor does it mean that your feelings matter more than everything else. They are just one aspect of a messy, complex, interwoven life.
You are faced with a decision – you can choose to feel good, or you can choose to obsess over the actions of others. You have to take responsibility for your happiness, instead of giving your power away to someone else. The person who hurt you in the past… do they deserve a hold over you now?
That’s what you do when you paint yourself as a victim – you allow them power over you. Nothing can change what has gone before, so why on earth would you devote so much of your time and energy into it? Especially when it’s someone who wronged you? (Source)
#4. Letting Go of the past & Live in the Present
It’s truly time to let go and stop reliving your past. It’s time to change your story – you aren’t the victim in the story, you’re the protagonist, and the protagonist is never a victim. You can’t change the past, and you can only live in the now. When you focus on the present, you have far less time to obsess over the past.
Those memories of the past will still creep in. That’s okay, and you can acknowledge them and then you push yourself back into the present. For some, it is easier to do this when there’s a cue.
You can come up with your own, something about acknowledging the past, but reminding yourself your happiness is in the here and now. If you allow your life to be crowded with all these negative feelings, you are choosing hurt. Instead, you should be opening your arms and embracing joy.
#5. Find Forgiveness
Forgiveness isn’t for the benefit of others, and it’s for your benefit. You don’t forgive someone to offer them closure, and you do so to provide yourself with closure. It’s easy to think about someone or something and stubbornly believe that you will never forgive them. Forgiveness isn’t an endorsement. That’s where there’s a lot of confusion. (Source)
You aren’t endorsing bad behavior; you are saying that you forgive the action, even though you don’t agree with it. There is no weakness in forgiveness. It’s an act of empathy and a physical act of letting go.
You should always extend forgiveness to yourself, as well as to others. We often place greater pressure on ourselves. As a result, we often treat ourselves more harshly. How can you obtain happiness and peace, if you are unable to forgive yourself and others?
It will take practice, and it will take time to learn to let go. However, it is one that is worth it. So, be kind as you practice how to refocus your attention to a situation.
Don’t forget, letting go is a skill and letting go requires willpower, practice, and self-awareness and sometimes you have to let go.
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