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Just let it go. How many times have you heard that?
In addition to that, how many times have you “let something go” only for it to resurface months, even years, later during a depressive episode or a moment when you are dwelling on painful moments in the past.
“The knowledge of the past stays with us. To let go is simply to release any images and emotions.” ~ Alan Watts
We as humans tend to remember and hold on to our negative experiences more than we hold on to our positive ones. From a young age, it begins to shape who we are and who we grow to be. The four-year-old who almost drowned will have a hard time as they get older and want to conquer that fear of water. The 18-year-old who had her heart broken by the man she thought to be her soulmate won’t find it easy to love and trust in her future relationships. The businessman who failed previously won’t have the mental fortitude and the positive outlook to try again.
The negative experiences and emotions we once felt, linger and shape the decisions we make, and can hinder us from enjoying living in the now. We can’t live in the now when memories of the past haunt us, which blocks us from entering a flow state and achieving higher levels of vibrational thought.
“Optimism is focusing on not the rain but the fact that it won’t rain forever and the sun will shine once more. Pessimism is not enjoying the sun because you’re constantly watching the clouds anticipating when they will open up and pour once more.” ~ Marcus Tait
This post isn’t to talk about the dangers of holding on to negative thoughts of the past (I believe that’s something we are all aware of), it’s more of an understanding on how to effectively begin the process of letting go. I say begin the process because it is a lengthy, and at times, difficult process that few of us manage to successfully complete without the aid of regular therapy.
But once the process begins, and we do some deep self-reflecting and uncover the trauma and negative experiences from the past, we begin to understand and see why we were unable to make the right decisions at one point in time. However, sometimes the things we need to let go of are not associated with experiences alone, but we are held back by emotions such as guilt, or the failure to act on a thought or idea.
When letting go, you first to need to identify not the cause but the effect of holding on to things you shouldn’t. It’s much easier to unravel a yarn ball than to put one back together. The cause may have multiple different effects and you have to identify each one, tie them together to the source, and understand exactly how it correlates.
For instance, one may have trouble opening up to their partner about sensitive topics, and it’s easy to say, “that’s just how I have always been,” simply because as far as you can remember through your adult or preadult life, you have been unable to divulge any real emotions to anyone and that’s simply “how you are.”
The truth is, no one is born that way but that’s how some people grow up to be. I use this example as it’s a well-known and talked about subject on social media—Toxic Masculinity. Oftentimes, this stems from a time in a young boy’s life where he was told to shut out his emotions and to man up. That pain is internalised and becomes something the boy cannot let go of, and this integrates with his personality and shapes who he becomes as a man. Over time, the cause is forgotten but the effect lingers, and as we become consumed with our day-to-day life and the external things that happen to us, we forget to pay attention to the internal things and fail to heal the cause.
Overcoming and letting go of all things harmful to the mind and body is essential to bringing peace to your mind and allowing you to create the world you see for yourself. Letting go allows you to regulate your emotions and to let go of what doesn’t belong there anymore. It allow you to make peace with, not just yourself, but maybe some of the people around you.
Meditation, daily self-reflection, and therapy (if needed) will make this possible and allow you not to worry about the future based on experiences from the past. This is how we live more presently.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”