How to Let Go of the Past

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Let go of the past… It takes more than simply telling yourself to just “get over it and move on.”

Feeling stuck in unwanted behavioral patterns or like there’s something keeping you from feeling happy are indicators that you are struggling with something from your past.

Chances are, you’ve tried talking about it. 

You may have even attempted to make a conscious effort to let go of the past. But those dark feelings, the grudges, and resentment…they keep trickling back into your consciousness. The stories constantly replay in the back of your mind. 

You try to move on. You WANT to let the past be the past. 

But it keeps coming back.

Once you understand that it takes more than sheer will to let go of the past, you can start your journey to healing and moving forward.

Why Is Letting Go of the Past So Hard?

First of all, realize having trouble letting go of the past is perfectly normal. We’ve all been hurt, ashamed, degraded, and taken for granted in the past. And we don’t want to experience these things again. 

It’s like our brain is trying to protect us by constantly reminding us of these negative events. And yes, that’s exactly right. Our brains are better at retaining information when strong emotions are attached to them. 

You could probably remember intimate details of the day someone wronged you. Now try to think back a month before the event…what do you remember? 

It might not be much. 

Information charged with emotion makes a lasting impression. 

And, let’s be honest, it’s hard to accept that someone has hurt you. It may make you feel weak or embarrassed. Holding a grudge seems easier…it’s protecting you from being hurt again. 

But holding on to negative emotions is doing more harm than good.

Lingering resentments actually take away from your ability to enjoy the present moment. Allowing the past to haunt you creates a roadblock that bottlenecks personal development with negative emotions.

Stop Ruminating Thoughts…Start Enjoying Life 

Ready to chip away at those negative emotions that are controlling your mindset?

At first, it may seem like an uphill battle. With time, patience, persistence, and practice, however, you’ll realize letting go of the past may be the biggest step to moving forward toward the life you want to live.

Here are some tips to change your focus and stop feeling stuck in life

Commit to Let Go of the Past 

It all starts with intention. Acknowledge how moving on is going to improve your life. Make letting go a “must”. 

Don’t make excuses. Be “all in”. 

Sure, there may be weak moments, but if you hold true to your commitment, dissolving negative emotions gets easier with time. 

Identify What’s Holding You Back 

For some, it’s easy to understand why they are feeling stuck in a cycle of negative emotions. A failed relationship, sudden loss, betrayal of a friend–the list can go on and on.

Others have a harder time figuring out what is keeping them locked in the past. Childhood trauma, for example, can be difficult for one to address on their own. 

Over time, it’s common to grow accustomed to our emotions. And we don’t even realize how they impact us every day. 

If you are feeling stuck and unsure why sometimes it takes the help of a professional therapist or life coach to help you understand how the past is affecting you. 

Sometimes this process can be painful. Extra support from a trained professional can help ease the overwhelming negative emotions that come to the surface.

Neutralize the “Hero” or “Victim” Stories

Ruminating thoughts about the past often cause us to create and recreate narratives of the experience. 

As we continue to revisit these experiences, we often put ourselves in a “hero” or “victim” role depending on what happened.

Unfortunately, these narratives only make it easier to feel stuck. The stories justify why we are holding on to these negative emotions.

Letting go of the past means acknowledging facts without emotional narratives. And once you have the facts straight, use it as a learning experience and move on.  

Practice Forgiveness

When someone has wronged you, it may seem like forgiveness is a sign of weakness.

It’s actually the opposite…

When you forgive someone…you release the power they have over you for a certain circumstance. Depending on what you’ve been through, it may be very hard to forgive someone. 

And that’s okay. It’s a process.

Forgiving someone and moving on is a big step in letting go of the past. But more importantly…

You have to forgive yourself. All too often, we blame ourselves for what’s happened in the past. And sure, we all make mistakes–sometimes they are pretty bad.

Keep in mind that our mistakes aren’t the end of our journey–they are a learning experience along the way. Learn the lessons and move on.

Surround Yourself with Positivity

Have you ever had that friend that complains about everything? You know by the way you feel when you are around them. Within a few minutes of the conversation, you start to feel drained which affects your mood.

When we make the conscious choice to be around others that are uplifting, supportive, and encouraging, it fuels the desire to let go of the past. We begin to see the steps people take to improve their lives and know that we can make similar changes.

Set boundaries with those that focus on negativity. Realize the mindset they choose to embrace doesn’t have to be YOUR mindset. 

Spend more time with positive friends and family. Join support groups. Connect with like-minded people who are actively trying to let go of the past. The insights they share–and that you can share–can be life-changing.

Acknowledge and Appreciate the Present

Another way to stop feeling stuck in the past is by showing gratitude for the present. When we focus on the good things that happen to us every day–however big or small–it begins to shift our focus. Developing the habit of being grateful has us actively searching for the positive experiences we encounter daily.

One way to appreciate the present is by starting a gratitude journal. It doesn’t have to be anything special…just a notebook, small dry-erase board, or even a piece of paper. Towards the end of the day, spend a couple of minutes in quiet introspection. Then write five positive things you experienced today. 

In time, you will notice great things happening during the most mundane days. For example:

  • My coworker told me a joke that had me smiling at different times throughout the day.
  • While stuck in traffic, a little girl in the car next to me smiled and waved.
  • As I took an evening walk, the cool breeze felt so nice on my skin.
  • My husband and I enjoyed a healthy meal that I prepared.
  • When things got stressful today, I took a couple of minutes to take deep breaths and refocus. Then I felt better.

Use Positive Affirmations During Difficult Times

When your laptop or phone glitches, the most effective way to resolve the issue is by resetting them.

Positive affirmations work in much the same way to disrupt the stressful thoughts that lead to negative emotions. They are a way to reset your mind when negative emotions seem to be taking over. By taking deep breaths and repeating positive affirmations, you can reset the habitual thought patterns that make it difficult to let go of the past.

Here are some examples:

  • I am letting go because it is time to grow.
  • I am blessed with a new day. Yesterday’s problems have passed.
  • I accept what has happened. It’s over. Let’s start a new chapter.
  • I am more than my emotions. Emotions pass, I remain.
  • Breathe slowly. Be patient. Move forward.

Find an affirmation that resonates with you and use it…often.

Feeling Stuck? Want an Opportunity to Grow? 

Letting go of the past isn’t always easy. If you’ve read this far, you probably already know that. These tips can be an excellent starting point for you. 

But, like many, you may need a little more help…and that’s okay.

Ready to…

  • Stop running on empty?
  • Set clear boundaries?
  • Communicate through conflict?
  • Release the emotional baggage? 
  • Uncover your desires and get in touch with how you want to live? 

It’s your birthright to live a life that sets your soul on fire with love, joy and freedom. My Shape Your Foundation program is an opportunity to allow yourself the courage, time, and tools to “get right” within. 

The SYF program will empower you with steps to:

  • Turn your past experiences into opportunities for healing and helping others. 
  • Incorporate healthy boundaries and conscious communication in all your relationships.  
  • Disrupt ineffective behavioral and thought patterns so that you can tap into the essence of who you really are and fulfill your potential.
  • Design a process for self-forgiveness and how to forgive others, freeing yourself from the bondage of the past.

Let’s ignite your new path…together. You can experience significant, positive changes in your life within 5 weeks!

Register Here

Content updated. Originally published on 7/1/2021.

Shaping Freedom® With Lisane Basquiat

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