Let’s face it, we all dwell on the past from time to time and need to remember ways to let go of the past. As we continue on in life and experience it to its fullest, it’s only natural that we sometimes cling onto how things used to be. Maybe you find yourself thinking back on a more carefree time, a past failed relationship, or a time before you experienced a death. The key is to make sure our dwelling on the past doesn't affect our current and future lives. That's why it's important to learn these 7 ways to let go of the past.
1. Remember the Bad as Well as the Good
We tend to remember everything as if it was all sunshine and roses. For example, if you ended a relationship with someone in the past, you may begin to think back and remember all the good things about them and wonder why you broke it off. Thus, one of the best ways to let go of the past is to remember the bad as well as the good. When you were in the moment, you knew there was something you didn't like about them that made it easy to move on, but now that time has passed, you don't remember the bad things about them as much. Remind yourself of why a relationship or friendship was bad and why it was best to end it. Always remember that the past was not perfect, even if that's how you think of it now.
2. Think of the Chain Reaction
You know the saying that when one door closes, another one opens? Well, that is what happens in life when things change. Maybe a parent died, which inevitably caused your family to move to a different town where you met your best friend or future husband. Or perhaps you got let go of a job you loved, which prompted you to start a new career path that you actually are happier in. There's always something good you can find out of the bad if you look hard enough. Every dark cloud has a silver lining, you just have to look for it!
3. Go through Your Facebook Friends
Forgetting the past has become really hard with Facebook. People and relationships that are normally forgotten about are now with us everywhere we go as soon as we accept their friend request. It's even easy to check up on ex-loves with Facebook, even if you're no longer friends on there. Plus if you're friends with any of his friends still, your news feed will still be bombarded with pictures of him that they post. So take a minute and go through your Facebook friends. Anyone who causes you to dwell in the past, either unfriend or block from showing up on your news feed. There's no need to see how your arch-nemesis in high school is doing or what your old boyfriend's roommate is up to if you don't ever talk to them anymore. It's just going to lead you back into thinking of those times in your life.
4. Get Your Life Back on Track
The most common reason most of us look at the past is because our present doesn't seem so great. Did something in your life stop you from finishing school? Start signing up for classes now! Are you regretting a breakup because ever since you've only dated guys who were awful? Start dating different types of guys or join a dating site! Sitting around and thinking about the past isn't going to make you happier. You can't go back and fix mistakes you made, you can only learn from them and do something about it now.
5. Get Creative
Write down your thoughts and feelings about how certain people treated you or what events occurred in your life you wish you could relive or take back. If you're not good with words, but enjoy art, then draw or paint to express yourself instead. It will often make you feel a lot better when you can express your thoughts and feelings about the past through writing and art. It may even get you to realize why you haven't let go of that certain past memory. Writing out everything and re-reading it helps. Sometimes our thoughts get too complex and so mixed up in our minds that it makes more sense to us once it's out on paper.
6. Don't Dwell on "What if"
The most unhealthy thing to think of when remembering the past is, "what if?" The past is over, and thinking about "what if?" is not only exhausting but unhealthy. You will never know if making a different decision or stopping an event that happened to you would have given you a better life or not. You just have to move forward with where you are now and know that everything will eventually work out for the best. If anything, perhaps think of all the bad "what ifs" that may have happened had something turned out differently. Then it will put you in the right mindset that where you are now is the best place you could be.
7. Be Willing to Forgive
Whether it's learning to forgive yourself or others, you won't ever truly be happy unless you learn to forgive things from your past. In certain cases, you may be wishing for revenge or karma to right the wrongs you believe happened to you in the past. However, you are only hurting yourself by thinking this way. When you can finally be happy for someone else who you believed deserved punishment, then you will find that you can be happy with yourself as well. Misery loves company, so when you're miserable, you will wish misery on others. When you're happy however, you will wish happiness on others (you should, at least).
Our pasts will never truly disappear completely from our minds. The past has shaped us into who we all are now and has taught us invaluable lessons that we need to continue on in life. It's a pleasant thing to be able to visit our pasts through memories whenever we want, but it's not a place where we should dwell for too long. Have you ever had a tough time letting go of something in your past? How did you get through it?