“Sometimes the past should be abandoned, yes. Life is a journey and you can’t carry everything with you. Only the usable baggage.” ~Ha Jin
I was raised in an abusive environment, and while I was never personally abused, I learnt early on to stay out of the way; to remain as quiet as possible. In short, I learnt to be invisible.
What I realized later in life, was that I carried that behavior with me into my adult years. I became extremely introverted, so much so that some personality surveys deemed me to be reclusive. I was struggling to let go of those hurtful memories and behaviors, and it dawned on me that it became my defense.
Once I realized that I was holding on to these self-defeating behaviors, because I was afraid of the unknown, it became quite clear that letting go was much harder than it appeared to be. It is not something that you can do over night, or in a few days or weeks.
Along the way, here are the 5 action steps I used to help me to let go of the past.
- Accept the past and recognize that the time has come to let go
I will be the first to tell you, that this is actually the hardest part of the process. The past belong to you; you’ve held on to it all your life or for years, and you’re comfortable with it. The important thing to note is that it belongs to you; and that means that you can do what ever you want with it, and that includes letting it go.
By accepting the past, it’s power over you lessens. You now realize that it happened, and as much as it is painful, there is nothing you can do to change it. You can only learn and grow from the experience.
It now becomes much easier to let go and move on with your life.
At this point, it is imperative that you forgive, not only the person or persons who’ve wronged you, but also yourself.
When you forgive, you are better equipped to let go of your anger and resentment. By letting go of your anger and resentment, you become free to move on with your life. Catherine Ponder says it best:
“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”
3. Focus on what you have the power to do.
Instead of constantly focusing on the hurt and the pain, focus on what you can do to make positive changes in your life.
So ask yourself:
- What CAN I focus my time and energy on instead to actually make positive progress or a change in my life?
- What is one small step I can take today to get started with that?
4. Positive Affirmations
Often times no matter how painful an experience may be, there is usually a silver lining. Find that silver lining, that one positive from the pain and turn it into positive affirmations, or of statements of intent. Click here for some great examples of affirmations.
5. Let go again
It sometimes become necessary to let go of something again. As I mentioned earlier, letting go does not happen over night.
What you will find is that the more you let go of something, it will pop back up less often; and each time it does, it has less power to hurt you.
Remember, it takes time to break away from old habits, especially when they are deeply rooted in old hurts and or fears. So be patient and kind to yourself.