Everyone has a past. You’ve experienced exciting moments and wonderful memories that you’ll keep with you forever. Yet, you’ve also likely been through situations that were challenging and full of heartache. If aspects of your past were particularly daunting, which is quite common, you may feel guilty about some of the things that you have said or done. In many cases, you will be worried that your past may repeat itself i.e. that you have not moved on. However, if you want to move on, you actually have to make the effort to move on and that means that you have to leave your past behind. I am not suggesting that you do not deal with things when they go wrong but once you have dealt with them, as best you can, you must move on and leave your past behind you. Certain things are always better left in the past. It is merely a matter of how best to do so.
The reality that many do not want to accept is that if you want to leave your past behind you, it is just a choice you have to make. As Tony Robbins put it:
‘Your past does not equal your future; unless you choose to live there.’
You simply cannot not have an effective relationship, with others or with yourself, if you continue to dwell in the past. You must focus on the here and now and on the future you are trying to create. When you leave your past behind and live in the present, you will notice that you experience happier, healthier relationships which bring greater rewards to your life and; your confidence will soar.
Simple steps to leave your past behind
If you are ready to leave your past behind and set yourself free to create the life you really want; the following steps are sure to help you. Put this knowledge to work to actively let go of your past:
1. Avoid trying to deny your past
It’s best to face up to what has transpired. Don’t pretend that something didn’t happen. This doesn’t mean that you have to dwell on it or beat yourself up about it. Just make sure that you learn from the experience and then you can view it for the valuable learning experience that it has been.
I firmly believe that some things are sent to test us and provide us with an opportunity to learn and improve. When you take these opportunities you will not feel the need to deny your past; you will be happy to explain how you benefitted from the experience.
2. Acknowledge your own understanding or lack thereof
Although we sometimes lack understanding about why those around us did what they did or how certain events happened, we tend to use our reasoning skills to determine why things might have happened. This can be a very useful experience but we must never forget that we do not know for certain. In some cases, you can test your opinions and see if you are right. However, in many instances, you simply cannot know for certain e.g. if somebody does not want to tell you why they did something, there is no way for you know for certain as you cannot read their mind.
The important thing here is not to make assumptions. You can spend some time coming up with as many potential reasons as possible. What this demonstrates is that you do not know for certain, so; why choose to accept the most negative reason?
I regularly coach clients before and after events in their lives which have the potential to lead to stress. A lot of the time, they do not know the full story or the reasoning behind any negative experiences that may have occurred or, be about to occur. Yet, they have chosen to believe some negative reasoning.
When I take a few minutes to work through the situation with the client, I am usually able to quickly demonstrate many alternative explanations. By showing them that their negative thinking many not be accurate, the stress soon dissipates and they begin to think clearly again.
3. If you’re unable to gain an understanding, it’s okay
To build on the last point; you may have struggled to make sense of things, but come up empty. Certain things are unable to be explained or understood. The best thing to do here is to choose to accept the reasoning which serves you best and move on. By all means, proceed with caution but do move on.
4. Ask yourself if you’re ready to let go
Sometimes, the reason that you do not leave your past behind and move on is because it serves you as a useful excuse. Maybe you’ve unconsciously used your past to avoid moving forward and going after the life you deserve.
Are you truly ready to let it go and start living a happier, more serene life? If the honest answer is ‘No’ then you need to examine your resistance and deal with it. As stated earlier, it is not about pretending that your past never happened; you need to deal with it so that you can leave your past behind.
5. Your past contributes to who you are today
Recognise that, although some elements of your past may be upsetting, you are who you are because of your childhood, parents, education, and other events from your past. I remember during my school days when I was constantly in trouble; I was always down and wishing I could be somebody other than who I was. I refused to accept authority for the sake of authority. I believed that just because somebody had a title, it didn’t mean that they were automatically right and I was automatically wrong.
However, I eventually learned to communicate more effectively and this enabled me to remain true to what I believed but express myself in a way that caused less fights and friction. Not only have I benefitted from these skills; I make good money teaching these skills to others. I have benefitted greatly from those tough times.
6. Look for the life lessons
Ask yourself what you may have learned from the painful events. Ensure that you make plans to implement what you have learned. Practice gratitude for the lessons learned.
7. Avoid becoming cynical or negative
Avoid thinking things like, “No one will ever love me again,” or “Everything I’m involved in turns out poorly.” When something goes wrong, we tend to adopt catastrophic thinking as if one bad experience means that our whole life is ruined. This is rarely, if ever, the case. No matter what goes wrong, you have the ability and strength to rebuild and get back on track. So, when you find yourself being negative, challenge that negative thinking.
8. Seek support when you need it
If you find yourself clinging to the negativity of your past, you might want to seek professional help to aid you in working through and releasing it. Seeking help and support is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it is a sign of great strength to know that you need to reach out to others for assistance and, to do so.
9. Stage your own personal letting go ceremony
When you’re ready to release the things from your past that weigh you down, have a ceremony to mark the end of your personal pain.
- For example, you could make a list of the past events or situations that have troubled you. Then, you can say aloud, “I’m done hurting from all of these things, and they’re not going to negatively affect my life ever again.” Next, go to a safe place, such as a fire pit, fireplace, or campfire, and set fire to your list. Watch that list burn!
- When it’s gone, say, “I’ve taken power over you. My life without you starts now.”
- Another example of a ceremony to let go is to collect a stone for each of your past hurts. Then, go to a lake or pond and throw each stone into the water, one at a time. You can say something like, “It’s time to let you go. You’ll no longer bring pain or sorrow to me.”
- Designing your own letting-go ceremony can be liberating, so if you have ideas on how to release your old hurts, go for it.
There are many things from your past which can hold you back and damage your self confidence. If you are lacking self confidence, check out Unbreakable Self Confidence.
You can let go of your past if you apply these strategies. It will take some focus and effort, but you have the power to embrace a new beginning. Discover the freedom of leaving your past behind. When you do leave your past behind, you will find that your relationships improve; you become more confident and you achieve better results. If you have been struggling with something from your past; it is not always easy to leave your past behind and move on. It can take time and repeated effort but when you set yourself free from the burden, you will begin to grow and prosper as you truly deserve to. Remember, the past is just a moment in time. You cannot change it, but you can leave it behind and set yourself free from it.