Let Go Of The Past For a Clearer Future


Listen on The Extraordinary Life Podcast 

We’ve all done things or had things happen to us in the past that we’d regret or would rather forget. Life isn’t always easy and can leave us with emotional scars or baggage. It’s up to us to heal the best we can, and thankfully there are many tools to do that. When you hold on to the past, it brings overwhelm and mental clutter into the present as you deal with people and situations around us. Letting go of what hurt you then will help you move forward clearly and openly now. 

Whether the past is holding you back consciously or subconsciously, it’s worth the effort to uncover what it is so you can let it go. Recognizing it is the first step, and there are so many benefits to doing the work to let go of that negativity. Letting go of the past is a positive, kind act for yourself, and the following are just some of the benefits that you’ll experience from doing so. 

Release the Heaviness & Find Compassion

Carrying around the weight of something in the past that has hurt you can be incredibly and emotionally tiring. By forgiving these circumstances and letting go of the hurt caused by these situations, it allows you to strengthen your own psyche. Choosing to let go of a hurtful past situation doesn't mean that you have to mend the relationship with the person that hurt you; rather, you get to focus on letting go of your sadness, anger, and pain.

Choose to focus on becoming a better version of yourself, rather than focusing on the other person. This helps to release resentment you might be holding on to. It also could bring you more understanding. The saying goes that “hurt people hurt people”; if you can recognize that the person who did you harm may have also been hurting, it could open your heart with compassion and find it easier to let the past go.

My Story: How The Past Was Holding Me Back

I'm going to share a personal story because it's been coming up for me lately. I haven't seen my birth father since I was about twelve years old. Before my parents divorced when I was five or six years old, I feel he didn’t prioritize me in his life. Then later when he had visitation (as they called it then), he often didn’t show up when he was supposed to. And although I probably shouldn’t have known it, I was aware he wasn’t paying child support either. 

At the age of twelve, I chose not to have him in my life anymore. I had a stepdad who loved and took care of us all in a way that really mattered, so on the surface level, I didn’t feel that I lacked a father. I’ve never wanted to reunite with my birth father, and still don’t, and I really don’t give him any thought. Yet in the past year while working with a business coach, we uncovered that my experience with my dad could be impacting my business and even my daily life. 

My Subconscious Was Holding Me Back

There are often two issues hiding away in our subconscious mind that impact our decisions in the present. There is the feeling of being unlovable, and the other is being unworthy. These feelings often form before you have a “filter” for your subconscious, before the age of seven or so. 

While talking with my coach, even though I have a service that positively impacts so many people, it could be that I feel uncomfortable selling it or accepting money for it because deep down, I don’t feel worthy of it. To move past this, I need to realize that carrying these feelings around are tiring, and see how it could be affecting my business and relationships. 

My husband fully supports me and our kids in so many ways; yet due to my experiences with my birth father, I may be more sensitive to any hint that my husband isn’t supportive. I may turn little “nothings” into bigger issues as well. 

I’m working on letting go of those emotions, and potentially forgiving the situation with my birth father. Rather than resenting him, I can turn to the gratitude I have for my loving and supportive mom and stepfather, who didn’t think twice about being a dad to my brother and me. 

None of this means I have to mend my relationship with my birth father. But I can let it go. And now, I may even be able to understand that at the time, he was twenty-two and probably very immature. I can also find compassion towards him, and realize that he likely hurt himself deeply and missed out on a relationship with me and my brother. 

Forgive Yourself

When you can let go of the past, you get to forgive yourself as well. It’s incredibly freeing. 

If you’ve been holding onto something, likely, you are somehow blaming yourself for part of it. Similar to finding compassion for those that hurt you, it’s also essential to find compassion for yourself. Relationships are complex, and I doubt if I’m alone in at least partially blaming myself for past mistakes or even traumas, and having regret about those situations. We can’t change what has already happened, but we can change how we act in the present and the future. 

Take Back Control of Your Life

The next aspect of letting go is to stop playing the victim. When we've been hurt or wronged in the past, it was that person's decision. It was their choice. Similarly, if you choose to dwell on it, then that's your choice. To learn how to let go of the past, you have to recognize that if you're holding onto it, you’re keeping yourself in victimhood in the present and the future.

Staying in the victim role allows the person who caused you pain to keep having control of you in some manner. But if you choose to refuse to play the victim of circumstances or anything else, it puts you in the driver's seat and gives you control over your life and your decisions. Once you've realized that you're in control of your life and are refocusing your mind on the present, the next step is to work on your self-esteem.

Rebuild Your Self-Esteem

When you dwell on an adverse event from the past your self-confidence has likely been negatively influenced. To counteract this byproduct of holding onto the past, one thing to do would be to repeat positive affirmations regularly. Doing this replaces negative thoughts with positive ones and helps retrain your mind to see yourself as worthy of success in life.

Stop the Pattern

Holding on to the past can become a negative pattern. To prevent it from happening in the future, be proactive and learn to say what you feel. When you bottle up your emotions, the problems from the past that are making you angry and upset won't simply disappear into thin air, but instead stay inside our brains, taking up valuable mental real estate. 

This results in creating scenarios in our heads because the displeasure with the person that caused us harm in the past was never expressed. And since we don't know what the outcome of the situation would've been if we simply had stated our feelings at that moment, our mind can race with the 'what if' scenarios.

To get out of the habit of playing the “what if” game, force yourself to become more open about exactly what you're feeling when you're feeling it. Not only will this help you relieve your mind of anxious thoughts, but it will also allow you to be less resentful of those situations. 

Reorient the Past

Finally, if you want to let go of the past, you have to reorient your relationship with it. Rather than looking to the past and seeing the negative things that have led to your current situation, seek out the good things that have come from it as well. Remind yourself of the good times you've had in the past and how it positively affects you now; it will help clear out any negativity you’ve been clinging to. 

Letting go of the past is an essential part of clearing your mental clutter so you can move forward with clarity. Holding onto your mistakes or the wrongs that have been done to you will only keep you from realizing your full potential. 


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