Holding on to feelings of pain, anger or frustration doesn’t fix anything but still, a lot of you can’t seem to let go of your painful past? Maybe because we have known them for so long and they feel oddly comfortable.
But holding on to the painful past only keeps us stuck in a victim mentality and stops us from creating a strong and healthy sense of self-defined by who we are and what we want to be in the future.
If you are unable to let go of your traumatic past, bad relationships, grudges, and loss, these 10 tips can assist you:
1) Learn to accept people and situations as they are
Everything should preferably go according to our expectations. We contemplate that our relationships will be as we anticipate it to be; perfect and flawless. We all have a certain image of the kind of person we want to be with, in a relationship. Problem is called for when the person in our head distantly resembles the person in reality. This huge discordance between what we expect and what the reality is, makes it difficult for us to accept the truth.
As we explore the intricacies of our relationships, we discover that things do not always go as we planned and we have to learn to be flexible. After years of being with a person, you might realize he/she isn’t your dream partner. Accepting other individuals also includes respecting them for who they really are. It also means knowing that nobody is perfect and everyone has their share of flaws and virtues, including you.
With time we learn that the world will not always work to our advantage. The most we can do is take responsibility for our part in the relationship, give our best shot, practice gratitude and trust the process. And you will slowly be able to let go of your past.
2) Do not become too invested in outcomes when it comes to dealing with humans
Life is very dynamic and fluid. There are no guarantees in life and there’s really nothing we can do to get our desired outcomes while dealing with human beings.
When our needs or expectations aren’t met, we often become resented and frustrated, reacting very immaturely. Expectations are natural but should not be unrealistic. Not everyone thinks alike. Trying to empathize and understand the perspective of another person makes it easier for us to limit our unrealistic expectations from them.
We have to acknowledge that healthy relationships aren’t built on manipulative techniques and guilt-tripping each other. Blaming the other person for failing to meet your expectations is naive. If both partners aren’t able to fulfill each other’s realistic needs or if they have outgrown each other, it is best to mutually deal with this situation in a calm and mature manner.
In some situations, it could mean defining very clear boundaries, and sometimes it could mean completely letting go and moving on.
3) Let go self-limiting beliefs
The most common mistake after a bad breakup or a setback is that we start doubting our own potentials. We suddenly start evaluating ourselves in a negative light. “Everything bad happened because of me.” “I deserve this.” “I must be punished.” We start having doubt on our self-efficacy based on what happened to us in the past, how people treated us in the past. We forget to rationally evaluate how much we have contributed to our painful past.
These self-limiting ideas make us guilt-ridden by what happened to us in the past. One tends to guilt trip oneself to think that their painful past experience is bad because they are not up to the mark. You are not perfect. Nobody is perfect.
Accepting your strong points and working on the points you want to improve will help rediscover yourself. How others treat us define them as a person, not us. Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.
Push your limits and constantly strive to be your best possible version.
4) You really have no control over others actions
Most of the time we become so focused on changing our partners or situations but we forget that the only thing we have control over is our own selves and how we act.
Don’t indulge in people-pleasing behavior thinking that if I do everything for someone else, they will never leave me or never get mad at me. That’s just a very futile attempt to stay in control. Rather focus on the interpretations you make of their actions, the way you react to their actions and words, and if their actions are controlling your feelings in any manner or not.
Once you are aware and in control of your own interactive patterns, you can practically asses what went wrong in your painful past and this can help you let go and move on.
5) Be concerned about only your opinion of yourself
If you derive your happiness and worth from what people think of you, you are on very shaky ground because people’s opinions will keep changing. A person who is authentic and has self-integrity is very hard to manipulate. The more you are clear about your own value systems and beliefs and the more you live in your truth, the lesser would be your need to seek validation from outside. Nobody knows you better than you.
Spend time in contemplation. Keep a journal where you can record how you feel at several situations, what you have learned from the incident, how you have handled the situation, and also what your particular behavior in that situation tells about you, your believes, and values. This will help you keep in touch with your inner world.
6) Make room for mistakes
Do you keep on ruminating over the painful past, feeling guilty about your mistakes?
Well, welcome to the human experience. All of us are imperfect and we all make mistakes. The key lies in learning from our mistakes and not beating ourselves up over them. Mistakes make us feel guilty about ourselves. Guilt can be both irrational and inappropriate. Pondering over painful past errors rarely makes us guilt-free. And if you are not guilt-free, you cannot let go of the past.
To lead a happy life, one must get rid of irrational guilt. To combat the guilt-inducing judgment that we make of our actions we can review our erroneous self-judgment, accept and promote new sets of non-judgmental beliefs about ourselves and accept responsibility for our behaviors and actions.
7) Do not ponder over painful past events
When you start to view life from a big-picture perspective, you realize that all the stuff that you worry about so much is actually trivial. Don’t try to figure out all the answers in the present moment. Embrace life as it comes. Keep your keen focus on the present.
This helps us to invest the best of ourselves. Remember uncertainty is a part of our lives and only the right time will eventually reveal it. Obsessively thinking about what is about to happen in the future or what happened in the painful past will only drain you off your present fervor.
Enjoy the journey; keep on moving forward and you will see that when you look back, the dots will eventually connect.
8) Face your fears and learn to express yourself unapologetically
Most of the time in our lives we shrink ourselves because we let the noise and opinions of others drown our inner voice. We need to learn to listen to our inner voice and follow our inner compass. Facing our fears is the biggest catalyst that helps us on our path towards growth and evolution. The more we face our fears and push ourselves out of our comfort zones, the more we grow and evolve. Express yourself to others as clearly as possible.
We need to learn to own and express who we are, unapologetically. We must not dim our lights for the sake of others. The light within us is our driving force. Let this force drive you to the pinnacle. Eventually, you will let go of your painful past.
Lisa Nichols puts it so aptly, “They gonna tell you, “Your lights too bright”, then you just look at them and say “Well, I’m not dimming my light. I’m just gonna hand you some shades.”
9) Allow yourself to feel the entire spectrum of human emotions
Grief, pain, and sadness are as much a part of the human emotional spectrum as joy, happiness, and euphoria.
Whenever you face a painful situation like heartbreak, rejection, loss of a job, academic failure, financial crisis, separation, and death of someone close, allow yourself to feel the pain. Do not hold in the hurt. Let it vent out. That will help you to let go the pain as well.
Trying to suppress your pain only prolongs the healing process by building negative energies in your system. The more you focus on the venting of your pent-up energy through cathartic activities like writings, crying, painting or other physical activities, the easier it becomes for the pain to leave your system.
10) Practice forgiveness
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” – Carl Jung
All of us go through grief and painful moments, but we should not let these define who we are. Everyone makes mistakes. It is our part to forgive others who wronged us, not for them, but for our own good. Holding on grudges never benefits us. So, let go the grudges and the painful past!
We are not our painful past events or someone else’s opinion of us. If we start to develop our self-identity around these events, we will become resentful and bitter. Therefore, the golden rule to heal is, to forgive. When we can learn from our experiences and let go, we can develop a healthy and strong sense of self.
Are you ready to let go of your painful past?