To let go of something bothering us, we need to reshape our thoughts consciously. Letting go is difficult but not unattainable. Past injuries and grieving about them as often as possible usually leaves us speechless. The intense pain, sorrow, outrage, humiliation, and other emotions drive us into self-analysis and introspections.
Does your past keep haunting you? Do you feel angry, guilty, or regretful about things you did or didn’t do? Well, we tend to hold on to past experiences without knowing. Feelings of guilt, regret, and anger can stay with you for a long time. It is essential to know that letting go takes time. What happened to you in the past is part of who you are, but it does not define you. However, if you continue to dwell in the past, you will never embrace the present moment. With that in mind, this article aims to give you insights on how to let go.
Past events and injuries, either real or constructed in our minds, often creates stress, anxiety and depression which do not let us concentrate on the present. Everyone encounters some events which make long-lasting impressions. Recognizing a purpose for each event we experience, including our association’s natural end with all we have lived in this life, will let us value each experience significantly more. This understanding may be one of the most significant advantages of progressing through the healing procedure.
1. Take note of the core emotions
The very first step of letting go entails paying close attention to the core emotion you are experiencing. It also involves paying attention to what that emotion is telling you. Emotions tell us a lot about our environment and ourselves.
If you are having difficulty letting go of your past hurts, it could be because you feel guilty, regretful, sad, or even angry. Guilt can make you feel like you have violated some rule. Regret, on the other hand, can make you wish something did not happen. Feeling angry is an indication that whatever happened to you or another person was unfair.
That said, you must resolve whatever emotion you may be dealing with, so you can move on and live in the present.
2. Validate your thoughts and feelings
Your emotions are valid, and they are a real indication that you’ve been through painful experiences. Therefore, letting go does not mean pushing away your feelings. Downplaying or ignoring what you have gone through can worsen your situation. Remember, you are hurting because your feelings need attention.
Therefore, you must accept what you feel with self-compassion and understand that it will eventually come to pass. When you validate your thoughts and emotions, you will be able to calm down and manage them more effectively.
3. Distract yourself to let go
Distancing yourself from the person or situation that is causing you pain is an effective way of letting go of the past. Shifting your attention to something else enables you to take your mind off the pain.
That said, you can distract yourself by engaging in your hobbies or stimulating activities. Activities such as walking, swimming, photography, sewing, or watching movies prevent you from noticing your pain and discomfort.
In other words, focusing on things other than the pain allows you to let go of the frustration and toxic emotions continually.
4. Practice meditation
Resisting whatever is happening to you can intensify your pain. Therefore, you must practice meditation. Meditation allows you to recognize your emotions. It will enable you to pay attention to what is happening in your mind and body to accept it and experience it non-judgmentally.
Meditation also enables you to face your problems with self-compassion and understanding. It can alleviate your stress, anxiety and relax your body. It can bring you peace and contentment.
Being in the present moment with your feelings increases your awareness. It decreases your tendency to focus on past events.
5. Exercise is good to let go of the past
Physical exercise can improve your mental and physical well-being. Exercise does not only help you stay active, but it is also therapeutic. When you exercise, you release feel-good hormones known as endorphins, which help alleviate your emotional pain.
Exercise helps to reduce stress and anxiety. It allows you to experience anger and sadness fully. That said, you can let go of the past by incorporating exercises in your daily schedule.
Try to exercise at least 15 minutes each day, and then gradually increase the duration as your body gets used. A few minutes of exercise can make a big difference.
Forgiveness can boost your physical and mental well-being. It can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Forgiveness is more than just letting go and moving on. It means that you can offer the person who hurt your understanding, empathy and even compassion.
You may not be able to forgive someone who abused you, but you can show them empathy and understanding. It is important to note that forgiveness does not mean reconciling, nor does it mean that you are weak.
Once you know your pain source and acknowledge that you are hurt, you must stop holding onto the negative emotions.
7. Write a journal
Journaling is cathartic and a helpful way of letting go of the past. Writing about your past hurts can make a big difference in how you process difficult emotions and thoughts.
Journaling allows you to express your hurt, anger, and pent-up emotions. Consequently, you can get painful thoughts and negative feelings out of your mind and start the healing process.
When journaling, it is important that you jot down the steps you will take to break away from your troublesome thoughts. Create a plan of action for how you will move forward and the things you want to let go of. Be sure to write the best ideas too for letting go.
8. Reach out to your loved ones
People often think that sharing their problems is a sign of weakness. However, holding onto your negative thoughts and emotions can exacerbate your pain. That said, another way of letting go of the past and difficult situations is by discussing them with friends and family.
Talking with someone who listens to you patiently and non-judgmentally can lift that burden off your shoulders and hasten your healing process. If you are feeling overwhelmed by past hurts, try to find someone you can talk to.
Once you find someone you can trust, be sure to open up about everything that is bothering you. You will not only feel relieved but also get advice on how to navigate your problems.
9. Seek therapeutic help to let go
If talking to a friend or family does not help, you must consider talking to a qualified and skilled therapist. Talking to a therapist can help you navigate your troubling issues and learn self-soothing skills.
A therapist can help you gain clarity and awareness of problems you might not be consciously aware of. Through therapy, you will learn how to channel thoughts and feelings into proactive behavior. You might also learn easy ways to let go of events bothering you.
Your therapist will help you understand that you do not have to respond to painful events with anger or sadness. Psychotherapy will teach you how to control difficult emotions. It will empower you to cultivate happiness and calmness, even in the face of painful life events.
10. Recite mantras
Declarative statements or positive self-talk can interrupt negativity and change your life. That said, chanting mantras is an effective way of letting go and releasing unwanted thoughts and emotions.
The key to an effective mantra is not the words. Instead, what matters is how that affirmation or mantra makes you feel. For a mantra to be effective, it must make you feel good whenever you recite it. A good mantra is one that helps you reframe your thoughts.
A mantra like, “I am willing to see this differently,” can empower you to do something about your current situation. It shows you are willing to alter your perception and perspective about your undesirable situation. A new perspective will pop up, and you will begin to feel better.
11. Practice self-care
Self-care is an effective way of letting go of past hurts. Self-care is the act of soothing yourself in any situation. It involves treating yourself with compassion, kindness, gentleness, and love.
That said, self-care can involve asking for help, doing the things that bring you joy, or setting healthy boundaries. It also entails learning to say no and prioritizing your physical, spiritual, or emotional needs.
Incorporating self-care into your day-to-day life can make your experience less overwhelming.
12. Spend time around positive people
Prolonged negativity can harm your mental health. Besides, negativity is contagious. Pessimistic people and complainers can pass on their gloomy attitude and defeatist outlook to you.
Therefore, you must learn to spend time with people who uplift you. Make it a habit to spend time with people who care about you or people who make you feel content and enlightened. You will not only make happy memories but also become more satisfied and even healthier.
You will always look forward to meeting up with them, which, in turn, will help you focus on the present and let go of the past and negative emotions.
13. Allow yourself to feel the pain
People tend to panic whenever they think about their painful feelings and the impact those feelings might have on their life. No matter how much you try to avoid negative emotions, they will follow you everywhere. Hiding your feelings can create perpetual anxiety because you cannot let down your guard lest the feelings resurface.
Therefore, the best way to heal is to allow yourself to experience those negative emotions. Do not shut out your sadness, grief, anger, or disappointment, nor judge yourself for hurting for too long. Release the negative emotions so you can move on.
14. Educate yourself on letting go
These days, you do not need to enroll in a course to learn new things. There are tons of great online resources on how to move on from past hurts. A great place to start your research would be YouTube videos on pain relief, particularly the ones talking about how to get over the trauma.
There are also numerous books, as well as blog posts on how to address past hurts. Be sure to check them out.
15. Practice gratitude
When you are hurting, you are likely to get consumed by your world. Being able to connect with other people can help you get over your past problems and difficult situations.
Showing gratitude can have immense benefits on your mental well-being. Gratitude can reduce depression and boost your happiness. For instance, volunteering allows you to be grateful for what you have. It can change your perception and mood.
Acts of gratitude remind you that you still have something to be grateful for despite the struggles, sadness, and challenging times.
16. Pursue your interests
Engaging with your interests can make you feel alive. Following your passion gives you a sense of purpose. It helps you to think of bigger things other than yourself. Creative work of any form from cooking to painting or gardening or whatever you love to do can make you happy. Even spending time in natural surroundings can help rejuvenate you. Pursuing your interests can also help you let go of unpleasant memories.
You will be more content with yourself and the decisions you make and not feel weighed down by inaction. When you spend time doing what you love, you are less likely to engage in self-defeating thought patterns and behaviors.
17. Get out of your comfort zone to let go
If you want to let go of the past, try to improve your life. Make it better than it was in the past by taking small but consistent steps out of your comfort zone. Commit yourself to overcome your fears and trying new things.
Getting out of your comfort zone might feel intimidating, but it is that courage to take small steps that brings about progress. Therefore, decide to try something new today to overcome the past and many other obstacles in your life.
18. Don't ruminate
People love to think about the negative things that happened to them in the past or their regrets. However, ruminating and self-blame can expose you to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. It can also prevent you from thinking about the present and the future.
You may think you are trying to find solutions to your problems, yet you are just replaying your failures. While it is okay to keep expressing your struggles, you need to be careful not to over-indulge in obsessive thoughts.
You can stop rumination by learning to recognize that inner critical voice or unfavorable changes in your mood. If your thoughts about the past are full of anger and regrets, you are probably ruminating.
Final thoughts on letting go
Letting go of the past can make you happier, healthier, and more content with life. Remember, time heals all wounds. However, to heal your wounded thoughts and emotions, you need to focus on your healing actively. Take baby steps, and focus on changing what you need to change to become a better you.