How To Move On, Let Go & Leave Your Past in The Past (Powerful Speech)
How to Let Go of the Past
The urge to cling to the past can be overpowering, especially if a strong pain, trauma, or embarrassment haunts you. Letting go of your past is healthy for you, however, and it is crucial if you want to get the most out of your life. Truly moving forward will mean finding the right attitude and, depending on the situation, accepting yourself and/or forgiving others.
Building a Positive Attitude
Take a step back.In order to face the past and let go of it, you will have to think about it from an objective position. Reflect on your past, and try to narrow down exactly what is holding you back. Common detractors can take several forms:
- Sensual (obsession with or shame about sexual matters or material things, for instance)
- Aversion (pain from the past causes you to avoid a person or opportunity, for example)
- Ill will (wishing harm or trouble upon others)
- Lack of motivation or energy
Shed mistaken beliefs.Deeply-rooted beliefs often motivate our actions and thoughts in powerful ways. When you are having trouble letting go of the past, a conscious or subconscious belief might be the cause. Challenging and changing those beliefs can help you move on.
- For instance, you may have told yourself all your life that you want to reach a certain income level in order to be happy. However, your pursuits might have been holding you back from things you genuinely enjoy, such as hobbies or spending time with your family. Challenge your belief, resolve to spend more time on other areas of life, and reassess how you feel.
- It can be difficult to change deep beliefs, especially when they are informed by powerful influences like culture, family, and religion. Give yourself time to work through your beliefs, and talk to a friend or counselor if you need help.
Accept change.Moving forward in life can be a scary thing. Instead of fearing the unknown, however, accept change as part of life and who you are. Focus on thinking of change as a positive force:
- For instance, if you lose your job, stay positive by thinking of it as an opportunity to find gather new skills and experiences in a different position or career.
Meditate or pray.The strong emotional responses that pain, regret, and other past stressors cause can leave lingering effects in the mind. A calm, balanced mind is an absolute necessity when letting go of the past. Meditation and/or prayer can help put your mind in a more stable and centered place.
- Mindfulness meditation helps one focus on the here and now.Typically, it involves focusing on your breathing as you attempt to clear your mind of distracting thoughts.
- If have or are open to personal faith or a religious belief, prayer can be very beneficial. If you follow a certain practice, you can follow set prayers. Alternatively, you can pray using your own words, silently or out loud.
Write about your past.Journaling and other forms of writing (like a private blog) can be a great way to come to terms with your past and to move forward. Try writing about the things that bother you, have hurt you, or that you think are holding you back. The experience of expressing yourself can be cathartic. Since you are writing only for yourself, you also don’t have to fear what others will think or say, which can build confidence.
Forgive yourself.It can be tempting to hide a painful past and pretend like it does not exist. However, fighting your history in this past will deplete your energy. Instead, start by forgiving yourself rather than judging yourself consciously or subconsciously.
- Try saying something to yourself like: “I know I haven’t lived up to who I want to be because of X. I acknowledge that and want to focus on moving forward.”
- Give yourself time to heal. Instead of telling yourself, “My heart will never heal,” tell yourself, “All pain dulls and passes with time.”
- You may never completely get over some things, such as the loss of a loved one or the pain of betrayal, but as long as you accept the idea that you are allowed to move on, some level of healing can still occur.
Confess.Oftentimes, just getting something off of your chest provides the relief you need to start moving forward. If you have hurt someone, been a victim in some way, done something you regret or are ashamed of, or are grappling with some other sort of pain, talk about it with a trusted friend, counselor, or spiritual advisor.
Apologize.Hurting others can cause one to feel guilty or ashamed. Taking the time to apologize to someone you have hurt acknowledges their pain and provides an opportunity to relieve your own. Be sincere and specific when you apologize to others, and offer to correct the situation.
- For instance, if you have lashed out at your partner, take the time to say something like “I know that I hurt you when I did/said X. It was wrong of me, you did not deserve it, and I am sincerely sorry. How can I make things better?”
Repair damages.Having unfinished business, owing debts, and other kinds of situations can be heavy emotional baggage. If you want to clear your conscience, let go of the past, and move forward, you will have to make amends.
- If you have financial problems caused by lingering debts, unpaid bills, or other issues, seek help from a financial planner. It can be scary or embarrassing to take the first step, but you will feel better once you do.
- If you hurt someone long ago and it is still on your mind, contact the person and attempt to make amends.
- If you want to avoid further confrontation, you may even feel better by anonymously repairing damages. For instance, if you stole money from someone, send it back to them in an unmarked envelope.
Don’t fear failure.No one succeeds at everything all of the time. If your past has created some sort of fear about a certain circumstance or part of life, actively work on confronting that fear and beating it back.
- Remind yourself that even when you have failed, you can learn from the experience and use the knowledge in the future.
Forgive others.It can be very easy to hold onto anger if someone has hurt you in the past. However, there are enormous psychological benefits to forgiving others.
- Specifically telling people that you forgive them can help. If someone has said something cruel to you, try telling that person “I was hurt when you said X, but I want you to know that I’m letting it go because I want to move on. I forgive you.”
Don’t place blame.While saying that a problem is someone else’s fault might seem like an easy way to get rid of it, things don’t work that way. When you place blame on others, you may have a subconscious expectation for them to correct things. It is more effective, however, to acknowledge an issue and focus on moving on.
- For instance, if a partner’s spending habits have created financial troubles, don’t just say “You’ve ruined things!” Instead, try to be more constructive: “We are having financial problems and need to make some changes in our spending habits.”
Let go of grudges.A grudge is a specific type of emotional baggage that can make a past issue really drag you down. If someone has hurt you or done you wrong in the past, don’t focus on retaliating. While you may think it would be very satisfying to see the person get hurt, you will feel better if you move on.
- For instance, if you are angry because you think that a someone took an ex away from you, approach that person and say something like: "I was upset at first, but I want everyone to be happy and move on. I want you to know that I accept your relationship."
Focus on changing yourself, not others.Making changes to get over a past problem is difficult. It is hard enough to change yourself, let alone someone else. If you let others worry about taking care of their own problems, you will have more energy and attention to devote to correcting yours.
Give some space if need be.If you have tried unsuccessfully to repair a past personal relationship that is holding you back, it may help to give yourself some breathing room. Time to reflect can work wonders.
- You might make an agreement with someone to come back to a problem at a later date. For instance, if you are having relationship troubles, you might consider taking a break from one another.
Focus on the present and future.Once you can acknowledge your past, you can start to let go of it. Focus on living your present to the best of your abilities, and think of the future as motivation to press forward.
- Making concrete goals will increase your chances of success. This can mean things like getting a degree, looking for a new job, or practicing and improving your skills in a particular area.
- Make the present something to be involved in. Take up a new hobby or volunteer activity that you find fulfilling, for example.
- Start small. If a major car accident left you feeling anxious about being in a car, start slow by sitting in the car while it's parked for a while. After that, go for a short ride to somewhere nearby. Slowly work your way through in this manner until you feel comfortable remaining in the car for a long drive somewhere.
Shift behavior.If you do things the same way over and over again, it will seem like the past keeps popping up. If you really want to let go of the past and move on, you might have to make some conscious and specific changes to your behavior. Changing the way you do things can be difficult, but if you it is easier if you remind yourself that you are trying to improve a situation. For instance:
- If you keep running into an ex (or reminders of him/her), you can consciously change the places you eat, shop, hang out, etc. A change of scenery can make it easier to let go of the past.
- If you have a problem with spending too much, take a “spending holiday.” Don’t make any non-essential purchases for a certain period (such as a few weeks), and tell yourself you will use the time to focus on using or clearing out the things you already have.
Use regret or loss as fuel for the future.You overcome past misfortunes when you are determined to use them as motivation for future success. If regrets or losses are on your mind, think of ways that you can use them to push you forward:
- Mistakes can be learning experiences. If you fail at a job, you can use the knowledge to do better in the future, or to help decide if a new career is better for you.
- If you have hurt someone you care about, apologize and tell yourself you’ll never let them down again.
- If someone criticizes you, acknowledge that you were hurt, but be determined to improve for yourself rather than to please others.
QuestionWhat if I hurt someone I love, and he continually reminds me of it?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerHave a talk with him. Tell him you've apologized (assuming you have), and that the two of you need to move past this if possible. Let him know how much it is hurting you to have this brought up frequently. Hopefully you can come to some kind of understanding, but if not, it might be necessary for you both to move on.Thanks!
QuestionDo I have to do all of these different things?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, you don't have to do everything mentioned in the article. Just use whatever applies to your situation or whatever you find most helpful.Thanks!
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