How To Let The Past Go With A 5-Step Plan
“There is a fine balance between honouring the past and losing yourself in it. You can acknowledge and learn from the mistakes you made and then move on. It’s called forgiving yourself." Eckhart Tolle
Make peace, forgive, let go – you know what you need to do. And yet you still feel the past nudging its way back into your present moment via shame, regret, anger or bitterness. You let the past perpetuate limiting self-beliefs and erode your self-esteem. It might feel like the past is stopping you from feeling joy.
Ready to let go?
Let’s get started with a 5-step plan…
1. Accept your feelings
If we keep burying our feelings of shame, regret and painful memories they will resurface time and again. Sit with these feelings and accept them. Say to yourself ‘Yes, I was hurt’ or ‘I made a mistake, I feel ashamed’ and let it be painful. If you’ve been ignoring your hurt you need to accept things as they are. This is a way of ‘making peace’ with the past, by accepting what happened and how it made you feel. Owning up to your past is about taking responsibility. Only then can we let it go - and move forward.
2. Forgive yourself and others
Unwillingness to forgive will keep you trapped in the past forever. There is nothing more wasteful than a life spent feeling angry about a past relationship or situation when the other person has happily moved on with their lives. Show yourself compassion for past mistakes. If you can’t forgive someone in person, forgive them in your heart. Forgiveness takes strength, courage and humility. If you need to ‘get it all out’ in the process of forgiveness, get your pen and paper ready for the next step …
4. Conduct a ‘Letting Go’ ceremony
Write down all the memories and feelings you want to let go. Don’t hold back. Perhaps there are photographs attached to a painful past moment too. Now burn them. Let your feelings of hurt, shame and regret literally go up in smoke and float away. A meditation should follow sending peace and releasing yourself from all that you were holding onto. Always end a letting go ceremony with forgiveness and gratitude.
3. Reset the space
Take a look around. If we keep bumping into our past via photographs, objects and things that remind us of a person or a moment that fills us with negative emotions or painful memories then these objects need to go. Take a walk through your home and unclutter the triggers. Put them in a box and store them away or get rid of them altogether. Don’t forget your online space too and who and what you keep bumping into. Now, reset your space (or online feeds) with whatever nourishes and brings joy in the present moment. That might be flowers, plants or my own personal favourite right now – my tulip-covered bedspread that makes me happy every time I look at it.
5. Focus entirely on the life you’re creating
If you focus on sadness, regret or shame (from the past) then this will become your reality. Instead, shift your focus entirely to the life you are creating today. That’s right, life is created, it’s not something that just happens to you (or did happen to you). Make the decision to no longer ruminate on things that are out of your control. Pour your emotional energy exclusively into your present moment - and cherish it. If you’ve built your identity on the past, it’s time to let that identity go and focus on the little things you do each day, over and over, to create the person you want to be. Become that person - and don’t look back.
Header Photo by Unsplash