Fifteen Ways to Let Go of the Past
Edited by Donna, Eng, Maria Quinney
Why People Hold On To The Past
Everybody encounters some sort of hurt, abandonment or emotional challenge during the course of their life that seems to wound them to their very core. Some people manage to get over things quite quickly and move forward into the future quite easily. Others tend to dwell on the emotional or psychological injury for months or years, allowing it to set them back in life.
Although some people have a genuine disposition towards being depressed there are some others that seem to hold onto the grief, shock, and trauma just for the sake of holding onto it. People who nurture heartbreak from the past tend to do so because it provides them with some kind of emotional or psychological payoff.
Here are the top ways that holding onto the past motivates and even rewards people for staying stuck in it.
- 1Although this attention is often in the form of pity, it is still better than not getting any attention at all. Wallowing in the grief creates dramas and more involvement with others. The person may feel that if they stop broadcasting their problem with the past that they might become lonely.Individuals who hold on to their grief might be using it as a form of negative attention seeking.
- 2If others are the cause of your unhappiness, then you do not have to be personally accountable for why you cannot move forward in life, because everything is their fault and not yours. The rationale here is that you are sometimes too injured by others to move forward and that the world somehow owes you.Holding onto the past allows you to blame your current failures on other people, rather than take personal responsibility for your own life.
- 3If you present a personal setback as disastrous, then it explains to others why you are a failure or broke your promises to them by pursuing a certain path. It allows you to be lazy and blame your lack of personal drive on others.Holding onto the past gives you an excuse not to follow your dreams in life.
- 4Sometimes, the hate and resentment that you are harboring with them are the last vestiges of any emotional connection between the two of you, and if you let that go, then there is no attachment between the two of you at all.Holding onto the past allows you to stay attached or even actively involved in someone's life after you have been rejected.
Many people are reluctant to let thoughts of another from the past go because psychologically it signifies a final goodbye to a person or a situation that you may have really loved.
- 1You may feel that someone has the potential to change or that a situation will turn around if only you can just be patient and hang in there. Subconsciously, you might also feel that if you let the situation go, that it will no longer be in your favor. This type of holding on to the past is particularly common among people who have been abused, as dwelling on the past is the only way they have any control over a situation that was always beyond their control in the first place.You may be holding onto the past because you are hoping that somebody or a situation will change.
- 2Relatives or friends may feel sorry for you because of your inability to cope with the past and actually send you money. They may also perceive you as to sick to work or take care of your physical day-to-day chores for you. You may also receive gifts because others feel sorry for you.Holding onto the past might actually result in a financial pay off for some people.
- 3Anti-depressants and other prescription drugs used to treat depression may be giving you a high that you emotionally connect to being in emotional pain about the past. If you let that pain go, then you will no longer have the need to be prescribed those drugs. You may also fear to have to deal with your feelings and grief about the situation, once you stop taking them.Holding onto the past may be giving you permission, in a subconscious way, to be addicted to prescription drugs.
The Benefits of Letting Go of The Past
The psychological, emotional and personal benefits of letting go of the past may include the following.
- 1The anger and resentment that you were experiencing may have been limiting your choices in life and preventing you from going forward. For instance, you may not have wanted to pursue your career because your ex had an affair with a woman in the same field. Detaching from your feelings about her will allow you to move forward.You will feel lighter psychological and emotionally and experience a new sense of freedom.
- 2When you let the past have power over you, you avoid going to places or parties where you might be triggered by memories of a traumatic situation. You may even avoid going out to celebrations because you fear running into an ex or a rival. When you get rid of this type of aversion, your life is opened up to more possibilities and choices, not only romantically, but often in a career.You will feel like you can go anywhere that you want without fear of running into someone or a situation that hurt you.
- 3You may be less prone to obsessive or negative thinking. You may find those nagging health problems clear up because your depressive lifestyle is no longer affecting how often you eat, exercise or socialize.Letting go of the past sometimes has a positive effect on your physical and psychological health.
- 4Dwelling constantly on the past is very exhausting both mentally and physically and prevent you from following up on more important things in life. Instead of succumbing to a daily depression, which may have you medicating or overeating to deal with your feelings, you will have more energy to pursue those things that will move you forward into a brighter future.You will feel invigorated and like you have more energy.
15 Ways to Let Go Of the Past
- 1Depending on how body you were treated or hurt, your self-esteem might be very low. You may feel so rejected that you might actually despise yourself. This happens when someone thinks they were the cause of a breakup, or not good enough somehow. If you find yourself thinking, "What's the point of trying?" then it is very important for you to sit down and make a hand-written list of everything you are grateful for in your life, as it is these things that you risk losing if you stay stuck in the past.Develop an interest in yourself and your own future.
Tips and Tricks
- There are no rules when it comes to getting over a negative experience, especially a death, but dwelling every day on something for more than six months indicates that you are stuck psychologically in the past
- Group therapy or a psychiatrist can help you in the short-term, but if the purpose of attending the session's keeps you stuck in the past and thinking about it, all of the time, then it may be holding you back