Last Updated on August 29, 2022 by Angela Vaz
Do you find it difficult to let go of the past?
As human beings, we all go through experiences that hurt us along the way. However, some experiences are so painful, they stick with us for a long time.
And no matter how hard we try, we keep replaying those incidents in our minds.
Whether it’s a failed relationship, a massive regret, a lost opportunity, a grudge against someone who betrayed you, you need to let go.
Please note, that I’m not asking you to do this because I believe it’s the right thing to do. It is, but that’s not the main point.
The point is, you need to let go so that you can make room for what matters – happiness, love, and peace.
You cannot be happy or live a content life unless you let go of all these negative feelings that are eating at your heart and mind.
I’ve tried. And it didn’t work.
It’s very easy to blame others for our misery. But happiness is almost always a choice.
Your life is in your hands. Bad things happen.
But bad things happen to everybody.
It’s up to us to decide how we react and what we should do about it.
It’s your life. And by letting go, you are taking control of your life and making room for happiness.
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What are the benefits of letting go of the past?
Before I get into the methods of actually letting go, I want you to know how your life will change for the better once you do let go of the past.
1. You will start living in the present
When I divorced my ex-husband after I discovered that he’d been cheating on me, I spent hours, days, and weeks going through every possible scenario of the past.
I could not let go.
I couldn’t give my family (which included my parents and my two lovable dogs) my time because I became obsessed with the past.
It can feel incredibly hard to let go, but if you don’t, you will forever be stuck in the past.
You won’t be able to enjoy the present, focus on the people who do love you, or welcome new opportunities if you’re stuck grieving or getting angry about the past.
No matter how hard it is, you need to let it go so that you can be mentally present.
2. You will learn from the past and see it as a blessing
I’m so grateful to have found out sooner than later and to be able to walk away from that negativity while keeping everyone close to me safe.
I learned so many lessons and I have learned how to become more kind and loving.
Every horrible experience or memory will teach you something.
It can be really hard to see it, but you must focus on the positive instead of the negative.
It is the only way to see the light.
3. You will learn to love yourself more
If you don’t love yourself, you will say “yes” to all the wrong things. I spent a lot of my life trying to say yes to:
- jobs that didn’t make me feel happy and satiated
- an unhealthy lifestyle that made me feel lethargic and moody
- people who didn’t respect me because I was worried about they’d think of me
Every experience that leaves a mark on you will teach you to put yourself first. If you don’t love yourself and take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of the people you love or be your best.
4. You will be free to do what you want
Whether you’ve healed from a past relationship or quit your job, you can look forward to new and bright opportunities that await you.
You’ve grown as a person and as an individual. You’re much farther today than you were yesterday.
The future is now a blank slate.
And you get to decide how to paint it.
So, be bold and confident and look forward to something that is a better fit for you.
Now that you know how much your life will change if you let go of the past, let’s dive into how you can achieve this!
Letting go of the past: 9 easy steps to help you release your past and move forward
1. Pat yourself on the back for making the decision to let go
You’ve come a long way and making the decision to let go is not easy.
So, pride yourself on the fact that you’ve decided to take the first step to improve your life.
You are putting yourself first. And you’ve decided to love yourself.
Now that you’ve decided to let go and move on, you have to stay committed to this process.
The best way to do this? Understand why you want to let go. Visualize how you will feel once you let go. Remember all the pros of letting go and moving forward.
This is what will keep you going.
It’s not going to be easy, but it’s definitely possible.
2. It’s okay to feel the way you feel
If anyone has told you to stop feeling depressed or to stop hurting, it’s bad advice. I want you to feel your pain. Take some time to validate your thoughts and feelings.
If you don’t, it’s going to become suppressed.
So, give yourself time to acknowledge your feelings. You’re not wrong.
If your business partner has cheated you, it’s okay to feel angry and betrayed.
If you’ve just lost someone close to you, it’s okay to feel empty and sad.
If you’re thinking about how you reacted to an event, it’s okay to feel pangs of regret and foolishness.
3. Vent it out in a positive manner
Let it out.
You can either talk to someone you really trust or speak to a therapist.
The idea is to let it out. Vent out your frustrations, your pain, your feelings to someone.
If talking about it to another human being makes you uncomfortable, write it in a journal.
I finished a whole notebook in 2 weeks when I was doing this, and I felt so much better.
I even went the extra mile and purchased Letters to My Future Self and wrote a letter for each future Christmas.
It’s a beautiful feeling to read a letter from your younger self and see how far you’ve come.
4. Understand that this is temporary
Things can feel bleak right now, but it’s okay. It’s not permanent.
No matter how bad you think this is, it will feel a lot smaller and insignificant one year from now.
Your feelings are raw and at their peak.
Know for sure that it’s going to get better and you’re going to make it.
It’s going to take some time, but this is not the end of the world.
5. Don’t expect an apology
For people who require closure on everything (including me), this can be a very tough fact to come to terms with.
Not everybody who’s wronged you is going to apologize or pay for it.
I do believe in karma, but I certainly don’t expect it to happen immediately or know about it when it does happen. I don’t wish bad on anyone either.
You need to understand that not everything works out the way you want it to.
Your closest friend may have gossiped about you to your worst enemy.
Someone may have blamed you for something that you never did.
Sometimes, life is unfair.
And expecting an apology won’t do you any good.
If it happens, accept it gracefully and move on. You don’t need to become best friends. Just accept the apology, not for her/him – but for you.
Remember, you come first.
In order to move past this hurting, you need to let go of any grievances you have. You’re doing this for you.
Not for them.
Again, you aren’t doing this because it’s only the right thing to do.
You’re doing this because holding onto a grudge is hurting nobody but you.
Your ex isn’t losing sleep at night because he cheated on you.
Your boss isn’t stressing over having fired you.
Your grandfather is no longer sad or in pain because he’s moved to a better place.
Your pain is currently self-inflicted.
And the only way to move on is to forgive.
Forgive the person who hurt you. And most importantly, forgive yourself.
If you made a mistake, it’s in the past. Learn from it, and move on.
I was really afraid of walking alone because everything suddenly becomes quiet. And when it’s quiet, my mind starts replaying incidents from the past.
I knew that this was my one weakness, so I started doing a little heavier exercise like jogging or lifting weights.
At the beginning of a workout, you’ll sweat and feel tired. But once you push past that initial resistance, you’ll start feeling energized and happy.
This is your endorphins kicking in. And it’s a beautiful thing.
This time also made me realize the importance of being healthy and fit. My stamina increased and I started enjoying not feeling sluggish or lethargic in the afternoons.
I could spend more time with my pups and I was able to boost my energy and mood overall.
8. Start working something that you’re passionate about
My blog Stray Curls is my true passion and joy.
Because I get to draw, write and create every single day.
And I help women from all over the globe start online businesses that not only make money but also give them a life of meaning and purpose.
So, I started working.
For me, work is a pleasure.
I dedicated more time to reading business books, writing ebooks and I also created a full-fledged online video course in 2020.
Helping others with my skills made me feel better.
The pandemic definitely helped me focus a lot better but all in all, my focusing on my passion got me out of my self-pity bubble and improve my life.
Take up a hobby that you enjoy or start a new one.
There was a point in time when I loved crocheting. These little activities will do wonders for your mind and soul.
If you’ve never pursued a hobby before or want to learn a new one, I highly recommend joining Domestika.
I recommend it only because it has really helped me become a better artist. I find myself taking classes on anatomy, coloring, and gif making and it’s so rejuvenating.
9. Spend time with people you love
If you cannot be with them physically, then do a video call. If you and your loved ones have busy schedules, leave voice notes.
Just showing the people you love, that you really care about can make a world of a difference to them and you.
My cousin and I have never been close because we grew up on opposite sides of the globe.
But the pandemic brought us closer. We leave each other long voice notes on what’s happening with our lives, new books that we’re reading and just giving overall life advice.
I love waking up to her voice notes.
I have been doing the same with my friends.
It’s a warm and beautiful feeling to know that somebody cares about you.
All in all, once you learn to let go of the past, you will feel lighter and happier.
Everyone has problems and everyone goes through pain. But it’s how we deal with that pain that truly defines who we are.
Letting go of the past is not easy, and it’s definitely not a 1-day feat. But if you adopt these steps and practice each day, you will definitely feel your heart get lighter and happier.
And this will help you finally move forward.
So, don’t be too hard on yourself. Take it one day at a time. Be kind to yourself and remember to love yourself.
Here are a few more posts that you might enjoy:
- 12 genuine reasons to let go of a friend and how to do that
- 13 signs of unrequited love and how to let go
- How to move on from a breakup when you really loved your ex
- How to be happy alone and not feel lonely
- 17 signs you’re healing from a breakup
- The ultimate guide to loving yourself as a single woman
- Why does no one understand you? + What to do about it
- 9 reasons why friends come and go
- Struggling with singleness? Read this now
- The dating advice for single women I followed