Recently, memories and past hurts have been creeping into my mind. Whether it was the session with an energy healer, or just giving myself space to think, I've been experiencing things that I thought I healed from long ago.
Past and even recent events have been leaking out during conversations, appearing in my mind in the middle of the night, and sitting on my shoulders, all day long. Just yesterday I sat down and realized that I hadn't fully healed from my past after sharing a deep conversation with my boyfriend. Just the thought of certain happenings weighed on my chest and made me eerily emotion.
Healing from the past is not so simple. I mean, the past isn't there anymore, so how can we heal something that no longer exists?
I began reading articles, peeled open my journal, and even sat in deep meditation, trying to find ways to release my thoughts.
And then it hit me.
The past doesn't exist anymore, and that's how we heal from it--by simply letting it go.
I may have been hurt years ago, and I may have been hurt last week, but we always get hurt. We get knocked down, but then we stand back up and move on. If we were never sad, we'd never be happy.
Life is about all the moments, not just the happy ones. If we fear every bad thing, how can we possibly make it to the end without any baggage?
The consequences of not letting go and holding onto pain
When we don't let go of the past, we most always find ourselves stressed and overwhelmed.
Pain clings to us and creeps up when we're not expecting it, and negative thoughts result in unnecessary clutter in our minds. It's normal for people to think about the past, but if you're only focusing on the past, you'll never have time for the now, or even the future.
The majority of back problems and heart issues result from holding onto regret and emotional pain. Stress-related physical conditions are real, and science is just beginning to graze the surface of how our emotions and thoughts related to physical pain.
When we hold onto pain, we are also more prone to illness, migraines, headaches, physical pains, and even infections. When we hold onto pain for too long, bad thoughts can develop into chronic illness, heart attacks, and even cancer.
Also, our personalities and overall aroma and energy can change over time if we fail to let go of the past. We may often feel anxious, experience FOMO and other fears, as well as distrust people. We may be scared to start new relationships, or even ruin them by spreading negativity and pain without realizing it. Anger and fights are more likely to occur, as wounded people tend to fight back when on the defensive. We are also more prone to develop negative self-talk, such as "I'm not good enough" and victimize ourselves, which can sabotage everything.
This all comes from not letting go. Isn't that crazy?
Why we hold onto the past
People love certainty, and we love the past because its certain--it already happened. We don't know what the future will bring, but we know what already happened. We crave stories and experiences, as those are what make us seem entertaining and well-lived.
We also love to one-up others by having more crazy experiences than them. Bringing up your past hurts randomly for attention or sympathy is not always a good idea. In fact, it can bring more hurt than anything else.
We often feel bonded to our past. It's what shaped us, made us who we are today. Right?
Not always. If we never learn from our past and instead just carry it with us, we aren't gaining anything from our experiences. In fact, we are the same person, only sadder and a little more hurt.
Introspection vs. Rumination
According to an article by psychotherapist, Tim Hill, there are just two ways in which we reflect on the past: introspection and rumination.
In rumination, we look at the past with guilt, regret, and "what if?" thoughts. We often mistake this for problem-solving, but really we're just beating ourselves up and wasting time.
In introspection, we observe the past as an outsider, because really, that's what we are. We explore experiences with curiosity and ask how we can heal and learn from them, rather than regret the things we did. Healthy journaling is a good way to introspect.
So, obviously, we should always choose introspection over rumination. Next time you find yourself thinking about the past, ask yourself which one you're doing. If you're ruminating, then switch over to introspecting! I know--it's probably easier said than done and in the moment, is probably difficult to actually spot. However, remind yourself that when you do begin thinking about the past, to look at it with an open, self-compassionate mind rather than with shame.
5 powerful ways to heal from your past and finally move on
Now that you have all of the above information in mind, let's dive into the action plan!
1. Remember that "the past" is only an illusion that no longer exists; be present
This is something we should constantly remind ourselves. While we are allowed to ponder the past, we must be aware that it's not happening anymore. It's all in our heads now.
Take a quick break from reading and look around you. What do you see? What do you smell? How do you feel?
Make a mental note of what's around you and remind yourself that you're alive in this moment, and your past self and past experiences are only single thoughts that are now filed away in your subconscious.
Maybe something terrible happened to you. Something unexplainably horrible that even God shouldn't have allowed.
But I hope you find comfort in the thought that the past is over.
All we can do now is move forward with this idea in mind.
2. Forgive, forgive, and forgive again
Even if the people who hurt you never apologized, it's time to forgive them. If it was you who did something wrong, then it's time to forgive yourself; learn from your mistake, understand why you did it, and let it go. Holding onto past resentments and grudges will get you nowhere but down--I mean, you saw all of those negative side effects, right?
When we choose forgiveness, we almost immediately feel a sense of relief. Say it out loud, "I choose to forgive _____".
Maybe send someone a text or ask to meet up and talk things out. Maybe push it aside entirely and just move on because you know talking it out won't benefit either of you. Maybe sit with yourself and look at it from someone else's side. But regardless, choose to forgive.
Remember: forgiving someone doesn't mean you have to be friends with them. All it does is clear your conscious and help you move on.
3. Be grateful for your past
Think about it. If certain things hadn't happened, you wouldn't be where you were today.
If I hadn't gotten dumped unexpectedly on prom night, I would've probably still been with someone who didn't truly like me, and that I didn't really like in return. My present would certainly be so different.
We can learn from what happened, and be grateful for it, rather than continuously hate on others.
While it may seem easier to ruminate on the past, choosing gratitude for each event that occurred can bring entirely new light to the situation.
Take time to appreciate the events of your past, because they have made you into who you are now. But don't tangle yourself in your past, either. Choose introspection over rumination and allow yourself to be free.
4. Choose peace and healing over resentment
Mentally allow yourself to heal, and bring awareness to the process.
Life is a beautiful thing, and if we constantly focus on the pain and resent the past, we may miss what is happening right in front of us. We may be also missing out on many of the good memories.
Yesterday, I randomly ventured onto Facebook and stalked myself for an entire hour. I looked at old photos of myself, as a child and a high schooler, and I found myself smiling. My past wasn't just bad moments--I had plenty of great, wonderful experiences.
I simply forgot about them, because I was so focused on what went wrong.
I allow peace, love, happiness, and healing.
I forgive and release.
Try saying these out loud. And say them again and again, until you believe them fully.
Fill your mind with good thoughts, not grief and guilt that'll surely haunt you forever.
5. Give yourself permission to be human
I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel that I am too harsh on myself when it comes to healing and the remembrance of the past. Sometimes it takes a while to heal, especially from the things that really hurt.
In order to have peace with what is, we must remind ourselves that we're only human, and it's okay to experience emotions other than happiness and contentment. It's alright to take time to heal. It's normal to feel angry, hurt, and want to eat a tub of ice cream for breakfast every day for two weeks--trust me, I've been there.
But we shouldn't allow ourselves to stay hurt. After a while, we need to stand up, brush it off, and move on. We will always get hurt, no matter where we are or who we're with. Life is full of unexpected surprises.
And that's precisely why it's important to live now and enjoy everything that is in this moment.
Sources used ~
I can't express how free I feel once doing a few mental exercises. I hope, after reading this post, you can say the same.
How have you healed from certain events? What are some techniques you've done? Let me know below!
I wish you a very blessed Easter Sunday!