While it may be understandable as to why you’re struggling with certain major events (like the loss of the loved one or the breakup of a long-term relationship), eventually you do have to move on. So, what can you do to finally put them behind you (where they belong) so you can actually begin to go forward with your life?
When something happens that you’re completely unprepared for, it often feels like your world has ended. You don’t know how to cope and you certainly can’t imagine a life with any sort of normalcy.
But, learning to let go of whatever has a hold on you is not only beneficial to your state of mind, but it’s necessary if you want any chance at happiness. So, whatever has happened in your world that has turned it upside down, needs to be dealt with in a way that turns it back right-side up.
Here are five ways to help you if you’re having difficulty doing just that:
Take off the rose colored glasses
It’s easy to look in the past and only see the good things. Maybe you just went through a painful divorce that you didn’t want and all you can remember are the good times. You think of the way he made you laugh and all the wonderful things you did together.
While all of those memories may be true, they’re only half the picture. Your marriage didn’t end because you were too happy together. It ended because of the unpleasant times.
So, if you find that you’re spending way too much time living in the past, maybe it’s time to take off your rose colored glasses and see it for what it was. Not that you want to throw stones or create a bunch of negative images, but you need to be honest about what really happened.
Maybe there were infidelities or loud, frequent screaming matches. Perhaps you grew apart and you spent a lot of nights feeling very alone, whether he was physically there with you or not. Realizing that this “tragedy” may actually be a good thing will help you to get over it much sooner than if you choose to ignore what really transpired.
Resolve issues if you can
Often the most replayed events are the ones in which we feel a lack of resolution. We can’t let them go because they somehow remain unfinished. Maybe you did something wrong and never apologized. Perhaps you hurt someone close to you and never made amends.
If you screwed up, the only way to move beyond it is to make it right in your mind. It’s time to fix the broken parts of your life so that you can pick up the pieces and walk into tomorrow knowing you did the best you could.
Now, this doesn’t mean that the other person is going to forgive you and all will be grand. Sure, that’s what you should hope for. But, you can’t make it a certainty. All you can do is try to do the right thing and it’s up to them where it goes from there.
Either way, you’ll know that you’ve done what you can to attempt to take care of the issue once and for all. If it is an issue that can’t be resolved, that takes us to the next point…
Accept what cannot be changed
There are some things that either you can’t change or you have no control over. For example, you can’t make someone accept your apology and you certainly can’t undo whatever has already been done. The most you can do is try to glue it back together, but sometimes the glue just doesn’t hold, no matter how much you want it to.
If you find yourself in a position where there is nothing more you can do to make a situation right, you need to come to terms with that. You have to accept that nothing is going to change what happened and find a way to move forward with your life.
When you’re struggling in this area, it may benefit you to talk to a professional. Finding a therapist that understands where you’re at and can help you reach a point of peace in your life may be just the key you need to unlock a bright, new tomorrow.
At a minimum, you need to forgive yourself if you did do something wrong. That doesn’t mean that you’re saying that it was right. It just means that you’re prepared to lay it to rest, learn from it and let it go.
Become fully engaged in the present
One sure way to let the past be the past is to become so involved with the present that you can think of nothing else. It can take some getting used to, but the more you do it the easier it becomes.
Try this simple exercise: Sit at the dinner table and place an object in front of you. (Any object as it really doesn’t matter which one you use.) For the next minute or two, focus solely on the object and nothing else.
Describe it to yourself. Note its every curve. See its color in complete detail. Think about what it is used for. Dream about how it was created. Learn it inside and out. Make up stories about it, whether they would be believable or not. Let your creativity unfold.
Once you complete this exercise you’ll realize how engulfed in the present you became. Nothing else existed for that short moment of time, other than the object that sat in front of you.
Live your life with that type of intensity and focus and you won’t be able to spend time dwelling in the past because you’ll be so focused and intent on the present. Plus, you’ll experience a greater level of happiness because you’ll be fully involved in your life.
Create a plan for the future
Another strategy to apply is to develop a plan for the future that is so exciting to you that you think about it night and day. Maybe you’ve always wanted to go back to school or even open your own business. Perhaps you want to spend more time painting pictures or aim to finish your first 5k.
Sometimes people spend a lot of time in the past simply because they have nothing to look forward to tomorrow. There is nothing to get their inner motor running and create the drive that they need to keep making advances in their life.
Find something that excites you and begin to plan it. Put your dreams in motion by taking steps that get you one step closer to where you want to be. Sign up for classes or buy what you need to pursue your goals. Get truly inspired and motivated about the life that lies ahead.
The past is in the past for a reason. It’s meant to stay there. Let it go and actually start living your life. You’ve got so much more ahead of you; it would be a shame to waste it.