Want a Positive Future? Let go of the Past

letting go of the past


Much of our past makes us the person we are today and that past is often less than perfect. It stands to reason that whilst we can’t change our personal history it doesn’t mean that is has to dictate our future. We can’t ignore the past, or pretend it hasn’t happened, but we can learn to leave its influence behind. In so doing we give ourselves permission to change and move on.

Our memories may feel very real but our past does not physically exist. We only get there in our minds and this is an important step to acknowledge because of the benefits it brings. There is a part of us, call it our true essence if you like, that is not dictated by our oldest or latest stories. Letting the past go opens the doorway to meeting that inner you. Letting the past go means opening our minds to the possibility that we can change the way we view life and leave all limitations behind. Our past certainly influences the present but it does not affect it. By letting go of the past that exists in our consciousness, we alter its connection to the present reality. Our current reality is influenced by your thoughts of the past, so by changing the way we think about what happened, we can tap into an alternate past timeline.

Why Does Our Past Have Such a Hold?

Influential memories don’t just disappear and as we are hardwired towards spotting potential dangers the more negative memories remain. All those negative beliefs about ourselves such as, “I am inadequate,” “I cannot trust anyone,” or “it’s not okay to show emotions.” These negative beliefs affect our ability to sustain a healthy sense of self-esteem or may influence our ability to maintain intimate relationships. Moreover, these negative opinions do not, of themselves diminish. Memories of childhood trauma can extend their adverse influence for decade after decade.


In this world, we are bound to face a multitude of unjust actions that can internally harm us, if we remain in our conscious mind with them. Unjust gets its power from our response in the form of pain. We can create mental galleries of unfair events, and if we focus our mind on them what results is bitterness and unhappiness. When unjust has cumulated, we are in danger of entering into a cycle of negativity in our thoughts; a bitter bread. So let go. Allow mental space for the present to come, and understand that we exist in the present, away from those actions of unjust, so we move forward rather than being trapped by a past we’re unable to influence or change. Gaining self-control to move on is essential to recognise and accept the fact that the past really is the past. Once we accept this and exercise our choice to let it go, and view it for what is was  (a learning/developmental experience) a sense of relief follows. Yes, the past may have helped to shape what we have become, but it doesn’t have to define our present or future.

How to Move Forward

Letting go of the past is certainly important if that past is dragging you back. Moving forwards requires other ways of thinking and behaving. Here are a few ideas that might help the process along:

1. It’s alright to make mistakes.

Your past may suggest that making mistakes results in all manner of bad outcomes, most of which affect you personally. We all make mistakes, so the way forward is to reframe the way we interpret them. Acknowledging your mistakes, and keeping them in perspective just makes you human. Remember, worry is the illusion of control.

2. Forgive yourself.

The Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung, once famously stated: [bctt tweet=”I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” username=”JerryKennard”]

Accumulated bitter, fearful and resentful memories have a tendency to hold us back. Forgiveness in this context may seem an odd thing to suggest but the aim here isn’t to pretend the past hasn’t happened it’s to give ourselves permission to move on

3. Don’t blame others.

This isn’t to say that other people haven’t been cruel or unjust, but blaming others places you in the category of victim. No amount of rumination, replaying of scenario’s or wishful thinking will change what has already happened. That other person may have hurt you but they are not responsible for your happiness. That comes down to you.

4. Let it out.

It’s possible that talking about the past will help you to feel a little better but there are other ways that may be more satisfying. Grab a pen and some paper. Take as long as you like to get the words down in and order and in a way you find really represents how you feel. Putting things into words like this is more powerful than you might think. Once you’re satisfied it’s time for one more act of symbolism. Tear it up, burn it, do what you like with it, but let it go.

5. Look to the future.

We can’t allow the past to dictate our future. As much as we are influenced and shaped by our personal histories our futures are unknown. If we allow ourselves opportunities to let new experiences in and not be frightened to experiment then we offer up an opportunity to lay down new and possibly more powerful memories.

See also:

Letting go of sentimental items
The art of letting things go
How I got unstuck by leaving my job

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