How to Stop Thinking About the Past: Moving Forward

How to Stop Thinking About the Past Moving Forward

Living in the past can be a heavy burden that prevents us from moving forward and finding happiness. However, by adopting certain strategies, it is possible to let go of the past and embrace a brighter future. In this blog post, we will explore effective techniques to stop thinking about the past and start living in the present. Let’s dive in!

Feeling like we’re in control feels good. Feeling like we’ve gone through a lot and are now properly equipped with the experience necessary to be able to face the future without any obstacles feels great.

So we plan. We dissect, analyse and scrutinize our past in order to plan out our future according to what we think we’ve now learnt. Obviously, learning from the past is not a bad idea. After all, no one wants to repeat the same mistakes.

However, we really should be focusing on the present moment rather than wasting our time criticizing ourselves for something we did last year. What we can do to use it to our own advantage, and how not to repeat the same mistake again next year. What we fail to realise is that life has no pause button . It’s busy happening while we’re sitting there trying to control it.

There’s something about the past that somehow make us want to hang on to it. Could it be because we’re unhappy with the present or afraid of the future? Maybe it’s because we do not know how to move on? Do we find it comforting? Or maybe we feel that it’s important to hang on to it because it makes us who we are today?

How to Stop Thinking About the Past: Embracing the Present Moment

Living in the present moment is crucial for overcoming the negative effects of dwelling on the past.

Ask yourself the following question:

“Would you keep a chive on your tooth just because you enjoyed last night’s potato?” (from the television show Boston Common)

That doesn’t make much sense now, does it? Especially if you’re going to want to keep a little memento for more than one potato you’ve enjoyed (or really disliked) in your life. Keeping chives in your teeth will become a habit. It will be annoying, unattractive and limiting, but you will still do it because you’re used to it. So say hello to chive build-up. Soon you’re going to have a mouth full of chives from potatoes you enjoyed. Potatoes you didn’t and potatoes you do not even remember eating.

Doesn’t a major tooth brushing session sound tempting right now?

Well, letting go of the past is not as hard as it may seem. Neither is living in the present – here’s how:

Accept that the past is the past

Moving Forward

Whatever happened, happened and there is absolutely nothing you can do to change it. Accepting the fact that there is nothing you can do about something is not always easy. It makes you feel powerless, and let’s admit it, no one likes feeling powerless.

However, realizing and accepting the fact that things that happened in the past are not your responsibility anymore. Even though they may once have been – can also be a huge relief.

It’s completely okay to let things go. This also includes things you feel guilty about. So stop beating yourself up about past events that you cannot change and concentrate on the present instead.

Create some chive art

There are some things that may be harder than others to let go of, there are some you may not want to completely let go of. There are some things that are actually really worth keeping.

And you know what? It’s perfectly fine to do so as long as you don’t keep them wedged between your teeth. Create a chive collage. Write about that one chive you absolutely adore, and paint a portrait of that particular chive you really had a bad experience with and throw darts at it.

Or in more lifelike terms, create a photo album, paint a picture or keep a diary. Letting go of the past doesn’t mean you have to completely forget about it.

It’s perfectly okay to have memories,. You just have to make sure that you don’t let them get involved with the present. Creating a photo album, painting a picture or keeping a diary may actually help you do just that. Not only will this let you keep a small keepsake of whatever it is you were attached to, this will also help you realise how constantly things change, and how some things are very clearly better left in the past.

If you’ve already kept a diary, have a look of some of the old entries and you will realise how different you sound.

Sometimes even by reading an entry that’s only a week old. Take out an old photo album and check out that outfit you wore ten years ago – would you wear it again? Probably not.

Stop Basing Everything on Your Experience

Stop Thinking About the Past Moving Forward

No matter how experienced and knowledgeable you may be in whatever situation, all situations are different, even if only slightly. Sure, you can learn from the past, but it is highly unlikely that anything is going to happen in the exact same way twice.

Let’s say you ate a bad potato – are you going to sit there and think ‘That potato was so disgusting, I hate that potato, why did it have to be so disgusting? I bet every single potato I’m ever going to eat in the future is going to be just as disgusting if not even more. Seriously though, I’m going to start avoiding all potatoes like the plague. Or maybe if I’m really careful about which potatoes end up on my plate in the future I might be able to only get the good ones.’?

If you do that each time life serves you a potato, you’re probably going to end up staring at it with your fork in hand, wondering if it’s going to taste bad because the last one you ate did and if you really want to go through the same thing again.

You might be thinking ‘Oh, the last one I ate tasted so bad because it lacked salt’. So you add some salt thinking it’s going to make this one taste better – but what you might not know is that the one you have in front of you right now is already salty enough but lacks butter.

When you base your actions completely on your experience, you are limiting yourself and probably missing out on a bunch of good stuff- because that potato may be delicious just the way it is you’re just letting it go cold.

Just Grab the Potato in Front of You and Take a Bite

Sometimes you pick your potatoes and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes potatoes are going to be served up looking delicious and they’re going to taste absolutely disgusting. Oh, and sometimes a potato you spent a great deal of time preparing according to the recipe or according to experience is still going to taste gross. It may be your fault because you forgot to add the butter, but it may also be the timer’s fault for deciding not to go off and letting your potato burn.

Take things as they come, even if they’re not what you expected, what you wished for or what you planned. Stop thinking too much and stop trying too hard. Stop making an effort to control things that are impossible to control or not even worth controlling.

Rather than wasting your time going over things that are now in the past, you should be making the most of the present moment because it is all you’ve got.

Or to put it all rather simply: Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.

Q&A  How to Stop Thinking About Past

How long does it take to stop thinking about the past?

The healing process is unique to each individual, and there is no specific timeframe for letting go of the past. It depends on various factors, such as the intensity of past experiences, personal resilience, and the strategies employed for healing. With dedication, self-compassion, and consistent practice of the techniques mentioned in this guide, you can gradually reduce the grip of the past and create a more present-focused mindset.

Is it normal to occasionally think about the past?

Yes, it is entirely normal to have occasional thoughts about the past. Our memories are a part of who we are, and they can resurface from time to time. The key is to develop a healthy relationship with those thoughts and prevent them from consuming your present and future. By implementing the strategies outlined in this guide, you can learn to manage these thoughts and redirect your focus towards the present moment.

What if I keep making the same mistakes as in the past?

If you find yourself repeatedly making the same mistakes, it’s essential to reflect on the underlying patterns and triggers. Consider seeking professional help to gain insight into these patterns and develop strategies to break free from them. Remember that change is a gradual process, and setbacks are a natural part of growth. Approach yourself with compassion and persistence, knowing that each step forward brings you closer to breaking free from the cycle.

Embrace the present moment, heal emotional wounds, and forge a path forward that reflects your true potential. It’s time to stop thinking about the past and start living the life you deserve.

About the author


Currently on my third consecutive gap year, I am happy living day by day and taking things as they come. I love food, worship the sun, wish I would exercise more often, and don’t think life is as complicated as we make it out to be!

1 Comment

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  • POTATOE POTATOE POTATOE, i want to eat potatoes now!!! hahaha
    And i’m thinking about making a chive artwork…..I’m sure it’s gonna be successful!

    Haha no, seriously, you’re article is very funny yet very interesting! I love it!!!


    (Cueille ta vie, avant qu’elle soit emportée par le vent.
    Cueille ta vie, avant qu’elle soit abîmée par le temps.
    Ne là laisse pas s’envoler loin des rêves, cueille là dès maintenant.)