“You cannot start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one – Author unknown”
I consider my past as a struggle and the fact that I was able to break free, is something that I have always been proud of. I am a strong believer of the notion that people should find a way to accept their past and be proud of it in order to move onto a better future. But off late, I find myself referring to my past more often than not. When you think about it, how often should you remember or talk about your past? How healthy is it for your current self? Accepting it and being proud of it is one thing, but hanging onto it and constantly recalling it, is a whole different thing.
Most people hold onto events that have been judged to be strongly negative or positive. It could be a past that was too painful or it could be something that brought you tremendous joy/success. Either way, hanging onto that past dominates the present and dictates what’s possible and what’s not. By letting the past dominate over your present, you are limiting yourself. Whether it is a past filled with struggles or one with a lot of success, holding on too tight to your past may not be that beneficial in the long run, says the experts!
The question in your mind, obviously, is what can you do? What is it that you need to do to fall out of love with your past? What can you do to ensure that you have moved on and moved on for good? So here are some tips that I came up with to answer your question.
Confront and Accept your past
When starting your journey into the present and the future, the first thing you have to do is to look back one last time. Yes, you read that right, in order to move on, you need to look back and confront your past – be it your past success or your past struggles! If you find it too traumatic, reach out for help. Talk to a loved one, a mentor, a therapist or anyone you trust, but talk! Do not feel ashamed to open yourself up completely to that person. If you have decided to talk, then do so sincerely! From my experience, it was best to speak to someone who knew nothing about me, that way, I was sure that whatever advice they gave me was unbiased. That’s why I chose to speak to a therapist.
Once you confront your past, next step is to accept it. There is nothing you can do to change the past. What has happened has happened, thinking about it every time is not going to undo or redo it for you. Your pain is not going to wash away just because you keep trying to play it over and over in your mind neither is your success going to repeat just ‘coz you reminisce it at all times! The only thing to do is to acknowledge and accept it as a part of you.
Forget and Forgive
I know, it is easier said than done. People tend to hold onto their fears, resentment, past failures and success because unbeknown to them it gives a kind of orgasmic pleasure. This is hard to break off but not impossible. Start by keeping a tab on yourself. Every time you catch yourself falling into your past, stop yourself! Tell your mind to just ‘Shut up’. Seriously, try it and you will know what I mean. Use something like ‘I am not talking to you now’ or ‘Just keep quiet’ or whatever that you find amusing. But say it out aloud and you will notice that your mind suddenly switches off those thoughts from the past. As you keep doing this, your mind will eventually start to forget everything that you want to push away.
The next thing you need to do is to Forgive – Forgive yourself and anyone else that you hold responsible for your pain. When you forgive yourself you will automatically begin to forgive others. As impossible as this sounds, it can be extremely liberating for you! You will feel as though a heavy weight has been lifted off your chest.
Find Yourself and Start Anew
Finding yourself is no easy task either. You need to do some ‘soul searching’ and also learn to be relaxed at all times. Try activities like Yoga or meditation or swimming, biking or running- whatever relaxes you. It is important to find an activity that you enjoy and be consistent with it.
Write down your feelings, if possible, every day or at least on the days when you feel you are emotionally charged. It would be a good idea to keep a journal or an emotional diary. Write down everything that is on your mind and read it back to yourself. You will be amazed at how much this exercise can help in finding yourself.
Think about what you would like to achieve from your life and set a goal for yourself. Do you have a dream that you would like to fulfill? If yes, then find ways to start working towards realizing that dream. If no, then think about what makes you happy and start working towards achieving that. Some people find happiness in helping others, so join a local charity and do some volunteer work. Others want to achieve something for themselves like love, money, fame etc. whatever it may be, work towards achieving it, but remember to be realistic while setting the goals!
Finally, make a fresh start. Analyze your social circle and spend more time with family and friends who genuinely care about you. Weed out the ones who create a negative impact, burn bridges if you have to! You will be doing your mind a favor with this activity.
Letting go of our past and moving forward is one of the most amazing things we can do for ourselves. When you begin to heal, you start to uncover a whole new person. You will radiate, glow and start feeling fully alive. You will also find yourself surrounded with those that mirror this back.
Remember that these experiences only makes us wiser, stronger and more prepared for whatever is coming our way.
I will leave you now with this amazing video by Actualized.org where he talks about letting go of your past!