Many of us have a very hard time moving on from our pasts. We feel haunted bypast traumas, relationships and incidents. Some of us are consumed with the past and feel obsessed about it. We wish we could live our lives again and change things for the better. Why are we hauntedour past when it’s long gone, and why are we unable to move forward?
When we have a pained relationship with our past, we tend to keep replaying the stories we’re holding onto about it. We keep bringing up old pain and hurting ourselves again and again in the process. Over time, our emotional responses to our past pain can grow stronger, because as we’re replaying the past, our attachment to it is getting stronger. We become even more reactive to it. Past issues can hurt us more in the present than they did when they happened, all because of our perspective.
Our mental habits are rooted in our subconscious minds, which govern the vast majority of our daily lives, including our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Many of us have beliefs stored in our subconscious minds that are informing how we relate to ourselves and our pasts. Subconsciously many of us believe that we have to hold onto the past, to keep us safe, to hold onto certain people in our lives we’ve lost, or to keep us locked in what’s familiar rather than venturing into the unknown. The past, even when it’s painful, is less scary for us because it’s familiar. We are more comfortable with what we know. Many of us are afraid of the future. We are anxious about what’s to come. We are pessimistic about our chances for happiness. Staying stuck in the past can be our way of trying to avoid facing the future.
Similarly, we can keep ourselves focused on the past because our present is too uncomfortable. We would rather dwell on memories, even difficult ones, than deal with our current reality filled with stress, depression, addiction and other challenges. Our past becomes our safe space, our comfort zone, because we find our current lives too hard to handle.
We can be haunted bythe past because we haven’t learned mindful ways of releasing our attachment to things, events, memories and people. We have toxic thought patterns of dwelling, obsessing, replaying things and clinging to them. We haven’t developed healthy mental patterns of releasing what doesn’t serve us so that we can focus on what makes us happy and contributes to our well-being.
Things you need to do in order to be free from your Past:
- Learn to live in the present.
There’s no better way to release the past than to refuse to dwell on it. And the best way to refrain from dwelling on the past is to keep your attention firmly focused on the present. When you find yourself thinking about the past, ask yourself the following question: “Where am I right now?” This will bring your attention back to the present moment.
The only reason that your past is still haunting you is because you keep it alive in your mindthinking about it. However, if your mind is filled with the present, there’s no room left in it for the past.
- Change the Past.
If you don’t like something about your past, change it if you can and if not, forget it.
- Realize that you’re no longer the same person.
A lot of the time we judge what we’ve done in the past through the eyes of who we are in the present. However, our present selves wouldn’t act in the way we did back then, because we’ve grown and matured, and we’re now wiser. So cut your past self.
- Let go through ritual.
The only requisite is that the ceremony has to have meaning for you. Fire has long been a part of ritual, and one ritual you can consider trying is to write down the stories from the past which are still haunting you, and then burn the piece of paper.
- Make room for the new.
One of the best ways to release the past is to make room for the future. What do you do when you’re expecting a baby? You clear out a room of the house in order to prepare a nursery. Then, you fill the nursery with all of the things that the bawill need once it’s born.
- Learn to fall forward.
For most of us, past mistakes play a starring role in the film we play in our minds. However, instead of giving our mistakes the role of antagonists, we can start viewing them as guides that help show us the way toward creating the future that we want for ourselves. We can do this through learning to fall forward.
- Ask yourself what you need to do to be free from your past.
When you ask yourself the question, “Could I let go of this?”, sometimes the answer will be “no”. If this is the case, ask yourself: “What do I need to do in order to be able to let go of this?” As an illustration, maybe you need to confront someone who’s hurt you, or maybe you need to ask forgiveness from someone whom you’ve harmed in some way.
- Give yourself a challenge.
Make a note of how many times you allow your mind to shift to the past during each thirty minute period. Then, resolve to do better the next day. Do this day after day until you’ve achieved enough control over where you place your attention that there are only a few marks on the page.
Atiba Dorcas Anuoluwapo.
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