The past… is so deceiving. Everything that ever happened to you, your experiences and acomplishements seem to be an inseparable part of who you are. Many of your behaviour patterns stem from something that you’ve experienced before. And it’s really nothing new – you probably heard of terms like “childhood trauma”, “post-traumatic stress disorder”, “social-anxiety”… A lot of people are experiencing them regularly and it’s a one or another form of reaction to something that happened in the past.
There might be positive things from the past that influence your life as well. You might have achieved beautiful things that gave you courage, or self esteem. You might have amazing memories that keep you happy whenever you think of them – and it’s beautiful!
But what happens if your past was… not really good? How do you keep going if mistakes, accidents and injustices from the past keep haunting you and prevent you from being happy?..
In my own life, I made a few mistakes that created long-term consequences that I still have to deal with, till this day. I also have quite a lot of painful experiences that resulted in phobias, anxieties and insecurities… And yet, I am still going. I guess one can say that I’m going pretty strong.
Today I want to show you how you can let go of anything from the past that keeps impacting your life. I want to tell you how you can hit that ‘restart’ button and start living your life afresh – without resentment, anger or self-beating talks that keep swirling in your head.
Just a quick disclaimer – I am not a therapist. If you experienced a severe trauma, it’s always advisable to get professional help. My thoughts are based on my experience only and I do not claim that they are some kind of magic formula. Nevertheless, they might help you, just like they helped me.
It never hurts to try.
How To Let Go Of The Past And Start Living Your Life Afresh
In order to do that, you must understand a few things.
1) Your Past Is Not Who You Are
The most important thing that helped me to finally let go of the past is understanding that my past does not define me. No matter what happened, you are not your past. You are not your mistakes. You are not your accidents. And even more – you are definitely NOT what other people have done to you, or how they treated you.
You are you. Even if your past was magically wiped out today, you would still be you. Sure, you would lose your so called ‘identity’, but ultimately, there’s more in you than just your past experiences.
The real you – your consciousness or your soul (you can call it however you prefer) can’t be affected by what’s happened. Here’s why.
2) The Past Is Just An Illusion
This might sound tricky, but when you think well, everything that happened in the past is only an illusion now. The past does not exist anymore – only the memories, or collected information (documents, photos) are a form of traces to the past. But you can’t go back to the past, you can’t change it, you can’t touch it, you can only think of it.
If past is only an illusion… Does it really make sense to associate yourself with something that isn’t real anymore? Sure, you might have to deal with the echoes from the past, for example, pay an old debt that was a mistake from your youth. But the fact that you borrowed money without thinking is already a past – an illusion – and thinking about it, ruminating and keeping a negative self talk about it is almost insane.
How To Let Go Of It All
If you want to live your life afresh, start a new book of your life, finally stop being chained by resentment and anger, try to stop identifying yourself with the illusion of the past.
Think about the so called ‘identity’ that you gave yourself by thinking that your past is an inseparable part from you. For example, I used to think that I am a fearful person because my parents were always overly protective. They thought that I am always unsafe. “Be careful”, “don’t do that”, “what if *scary scenario* happens?” were the words I heard all the time. But when I thought about it well, I saw that through the years, I identified myself with my parents being so scared about everything – and I made it a part of me. Once I understood that it is all just an illusion now, and that I am not what my parents thought me to be (unsafe), I felt a relief.
The simplest way to let go of the past is through acceptance. Accept everything that happened, no matter how unpleasant it was, accept that it happened to you but refuse to stay affected by it. Acceptance does not mean that you give up, or that you justify the bad things that happened or that other people have done to you. But it gives you the freedom to decide if you still want those memories to have control over your life.
It’s not something that happens overnight. It will probably take time and some work with yourself but it’s a journey worth to take.
Journaling can be a great help here – simply sitting down, and writing down your thoughts can help you get closer to acceptance. If you experience very strong negative emotions when you do that, I encourage you to talk to a therapist just because it might be easier for you this way.
Journaling about sad things might not feel good at first, or while you do it. But if you write about your feelings and notice that you feel better after that, it will be a sign that your going in the right direction. And then – the sky is the limit. You can let go of anything that does not contribute to your wellbeing now.
If you don’t know how to start, my printable workbooks can be a great guidance for you:
You can live free of the illusion of the past. Good luck.