Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.– Buddha
For many, the act of letting go of the past can be daunting. It took me a long time to recognize that every day is a gift. I had spent my entire life being angry and bitter with my parents for abandoning me as a child. I wanted them to suffer for leaving me behind but, unfortunately, the person who was suffering most was me.
The Pain of the Past
I battled with low self-esteem and a lack of confidence. Trusting anyone seemed an impossible feat, and I lived in constant fear of forming intimate bonds, haunted by the idea they would leave me too. I held myself prisoner, unable to find forgiveness, unable to let go of the past and move forward.
I couldn’t see that there wasn’t anything I could do or say that could change what happened to me. I couldn’t go back and change the past. I had to accept the cards I had been dealt.
Personal Accountability and Self-Love
Even as painful as it sounded, I couldn’t continue to blame them for every mistake I made. I had to realize was totally responsible for my life and my success. My parent’s mistakes were theirs, and the ones I made were mine. I had to accept that whatever decisions I made were a result of my thinking and doing, and no one else’s.
I had to learn to love myself. I kept blaming my parents’ lack of love for the reason I didn’t love myself. I had to accept that they didn’t love me, but I now had the opportunity to love myself. My lack of self-love was my choice and not theirs.
How to Let Go of the Past
There comes a time in all our lives when we have to make a decision to either move forward and leave the past in the past or remain stuck and allow our past to define who we are. Perhaps you are at this point now?
The good news is that the past is behind you, and you can choose to leave it there. And while you cannot go back and change what happened, you can change how you view things that happened.
In order to let go of your past and make your future successful you must be willing to:
1. Resolve past issues.
You must be willing to leave the past behind and confront the challenges that you haven’t resolved. You must understand what happened, why you did what you did, and learn from those experiences so as never to let them happen again. You must be willing to relive the past for a brief moment in order to be able to go past it. Even though difficult, sometimes in order to move forward you have to go back.
2. Accept your mistakes.
You must be willing to accept that yes, you made mistakes. You also must be willing to accept that many of the decisions you made were not wise ones, and unfortunately, others were simply out of your control.
You must be willing to forgive those who have hurt you and caused you pain. Most importantly you must be willing to forgive yourself. It is easier to forgive others than it is to forgive yourself. You must also realize when you forgive you are giving yourself a chance to be free.
Take some time to grieve. These could be lost relationships or opportunities, grieve for them and move on. You cannot go back and change anything so put them to rest.
5. Regain your confidence.
You must now start rebuilding your confidence. You need to start feeling good about yourself again. It is unfortunate but many times your past mistakes will cause you to lose yourself. It will take time but work on building your confidence.
Find the things you like about yourself and keep reminding yourself daily how truly unique you are. Use kind words to describe yourself. Call yourself awesome, beautiful, smart, and kind just to mention a few. Say them until you start believing.
6. Rid yourself of toxic people.
Remove all the toxic people from your life, and that includes close friends and family members. Anybody that doesn’t have anything good to say to you or those that are constantly reminding you of past mistakes, get rid of them. Replace them with persons who are positive, respectful, and who will help you to become a better person.
7. Free Yourself.
You need to acknowledge that you are not your past or your mistakes. You need to learn how to separate your actions from who you are. Embrace new thought patterns, and even though you will still have to deal with remnants of your past you must not dwell on them. Refuse to remain in a negative place. Think positive thoughts and every time something negative raises its ugly head replace it with positive things. You must no longer be controlled by your past.
8. Plan a positive future.
I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.– Thomas Jefferson
You now must plan and prepare for the future. A future filled with positivity and success. Although you cannot predict the future, you can make sure that the new person you are now is strong and healthy enough to deal with the struggles that will confront you going forward. Now that you have confronted the challenges of your past you will be better able to deal with the future.
9. Be patient.
It will take time for you to heal but if you keep working at it soon you will be strengthened, happy, and on your way to achieving your dreams. Do not make decisions hastily even though you may want to make up for lost time. Aim to do things differently now. You do not want to rush into things that could trigger past behaviors. Take the time to get things right this time.
Letting go of the past is never easy but once you have made up your mind to change, you will find it gets easier the more you do it. Remember, you can start over anytime. There is no time limit on when and how often you can start over.