How Letting Go of the Past Changed My Life for the Better

letting go

 “Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha

It took me a long time to recognize that every day is a gift.  I 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.

I lacked self-esteem and confidence.  I couldn’t trust anyone and I lived in fear of ever forming an intimate bond with anyone for the fear they would leave me as well. I held myself hostage because I refuse to forgive them and to move on.

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, even though, I wish I could many times.  I had to accept that, that was the card I was dealt.

Even as painful as it sounded, I couldn’t continue to blame them for every mistake I made.  I had to realize that I am 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 was as 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 choosing and not theirs.

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.  You may be at that point in your life right now, and you must make a decision.

The good news is that the past is behind you, and you can choose to leave it there and move into the future with renewed zeal and determination.  You can choose to remain in your present state, where you are stuck, miserable, frustrated, ashamed and depressed.  Remember that you have the rest of your life to make things right but you must take a step.  You cannot go back and change the past physically, but you can change how you view things that happened then.

In order to let go of your past and make your future successful you must be willing to:

Resolve past issues.

You must be willing to leave the past behind and so confront the challenges that you haven’t resolved.  You must understand what happened, why you did what you did and learned 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 be able to go past it.  Even though difficult, sometimes in order to move forward you have to go back.

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”- John F. Kennedy

Accept your mistakes.

You must be willing to accept that yes, you made mistakes, you are human, all of us do.  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.

Forgive.

You must be willing to forgive those that 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.

Grieve.

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.

“The first recipe for happiness is: avoid too lengthy meditation on the past.”

– Andre Maurois

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.

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.

Free Yourself.

You need to acknowledge that you are not you 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.

Plan a positive future.

You now must plan and prepare for the future. The 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 future.

“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” – Thomas Jefferson

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.

Remember, letting go is never easy but once you have made up your mind to change, you will find it gets easier the more you do it.  Also, remember you can start over anytime.  There is no time limit on when and how often you can start over

“We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.” – George Bernard Shaw

You must never forget to believe in yourself, never accept the negative things people say or do to you.  Everything you have lost you can regain if you want to.  Make the effort to be happy and to be grateful for life, your family, friends and second chances.

Photo by Lauren McKinnon

letting go

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23 thoughts on “How Letting Go of the Past Changed My Life for the Better”

  1. Good advice here! I am a big fan of resolving your past and reliving the past. It’s best to do this with a therapist or trained group facilitator. Fortunately, I was able to gain a better attitude towards my father that way. With role modeling, I was at a preverbal age, and crying, while my dad gave me no attention. I had my role dad act this out differently by comforting me with a hug. Perhaps because of the altered breathing while crying, I entered a slightly altered state and was more willing to accept my father.

    1. Don thanks for sharing. I understand quite well how hard it can be. It took me a long time to actually accept that I needed help. It wasn’t until I decided to make change was I able to move on with my life. It is also very good that you accept your father after all the pain because you were scared. it is also great that you share your experience because it will help others as it has helped me. Thanks very much.

  2. This is great advice, very well written and organized with thoughtful points. Thank you for sharing your story. “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” ~Attributed to Carl Bard.

    1. Chas, thank you so very much. You are absolutely right. None of us can go back and make those changes but we do control out future. We also do not have to allow our past to ruin the beautiful future we have in store. Everyday is a new day to start over and to make the changes to make our lives better.

  3. Good advice, I have decided to remain bitter and angry. I can’t resolve the past and I refuse to forgive someone who destroyed my life on purpose for her own gain. I know that doing this does not help me currently or in the future but I cannot forgive and if this means I will have a terrible rest of my life so be it. There is no guarantee that doing what this article says will help so why bother. i have resigned myself that life will not get better and that is my choice.

    1. So how does it feel not to have anymore hope? waking up every morning knowing it gonna be even worse than yesterday ?

      1. Ani, thanks for your questions. It doesn’t matter how bad it seems at the moment you must strive to hold on to the hope that one day things will get better. I have been there too many times to mention but through everything I have been through I was determined to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It doesn’t matter how severe the pain was I knew that there had to be a better day only that it wasn’t that day. I lived for the day when the pain would subside. It took some time but it did.

        If you are feeling hopeless try to get professional help. They are trained to give you a better insight than I ever can but I can tell you I have been there when I soaked my pillow with tears. Days when the pain was so severe that I hurt physically but through it all I hang on to the hope that one day I will feel better.

        I hope you will get there soon and please let me know when you do. You deserve happiness and it is there waiting for you to claim it.

        I

    2. How you react to life’s circumstances is your choice. You can own your power, or let someone else have power over you. It seems to me that you are choosing the latter.

      1. Don I agree with you wholeheartedly but sometimes it is difficult to see the sun shine through the rain. what I am saying is that it is hard to do and believe when you are dealing with these circumstances.

        I do believe in time we all can find our way. We all can find the will to retrieve our power and learn to live a healthy life.

    3. Hi David I know how you feel because I have been there and had the same attitude. It wasn’t until I hurt so much that the pain became too great for me that I decided to get help. When you fail to forgive and to let go you are only holding yourself hostage. Forgiving and forgetting is not for the other person it is for you so you can go on to live and love again.
      I am no expert nor am I trained but one thing I know for sure is how painful it is to be abandoned and abused by people who professes to love you. I suffer for years because neither parents acknowledge that the did any thing wrong. My mother told me when I was sixteen years old she regretted not aborting me. It hurt me just to even share that but if I can get pass those things and more I know you will too.

      David take back your power from this woman by letting her go. Break all ties and focus on yourself. The best part of your life is before you and your true love still awaits but it wouldn’t be fair to offer a broken man.

      Good luck and let me know how you are doing.

    4. Hi David I know how you feel because I have been there and had the same attitude. It wasn’t until I hurt so much that the pain became too great for me that I decided to get help. When you fail to forgive and to let go you are only holding yourself hostage. Forgiving and forgetting is not for the other person it is for you so you can go on to live and love again.
      I am no expert nor am I trained but one thing I know for sure is how painful it is to be abandoned and abused by people who professes to love you. I suffer for years because neither parents acknowledge that the did any thing wrong. My mother told me when I was sixteen years old she regretted not aborting me. It hurt me just to even share that but if I can get pass those things and more I know you will too.

      David take back your power from this woman by letting her go. Break all ties and focus on yourself. The best part of your life is before you and your true love still awaits but it wouldn’t be fair to offer a broken man.

      Good luck and let me know how you are doing.

  4. This is exactly where I am at right now…a crossroads between dealing with the past or remaining stuck in it. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. Jamie you are so very welcome. My main reason for doing the blog is to help others who like me have arrived at their crossroads. It is always easier when you know you aren’t alone.

      I hope you will choose not to get stuck but only you will know when and what to decide but I do hope you will choose not to remain stuck.

  5. Hello Rose,
    Thank you for this post full of indispensable advice and listed clearly and logically – just what is needed when we are in an emotional whirl!

    I used to tease my late mum about dwelling in the past (sometimes she used to get most upset) but now that I am old myself I can say that one can look back, even at rather unpleasant events, but see them in a greater context and thus see how even they had their use.

    Thank you again – onwards and upwards.
    Kindest regards.

    1. Zarayna – your mother is a brave woman if she is still with you. Marcus Garvey once said “a man without a past is like a tree with out root”. Even though he was talking about history I do believe your past can and will help you to make decisions that can affect your future greatly.

      I am glad that as you get older you also realize that it is important sometimes to reflect on the past so as not to make the same mistakes. Also some of the most beautiful moments are in the past and it is so good to go back and relive them.

  6. Forgiveness is so essential here. Forgiving others and forgiving oneself. Powerful stuff. What helps here is to incorporate the following phrase: Every person behaves in his/her best way possible at any moment with the resources he/she has. Meaning: Yes, you got hurt by person A, but person A did it because he didn’t know how to choose better behavior. It is nothing against you.

    1. Martina – Thanks for your comment and you are absolutely correct. Many times people hurt us and do things to us not because they are mean and want to see us hurt but because they themselves have been hurt so much they have idea that they are hurting us.

      That is why forgiveness is so important. Most people believe forgiveness is for the person who hurt them but it is indeed for the person who was hurt. The person who can forgive those that have hurt them is actually freeing themselves to live.

      Thanks for your comment.

      1. Absolutely Rose. Forgiveness is especially powerful for the person who forgives. To let go of the pain. The hatred. The negativity. And to gain emotional freedom and happiness.

  7. mahavir nautiyal

    Excellent post. Dwelling always in the past saps our energy for , all said and done, we have to live and deal with the present. Accepting the past mistakes ( whether mine or others ), forgive and be patient are good clues. There is always a second chance.

  8. Mahavir -you have a great attitude and you are absolutely correct. We have to move on with our lives and we can only do that by letting go of the hurt and pain.

    Everyday is another chance to make things right.

  9. I too had confidence issues and it led to me being unsocial and thinking I wasn’t good enough. Its hard for me to let the past go and to forgive people for hurting me, but its clear that forgiveness not only helps them, but it helps you to move on and not hold any grudges. This is very inspiring and beneficial.

    1. Morgan we all have to go through these things in life. I am very happy that you can find solace in my story. I wanted others to know that we all have struggles but most importantly we all can make it out.

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