In many ways, your past is an integral part of who you are. Your experiences — both positive and negative — have influenced your journey and provided you with tools to navigate adversity. Your unique perspectives earned from your history may help make you an innovative and powerful presence in your business or creative endeavors. Yet, that isn’t to say that elements of your past are always going to have a good impact on your life.
Trauma, regret, stress, and loss are experiences many people have to navigate. They’re part of being human. Nevertheless, they can also be a toxic presence, holding you back from the life you want, need, and deserve. Knowing how to let go of the past may be key to your brighter future, but it’s certainly not an easy ride.
Let’s look at some tactics and considerations that can be instrumental in empowering yourself to move forward.
Be Kind to Yourself
When interacting with other people who are moving past trauma, regret, or loss, you likely have no hesitation in treating them with kindness. Yet, it is so often the case that people find it more challenging to direct this consideration inward. Dealing with any kind of healing, particularly when juggling other areas of life, family, or running a business, is a difficult and often painful process. It is, therefore, vital to ensure you treat yourself kindly as you figure out how to let go of the past and move forward in life.
Developing habits of self-compassion can be a powerful tool for your mental health and physical well-being. It can also enable you to cope more effectively when navigating difficult experiences, like trauma, regret, and loss. This begins with acknowledging the fact that, as a human, you will face struggles and can’t be expected to act flawlessly throughout them. From here you can not only cut yourself some slack but also start to prioritize actions that help you identify what you need to move forward.
Take the time to listen to your inner self regularly. Be mindful of the harsh ways people often talk to themselves when navigating difficult scenarios. Make efforts to understand that the actions you took, reactions you had, or behaviors you still exhibit are results of your humanity rather than unforgivable failures. Importantly, being kind involves ultimately untethering yourself from the self-punishment you neither need nor deserve.
Implement Self-care Routines
When establishing how to let go of the past, it is also important to implement effective self-care routines. The process of healing is likely to involve a great deal of self-examination and revisiting feelings or memories that may feel quite turbulent at times. Your efforts to take care of your needs are essential tools in bolstering your resolve.
Incorporating mindful self-care into your daily life can take a variety of forms. Focus on activities that nurture your physical wellness, mental health, social needs, and spiritual strength. You’ll often find that even taking small steps in each of these areas is holistically rejuvenating and can help you feel more capable of addressing the challenges involved with letting go of your past.
Also remember that self-care shouldn’t be limited to your home life. After all, the difficult feelings surrounding trauma, regret, and loss are unlikely to suddenly disappear when you’re in the office. It’s worth committing to a habit of meditation or mindfulness even in 5-minute intervals during your work day. Look for resources you can keep in your workplace for times you find particularly difficult. The more comprehensive your self-care routine is, the more effective it’s likely to be in helping you move forward.
Take Empowering Steps
Part of the issue with trauma, regret, and loss is that these things tend to make us feel powerless. Yet, the truth is that part of knowing how to let go of the past is knowing how to take control of the future. Make no mistake, you can take empowering actions to move forward, which in turn enables you to accept and release the painful times behind you.
It can often be helpful to take a practical approach to this. Make a formal list of the elements that you feel are stopping you from letting go of the past — both emotional and physical in nature. You can then map out a ‘letting go’ plan for the actions you can take to address or overcome these, along with the resources you need.
Another empowering step is to implement significant changes in your life. This may involve moving away from your current community and the surroundings related to your trauma or loss. Importantly, it’s a fresh start to building new opportunities, memories, and experiences. Again, you’ll find a long-distance move goes more smoothly if you use a checklist to formalize your plans. Arranging your budget, scheduling your moving services, and making arrangements for your career can all help you feel more in control of the situation.
You should also feel empowered to discard what is no longer serving you well. While anger can be a driving force, resentment can be toxic in the long term. These are emotions that can tie you to the painful elements of your past. Assess these and how they impact your ability to move forward. Then give yourself permission to relinquish what isn’t a positive influence.
Moving past trauma, regret, and loss isn’t easy but it is possible. It is vital to approach the process with self-compassion that enables you to address the challenges. Self-care routines can also provide you with invaluable coping resources along the way. Wherever possible, take empowering and practical steps to make positive changes in your life. With mindfulness, compassion, and commitment, you can find your route to the future and finally figure out how to let go of the past.