You probably have a lot of good memories you cherish, but there are also things in the past that should stay in the past. Sometimes we can have trouble moving forward. Here are some ideas to free yourself from a painful past.
- Focus on the now
There’s a reason why the past is called the “past.” It means there’s no going back. You can’t turn back the clock no matter how bad you want it. It’s just impossible. If you want to free yourself from the past, then you’ve got to put everything behind you and focus on what you have in your life right this very moment.
When I was quite young, I read a Dale Carnegie book – I don’t remember which one – and he talked about living in “day tight compartments.” He said each day presented sufficient challenges and if we could just stay focused on the day, we would decrease worry and increase happiness.
I learned to do that! Sometime I am so focused on the moment and the day that I don’t think far enough ahead! But it has served me well to worry less and enjoy today as much as possible.
- Make new memories
Sometimes the best way to go about replacing bad memories is by making new ones. Think of something that will truly be memorable for you, something that will make you smile many years from now.
Take holidays for example. I used to be too fixated on how they used to be. I spent too much energy on trying to do things the way they were done when I was a kid.
I slowly learned that creating new memories was so much more rewarding!
- Try something new
Exploring new territories and new experiences will certainly help you focus on the ‘now.’ When you’re doing something new, and you’re still learning the ropes, you often have to be aware of what you’re doing so you don’t do something foolish (this is especially important if you’re doing something risky).
Going to a new group or taking a new class can seem awkward. You worry you’ll feel out of place. Instead, try going with an open mind and a spirit of expectancy – what can I learn here, what new experience can I have?
- Learn to forgive
Forgiveness is often key to letting go of a hurtful past. Some may say ‘forgive and forget,’ but forgetting isn’t always helpful. Let your bad experience teach you. Remembering the bad things that happened in the past can help you avoid similar situations in the future.
You can and should forgive, but that doesn’t mean you should forget. Remembering how you were hurt, with forgiveness, will help you avoid being hurt in the future.
- Express yourself
Bottling up your negative emotions can be harmful. So, it’s best if you can express yourself in a manner that will help you ‘exorcise’ your demons. Write about it in a journal, write a song about it, paint your emotions, or whatever works for you! You’ll feel much better after.
There are support groups available for just about any malady. This can be a good place to deal with negative emotions. Of course, there is nothing like some good therapy to really help you deal with things. If you need it – get it.
- Just let it go
Sometimes, there’s really no point in rehashing things that have happened a long time ago. You have to make a conscious decision to let go and finally put a stop to your self-pity or self-hate or whatever negative emotion your past brings out in you.
Like you, I have had many bad things happen in my life. I have determined, however, to be grateful for them – to appreciate the lessons they have taught me, to acknowledge how they have grown my heart and my mind, and to have a greater appreciation for all the good things that have happened in my life as well.
What about you? Are you dealing with a hurtful past? What are some ways you can move forward with greater happiness and peace?