4.6
December 5, 2014

Learning to Leave the Past Behind in 7 Steps.

9424-a-girl-jumping-on-the-beach-pv

Sometimes we allow ourselves to remain in the past, as we are so afraid to live in the present.

Every day we remain trapped in the past, countless amazing opportunities pass us by.

Recognising that we are caught in the past is the first step towards freeing ourselves. Usually, the only reason we stay like this is because it feels safe, it is all we have known.

Like a frightened bird in an open cage, frozen with fear, it refuses to acknowledge it can fly whenever it choses to. Similarly we allow ourselves to remain, protected by a fake security, when freedom is a few steps away.

It is so easy to allow unresolved past issues and regrets to impact heavily on the present moment. Wishing we had done things differently, not gotten involved with certain people or frustration and anger surrounding other people’s behaviour towards us can all lead to wallowing in resentment and pain.

If only there was a way to turn back the clock and do things differently.

If we knew then what we know now, everything would work out perfectly.

We could have avoided the trauma, spared ourselves the tears and walked away pain-free to carry on and live a perfectly happy life.

Or so we tell ourselves.

Regardless of whether we pay any attention to it, we are all living in the present right this very moment. Not the past. And not the future.

Learning to live fully present can be one of the most difficult but fulfilling things to master. However, until we do this, all kinds of past issues will cloud our minds.

One of the main reasons we struggle to live in the present moment is that we carry huge amounts of baggage around from past experiences. Once we have been hurt, or something significant has happened, the emotion etches in our minds as a warning to prevent it from happening again in future experiences.

We can find ourselves going over, and over again, certain situations to find some way to make sense of everything in the hope we will not be pained by it once more.

All we are really doing though, is overwhelming our minds with constant negativity and so it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to see things with clarity and put them in perspective.

One of the ways we can combat this is to focus on exactly what is going on in our lives right at this moment. Rationally compare similarities to situations that have hurt us before. When we open our eyes fully, we can see exactly how our lives are and how we are free or can free our selves from perceived danger.

We can then begin to do the work to clear away all the rubbish thoughts, so we can remain with only the good and positive aspects of the situation we are in right now.

Sometimes, we just need to figure out a way to re-programme our thoughts. Repetitive thinking about the same thing will just compound any emotion surrounding it. Give the mind a break, meditate, take a walk. Do whatever it takes to take the mind off the subject. The more we do this, the easier it becomes.

What we often fail to realise is that we are the ones responsible for all of our emotions. No one else has control over them. Yes, other people will be responsible for hurtful actions and insensitive behaviours towards us, however, it is up to us to recognise that how we respond to them is our own decision.

If it is a person in our lives that has hurt us previously, look at how they may have changed, consider all the variables. Is there really a threat that we will be hurt again, or are we just holding on to the pain? If we could potentially be hurt again, as things have not changed, take action to move ourselves away from any imminent danger. Take whatever steps needed, at any time, to protect from those who wish us harm.

When the past has been good and it is a struggle to let go, try not to make the mistake of over-glorifying or over-estimating how things really were. It serves no purpose to cling to happy or sad memories. Accept them for what they were and then let them go.

What ifs, whys and maybes are no use. Not when deliberating the past. Although we can learn from reflection, there comes a time for acceptance. No good will come from constantly picking at painful wounds. Let them heal.

Take off the rose-tints as things were likely not as amazing as how we now imagine, our minds can play tricks. If they were, celebrate and be happy you have experienced some really great times. Know that you will very likely attract far more amazing times now that you have learned more and grown from the experience.

Remember:

“Good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”  ~ Marilyn Monroe

Here are a few ways to overcome the past so that we can fully concentrate on the here and now:

  1. Confront the past—honestly. If it is too traumatic to do alone, find a counsellor or professional that will help. Until we fully open our eyes to the reality of the past and the circumstances surrounding the trauma, we will be unable to ever fully understand it and set it free.
  2. Accept the past—Fully acknowledge that it cannot be changed, we can’t turn back the clock. However much we would like to. What we can change though is how we view it now and how we allow it to still control our daily thoughts and emotions.
  3. Be aware of your thoughts—Whenever you recognise that your mind is wandering, pull it back. It’s just a habit—break it. The less you think about things, the less power the thoughts will have over your. Remember, thoughts lead to emotions, then, the emotions will grow. Don’t allow your energy to be wasted in negative thinking, as before you know it, you will be experiencing pain all stemming from one single thought.
  4. Sever contact and burn bridges—If there are any material things, people or places that are constant reminders, cut them loose, if possible. Let go of any association to the pain that you suffered. There will be triggers and where possible, avoid anything that jolts your memory. At least until you are feeling stronger and more in control of your thoughts and emotions. Don’t hastily remove people from your life that you may live to regret. Think carefully and trust your instinct, know who is good for you and who isn’t. Surround with people who will nourish you, not those who are toxic and harmful.
  5. Forgive yourself—if necessary. Accept that we all make mistakes no one is perfect. Learn and grow from whatever has happened. Take any positives from it that you can and leave the negatives where they belong.
  6. Forgive others—Forgiving others will do you more good than it will do them. Release the anger and pain surrounding whatever has happened in the past. As soon as you learn to let go and forgive, the weight will immediately lift from your shoulders.
  7. Start anew —Take positive steps to remove all the old habits and routines and create a new existence, a happier one, with only healthy and loving thoughts for your self. Take up new hobbies, fill your time so you have no time for idle thoughts about what no longer matters.

As soon as we move away from negativity we instantly open ourselves up to the opportunity of attracting positivity. We attract exactly what we put out. Happiness attracts happiness and true love attracts true love.

Until we move from a place of hurt and anger, we will continually attract more pain and anger into our lives. Forgiving our past and moving forward is one of the most amazing and loving things we can do for ourselves.

When we begin to heal from scars, we start to uncover a new person. Like a snake shedding its skin, we will radiate, glow and feel fully alive. We will also find we surround ourselves with those that mirror this back.

Everything that has happened before is a preparation for what our future holds. It all makes us wiser, stronger and more prepared for whatever is coming our way.

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” ~ Alexander Graham Bell

~

Love elephant and want to go steady?

Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!

 

Author: Alex Myles

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Free Stock Photos

You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

AudreyGeddes Dec 15, 2014 7:15pm

Living in the past is one of the biggest challenges we can face. Thank you for your excellent insights on this! I especially agree with your point on being aware of your thoughts. It is amazing when we pay attention to the negative thoughts that need to be deflected. I also believe in getting by yourself in nature, and have found a wonderful book on this entitled, Reclaiming the Wild Soul: How Earth's Landscapes Restore Us to Wholeness, by Mary Reynolds Thompson. It invites us to reclaim our wild souls and our place in the great community of rivers, forests, peaks, and pastures. You can find the author's website here: http://maryreynoldsthompson.com

Nicole Dec 8, 2014 10:43am

This is amazing and absultely beautiful. The relatabilty is carefully articualted and much appreciated.

Shannon Dec 6, 2014 10:08pm

Again, another article of yours that I love! Perfect timing for some things going on in my life. Thank you! Would love to know about the book you had published and how to get it.

Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.

Alex Myles

Alex Myles is a qualified yoga and Tibetan meditation teacher, Reiki Master, spiritual coach and also the author of An Empath, a newly published book that explains various aspects of existing as a highly sensitive person. The book focuses on managing emotions, energy and relationships, particularly the toxic ones that many empaths are drawn into. Her greatest loves are books, poetry, writing and philosophy. She is a curious, inquisitive, deep thinking, intensely feeling, otherworldly intuitive being who lives for signs, synchronicities and serendipities. Inspired and influenced by Carl Jung, Nikola Tesla, Anaïs Nin and Paulo Coelho, she has a deep yearning to discover many of the answers that seem to have been hidden or forgotten in today’s world. Alex’s bestselling book, An Empath, is on sale now for only $1.99! Connect with her on Facebook and join Alex’s Facebook group for empaths and highly sensitive people.