The Healing Power of Letting Go of the Past

Do you ever feel that it’s really difficult to let go of whatever happened to you in the past? Perhaps you feel that you’ve become permanently attached to the things that effected you deeply. Do you sometimes find yourself replaying old memories in your mind, reliving the events that caused you pain, stress, regret or anxiety? When was the last time you firmly closed the door on the past and turned your focus clearly towards the future?

Some of us think that holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it’s letting go. – Hermann Hesse

One of the greatest challenges that we all face is in dealing with our reluctance to let go. We’re far more likely to suffer the same old pains throughout our lives simply because of this persistent habit of clinging to the past. We seem to be addicted to reliving all the negative events and experiences that conspired to leave their mark on us. Does any of that sound familiar to you?

And there’s more.

Have you noticed how you tend to hold onto the precise events that produced the greatest amount of pain and discomfort? Isn’t it strange that we’re less likely to recall the bright and joyful occasions when we were really happy? It’s as if we prefer to dwell on the negative experiences that reinforce our suffering rather than turning our thoughts and feelings towards those beautiful, precious moments of joy that filled our hearts with light.

To let go is to release the images and emotions, the grudges and fears, the clingings and disappointments of the past, the things that bind and imprison our spirit. – Jack Kornfield

Letting go of the past is an essential ingredient in the quest for a new and better future. The more we dwell on our past problems, difficulties and disappointments, the more we condition ourselves to recreate exactly the same conditions in the future. Because that’s where our emotional energy is focused. The pain of the past becomes our template for the future. It’s no surprise that we keep repeating the same situations over and over again.

It’s only when we learn to free ourselves from the past that we can create a future for ourselves that truly matches our goals, ambitions and potential.

Part of the problem is the way we engage with what has gone before.

We are conditioned to experience the past through our memories – a notoriously unreliable medium! – and then we colour our recollections with the emotional shading associated with each image. As you’ll know only too well, the past is richly endowed with emotional significance. That’s why it exerts such a powerful influence on our perception. The past becomes a familiar narrative that shifts and adapts with every telling. In reality, it’s more of a story and rarely an accurate reflection of what really happened.

Freeing ourselves from this emotionally-textured narrative is one of the most liberating endeavours we can undertake. As we learn to free ourselves from the painful ties that bind us to our stories, we can discover new ways of living, ways that offer access to our true potential for happiness, wellbeing, success and fulfilment.

I demolish my bridges behind me and then there is no choice but to move forward. – Fridtjof Nansen

Forgiving past mistakes and moving on is a great starting point. Forgiving others is important but forgiving ourselves is perhaps even more significant because it helps us to rise above the burdens of guilt and pain that often hold us in the grip of past mistakes.

Forgiving ourselves is an act of kindness that helps to neutralise the past and signals that we’re ready to move on. We’re free to acknowledge that we’ve learned from our mistakes and that we’re ready open our lives to new possibilities. That’s a moment of personal liberation that can mark the start of a much more positive phase of experiencing life to the full. And, as you might have guessed, letting go is the key.

Holding on is believing that there’s only a past; letting go is knowing that there’s a future. – Daphne Rose Kingma

Make a clear declaration right now that you’re ready to let go of the past and embrace a brighter, happier and more fulfilling future for yourself. Because, deep down, you know you deserve it.