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The past is gone. It may have been good. It may have been bad. But, it is gone and it will never come back. We are not doubtful about it. We are sure. The past is gone for good, and it will never come back.
So, does it make sense to let go of it?
Yes, absolutely it does. In order to live our life fully, we need to let go of the past and embrace the present. We don’t know about the future, so we can only plan for it. But, we have a present to live, and we can’t live it completely if we carry the burden of the past in our minds and our hearts.
Here are 10 thoughts on how to deal with the past and let go.
1. The past is dead
The important thing to understand about the past is that it is dead life. Everything that existed in that life, does not matter anymore. No matter how good it was or how bad it was, it is gone for good, and will never return.
If you continue to focus on the past, you would not be able to either focus on the present or plan for the future that would be waiting for you, and you would not be ready. Each day you spend in your past is a day of your life wasted that you would not be able to claim back. Life is always moving, with or without us.
2. Past Mistakes were lessons
You may have made mistakes in your past, which would have caused you or your loved ones a lot of pain. Now, we need to understand that we are constantly evolving human beings and there are events in our life which exist to teach us a lesson about life so that we can move to a higher state of existence. This continues to happen till we are alive.
Now, you made mistakes which resulted in pain and now you feel guilty. You need to understand that you are not a perfect human being, and you are only a student of life and learning as you go. That’s what all of us are doing. We are learning as we go.
Learn the lessons that the past offered and let go. Do not keep feeling guilty about the mistakes because that would only make you emotionally weaker and that’s not the goal. The goal is to find joy again.
3. There are no regrets. Stop regretting the past
The while idea of regret is based on incorrect thinking. Why do you regret?
The origin of the emotion of regret is the assumption that you could have done differently and that you didn’t, which resulted in a less favourable outcome, and hence now there is regret.
Therefore, we draw the conclusion that we could not have taken a different decision. You took a decision that at the moment seemed like in the direction of your happiness. However, things turned out differently than you envisaged and how can you now be held responsible for the knowledge you could only gain through hindsight?
They say that the hindsight is always right and that is true. The hindsight is always right, but at the moment of decision, we always tend to do what we feel would get us the maximum amount of happiness.
Stop regretting your past. You could not have done anything different, because you were a different person yesterday.
4. Even good memories cause pain when they are gone
You need to not just let go of the bad memories, the painful ones, but you also need to let go of the happy memories because they don’t exist anymore. We as human beings, cannot really find meaningful joy in nostalgia.
Nostalgia is a not a great way to find happiness. Think about it. If you are indulging in nostalgia most of the time, it means that your present is not in a happy state and you are over indulging in the joys of your past, which are now gone.
There is a famous Indian poet called Gulzar, and I am fan of him. I attended a session by him at a literature fest. He commented on the nature of nostalgia and it has always remained with me.
He said and I quote, ‘Nostalgia is a lovely place. But, it’s not worth living.’
This means that if you overindulge in nostalgia, you are discounting your current life, and thereby, wasting it.
5. To let go of past trauma, do not focus on it
Tony Robbins said that how you feel is the result of what you focus on. Now, if you want to feel good about yourself, which is the goal, do not focus on things and people that caused you pain.
I know it is difficult. There are incidents which cause us so much pain that they stay in our memories for a long time, perhaps forever.
However, if you keep thinking of things that cause you pain, you would not be able to reach an uplifting state of existence. Why won’t you want to do that? Would you play a bad movie in your mind over and over again? You won’t, and thus it makes sense not to play the traumatic experiences if your life in your mind over and over again. They are gone now. Let yourself heal.
You were just quite unfortunate to have come on their way, and they caused you to undergo a traumatic experience. However, for the sake of your peace and balance, please let go of the past, and forgive those people in your mind.
If they knew better, they wouldn’t be who they were.
6. Do not let the negativity of your past take control of your life
Your past was troublesome and you are through it. However, you need to mentally come out of it too. If you keep going back to your past in your mind, then you haven’t really come out of it. You are still living there.
You need to watch your thoughts, and no matter what, focus on the positive. Even when you look at your past, think about the positive moments. Yes, we said that nostalgia doesn’t help but then our lives are movies in our minds, and we do end up going back, every now and then.
When you travel back, travel only to the positive moments so you feel good about yourself and your life. Even when you travel to the negative places, remember that they probably taught you something.
7. If your past still hurts you, talk it out
If you are hurting, may be you need a patient ear. Talk about your past with someone who is willing to listen and offer you any help. Do that with a friend initially and if that doesn’t help, see a professional, who may be able to offer you some sort of therapy to help you get out of the painful emotional state that your past is bringing you in.
Mental health is as important, if not more important than physical health. If you think seeing a mental health professional would help you, do that by all means.
8. Let go of people who are not a part of your life anymore
It is difficult to let go of someone you loved or cared about but if the relationship is over, holding on to it would only cause you pain. There is no other way to let go of past relationships but by cutting them off.
Give yourself time to accept that the reality has changed and they have moved on. If you loved them, it would hurt, but life is painful and brutal, and all we need to do is accept reality.
It doesn’t help to hold on to past relationships for they are now past, and you still have a life to live. If they had to be with you, they would be with you.
9. Jump completely into the present
One of the best ways to let go of the past is to get so busy with your present that you have no mental space to think about what happened. If you allow yourself time and space, only then you would be able to indulge in past memories, past thoughts, past pains and past happiness.
Get busy in your present. Get busy with your work. Start focusing on your relationship with yourself. If you have entered a new relationship, start working on that.
Life takes a lot of work, and the only way we can truly make something of it, is by giving everything we have to the present moment. No moment how good the past was, or could have been, focusing on it would only result in pain.
10. Change your physical environment
One of the ways to eliminate your past is to get rid of the physical space that reminds you of your past. Move to a different place. Find a new house to live in, get a new job. Do whatever it takes to start afresh with a new physical space, so that your emotions which are attached to the current space do not take you back to your past over and over again.
Thank you for reading.
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I appreciate the time you spent in reading the blog and wish you happiness.
This may help you find peace.