How to let go of the past and the pain

Giving yourself permission to let go of the past is an important first step to moving on.  By committing to this release, your mind can focus on more positive and productive areas. That release comes in the form of telling yourself to let go.

You don’t need to look far to read advice about why you should let go of the past. However, it’s more important to know how to do it. Most people do eventually come to grips with why, only they may get stuck on taking the steps to make it happen effectively. We’re unpacking some things to consider that may make things a little easier and we start with some general tips:

Learn from past experiences

There are learning nuggets contained within your past. Anything you have done or tried before is up for grabs in the University of your past. It’s up to you to recognize what those lessons are and how to use them effectively. The way to use them is to determine why they happened and how to avoid them in the future.

Consider learning meditation

When you are relaxed, you will have an easier time easing the grip on your past. One of the best forms of relaxation is meditation. It takes several sessions to get your body and mind in tune with the techniques. Don’t expect fast solutions with this. The key is to keep doing it until you feel the effects.

Don’t hide from your past

People try to pretend certain aspects of their past did not happen, especially the more embarrassing moments. However, suppressing such events may cause them to come back to you with a vengeance since they are bottling up. Acknowledge everything about your past but commit to pushing forward.

Keep a journal of your experiences

Be as detailed as possible so you can refer to the journal when faced with similar circumstances in the future. Don’t treat your journal as a bible, however. Just use the journal as a guideline.

Don’t expect all changes to occur immediately

Your past habits may be difficult to break. Therefore, don’t try to change everything in one shot. Give it time. It took a long time to develop those bad habits.

If you are too hard on yourself about your past, stop. It’s okay to acknowledge that you made some mistakes but don’t get overly critical of them.

Remember the good aspects of your past

Sometimes, you may focus on your mistakes and mask the fact that you had some wonderful experiences in the past as well. These are equally important.

Learning from Past Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. Too often, however, people dwell on those mistakes and the past. They relive the experiences over and over to the point where they obsess about them. That makes it difficult to move on with their lives.

You may have some experiences in the past where you embarrassed yourself. If so, keep in mind that celebrities and politicians embarrass themselves all the time. They still manage to continue with their lives, however.

For celebrities, it may seem as though they come out ahead whenever there is controversy, i.e., the situations give them the exposure they so desire. The average person doesn’t have this luxury. However, their experiences show that people have short memories, overall. If this were not true, they wouldn’t be able to overcome the controversial situations.

The only true mistake is not learning from the ones you make. There is always a lesson to be learned when you make a mistake. People love to use the phrase, make lemonade from lemons. That’s a great saying to remember whenever you make a mistake.

It’s true that you can’t change the past. You know that deep down. But, if you are still dwelling on your past experiences, try to write down what happened. The act of writing them down can help you determine what to learn and how to avoid them in the future. Armed with that knowledge, you can move on and start to forget about them.

If your mistakes involve others and you wronged them, this is going to be a bit more delicate. You may need to apologize for what you have done and offer to make the situation somehow right. There is no guarantee they will accept your apology or your solution. However, there is only so much you can do. If you are genuinely sorry and they can’t accept what you did, you simply need to focus on your life. Give it some time and see if you can approach them again in the future.

If you know of people, who have made similar mistakes as you, reach out to them and ask how they handled their mistakes. Also, ask how they overcame them and moved on. These people will be willing to listen and will understand your situation better than anyone else. They may even have resources they can point you to depending on the circumstances. If nothing else, they can be there for you whenever you need to talk.

Forgive and Forget 

You have heard all your life to forgive and forget. It helps you to move on with your life as well as keeps friends you may have lost. However, it isn’t always an easy policy. The memories tend to stick even if you say you will forget. It would be great if we could erase these bad memories of what people have done, but that just isn’t possible.

You may be willing to forgive, but find it hard to forget. If this is the case, then concentrate on the forgiveness. Time needs to pass before you can get to the point of forgetting or at least, making the issue less important in your mind. Forgiving may be enough to get you to move on with your life.

When you do forgive someone, make sure you don’t bring up the issue over and over again. If you do, then you haven’t truly forgiven the other person. If you can’t forgive, then be honest. Express your need for more time. Tell them you are willing to explore it again sometime in the future.

Some people may not be worth the trouble of forgiving and forgetting. If someone you know is not dependable and never was, they are going to continue to let you down. So why go through the trouble of forgiving them, let alone forgetting? You may even still choose to associate with the person but without trusting what they will do. However, this can be emotionally draining for you, and it may be best to sever all ties.

Above all, be honest with people. Don’t fake forgiveness and then go around talking behind that person’s back. You then lower yourself to their level. If you are hurting because of their actions, and they are asking for forgiveness, be sincere about how you proceed. You may hurt someone’s feelings by stating that you don’t forgive them. But, you will do far worse if you pretend that you have when you haven’t.

Although you may never forget, you will get to the point where it is no longer worth your trouble to worry. It takes energy to focus on the past. Why drain that power when you can put it to great use in more positive ways? You’ll feel better, and everyone around you will feel better. The person you are trying to forgive will also benefit.

In the Living Years

You may remember the song by Mike and the Mechanics called, In the Living Years, released in 1988. It was a beautiful song often played on radio stations at the time. Some would say it became overplayed. But, this is what usually happens with beautiful songs.

The message of the song is that if we wait until people die, we won’t be able to tell them what they mean to us and that we love them. Also, the chorus mentions about admitting to not seeing eye to eye. We can only do this when we are alive. The song seems directed at parent/adult children relationships. However, it’s appropriate for anyone who you are or have been close with, including family and friends.

By holding onto the past and carrying grudges, you risk not being able to try to make things right while you both are still living. You always think you have tomorrow to do it. However, one day you find that the other person is no longer with you. Life truly is as short as people say it is.

What many people find when they talk things out, is they can’t remember what got them upset in the first place. It becomes trivial. Think about a time when you and a family member or friend put aside your differences. You may have gotten a good laugh about how it all came to be. That often happens in these types of situations.

Our family is all we have in the world. Even as friends come and go, we need the support of our families. While work and community obligations are important, try to make time to see your family as often as you can. That’s obviously tougher when families are apart due to their physical location. But, even families who are geographically close to each other often don’t visit as much as they should.

When you do get together, and you don’t tend to see eye-to-eye with certain members of your family, try to keep the conversations away from sensitive areas. For instance, if you have differences of opinion regarding politics, try talking sports instead. If you get onto sensitive subjects, try to keep the conversations respectful. Consider all views and keep an open mind. The phrase, “agree to disagree” is a great one to diffuse these volatile situations.

If pride is getting in the way of speaking with a family member, try to cast it aside. It could be just the right instance to get something wonderful going once again.

Moving on After the Passing of a Loved One

It’s inevitable that everyone is going to die. The normal progression is that our grandparents will pass, followed by our parents several years later. That is never something we want to deal with, but it is something we eventually will.

You are close to the person who passed away, and it is going to be a big adjustment. You are no longer available to call them when something wonderful happens in your life. They won’t be at family gatherings anymore, being the life of the party that everyone loved.

If you are struggling with the loss of a loved one, you will never truly get over it. It is very frustrating when people say it’s going to get better. However, your loved ones want you to get on with your life. Think about the fond memories you had with them. Tell stories to your kids or other family members to keep their memories alive.

Do take the time to grieve. Some people try to put up a wall, pretending they aren’t affected by the absence of their loved ones. That’s a mistake, and the grief will build up within you. It’s natural to feel sad and lonely. It’s also natural to ponder about your mortality, especially when the person who is gone is a parent. After all, if you are only 25 years younger than your parent, and you project that your parent lived the average life of people in your family, then it doesn’t take much to see that your time has become somewhat limited.

That isn’t something new. Everyone is aware that the time in this world is limited. It just puts it into perspective when you lose a parent. You should use it to live the best life you can in the time you do have left. 

While you never get over when someone you love dies, you do know the sun will rise and set every day. Continue to be great parents to your kids and spend as much time with the people who are still here. Those times will be the ones that you cherish the most. And when your time finally does come, you will know that you did the best you could, and you will want others to continue on their journeys.

See also:

How to die happily
100 ways to promote your personal growth
Self belief is not a straight line

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