How to Stop Living in the Past and Start Making Your Future Brighter
Have you ever been told to stop living in the past? People will often say this in an attempt to provide encouraging advice about moving on with your life. It sounds easy, but is it?
Although it sounds easy enough, it can be very difficult, especially if there are deep-seated reasons behind living in the past. Significant past experiences and memories, such as the death of a loved one, a painful breakup, traumatic childhood, etc., can be contributing factors as to why you can’t simply and easily move on with life.
Possibly though, you may be holding on to things that are no longer relevant.
If you can’t let go of the past, you won’t be able to fully appreciate the beauty of the present. The hardest part of any change is making the decision and taking the first steps towards healing.
The first step is some quiet and healthy self-reflection.
Pause for a while and contemplate on your current life and its associated feelings, compared to what they could be. Without your active effort, things may improve, terribly slowly. But if you decide to take action you make space for a new happier life.
In this article, I discuss some tips on how to stop living in the past and move forward with eagerness about the future.
Ways to Effectively Let Go of The Past
- Focus on the present — focus, focus, focus
Stop reliving the past and move on. No matter what you do, you can’t undo or remake the past, no matter how much you wish. Rather, what you can do is to make the present day the best. Live as if it’s your last. You will have less time to think about the past if you actively focus on the present.
If you are too fixated on previous negative happenings, there will be no room for positivity. This is entirely a choice you can and have to make – whether to continue hurting yourself or to embrace the new day, potentially full of joy.
- Decide to let it all go, and do this with conviction
To make it work, commit yourself to “move on” and “let it go.” If you don’t, things will continue to go in circles and could end you up getting stuck in the past, again. Make a decision that will empower you and your future, commit to it, and act.
- Make room for forgiveness
It may be hard to forget what has happened in the past and the bad behaviors of the people involved in it. Getting past resentment and forgiving others is a vital step. More to the point, you need the healing that forgiving another brings.
Forgiving doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with what they did.
You can recognize that they did wrong, or badly, yet still forgive them anyway. It’s definitely not a sign of weakness if you do so. It’s confirmation that you want to move on with life and welcome any joy the present moment brings.
Practicing forgiveness and healing your past hurts begins when you look at your life with radical honesty. You have to take inventory of all of the places where you feel you were hurt, victimized, or taken advantage of and be willing to see your own part in them.
Once you get this clarity, the true healing work can begin. You’ll realize that the reason you should forgive others is so YOU can be free. Until you can take full responsibility for your role in things, forgive yourself for your part, and see that by holding onto resentment, you’re only hurting yourself – you cannot be free.
You become free when you reach a point where you can feel genuine gratitude for the things that happened in the past (even the most painful ones) because of the way they allowed you to grow into the person you are and deepen your compassion for yourself and others.
- Physically distance yourself
Don’t remain attached to an environment (including people) that keeps you trapped in your current circumstances and mindset.
It is emotionally healthy to distance yourself from a situation or individual that is causing you to be depressed. Psychological or physical distance can help with the “letting go” process by virtue of not being constantly reminded of anything that hinders your progress.
- Acceptance is the key
Accepting your past experiences and the people that have been part of it will help you in moving on. You must remember that none of these need to define who you are.
Practice the art of acceptance by realizing you can’t change the past then work on remaking yourself and set yourself free.
- Be accountable for your own happiness
Your feelings are yours alone; you can’t blame someone for them. If you do, you’re allowing someone to completely take over you, at least emotionally.
You will feel a huge sense of happiness and empowerment once you take responsibility for your feelings and emotions. Your attitude plays a bigger role in this than any external elements.
- Evaluate your emotions
When assessing your emotions, you need to know what are they bringing to you.
Reminisce if there are happy, positive thoughts there. But if dredging the past causes negativity that will adversely affect your here and now, you don’t want to dwell on it. Replace it with a better thought.
- Make some contributions
Going the extra mile to help others can make you feel warm and happy on the inside. It is one of the best ways to align with the real you.
Brighten yours, and another’s day by offering a smile, saying a simple hello, or donating to a worthwhile cause. These simple acts of kindness can help you set your perspective on a brighter path and can have a lasting impact on others and yourself.
Last thoughts on how to stop living in the past
Pain, resentment, shame, and anger can hold us for our entire lives if we never take the time to dive in and find compassion for ourselves and those who have hurt us.
Healing from our past is a necessary step we need to take if we wish to live a life that is free from hurt and regrets.
Hopefully, these tips can help you with your “moving on” phase.
Remember, any effort you make will all be worth it.
You can do it – cheers to a brighter present and future.
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How to Stop Living in the Past And Start Making Your Future Brighter