How to let go of the past and thrive

how to let go and forget to live a more successful and balanced life
We often resist letting go of the past because we feel unsafe accepting and releasing something that’s happened to us or fear that if we don’t hold on to it, we will lose the feeling.  In these situations, we either project that pain that we’ve felt in the past will happen again, or that pleasure that we’ve experienced may not repeat.  In this article, we’ll explore why letting go and moving on is possible and most useful if you want to enjoy a peaceful, joyful, and creative life.

Questioning why we won’t let go 

Often times, we believe that we can’t let go of something, someone, or a relationship, and by believing it, this actually becomes the reality we experience. The science of Epigenetics has proven that what we believe influences our biology and our genetic expression (DNA), and therefore shapes our reality.  In addition to this, other research has found that more than 50% of our memories are not actually what happened.

So if what we believe happened hasn’t actually happened the way we believe it did, and if believing that we can’t let go revalidates this belief, are we actually holding ourselves hostage to our own belief that we can’t let go, and why?

If we begin to question why we would create this belief that we can’t let go, we might become aware of the resistance in ourselves that first created the belief.  Questioning the reality of our own beliefs opens the door to changing those beliefs and freeing ourselves from the pain and suffering of the past.

Most people believe that while they might be able to forgive something or someone that’s neurologically and emotionally associated with pain they’ve felt in the past, they can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t forget what happened or let it go.  If we hold this belief, likes all beliefs, it becomes reality. By simply re-referencing something that has happened in the past over and over again, it remains alive.

When we continue to hold an interpretation or memory active, we unfortunately also keep feeling the pain associated with it again and again.  This means that all the associated thoughts, feelings, and emotions that we’ve experienced around this situation or event continues to affect us and influence our physical, mental, emotional, and even our spiritual state of being.

This constant reminder of what we can’t let go of can includes how we’ve been wronged, how we haven’t been loved, how we’ve been misunderstood, or how we’ve been disrespected or unappreciated, how we’ve not been good enough, etc.  Reminding ourselves of these interpretations and beliefs by not letting go of them is what turns pain into suffering. This cycle of holding on makes very challenging to let go!

How much time do you think you spend each day, every day, thinking about things that have happened in the past that can’t be changed?  And while it’s true for the most part that the facts won’t necessarily change, the interpretations we’ve made about those facts can change.  And for the interpretations to change, the first step is for us to let go of the interpretations we’ve made in the past that are keeping us stuck in feelings of helplessness, disempowerment, or even victimhood.

When we keep things in and we continue to see ourselves and others through the lens of what has happened in the past, we can’t see change and progress. This may leave us feeling confused, angry, and critical.  These negative emotional states in turn lead to a lack of energy, focus, and attention towards what’s happening right now, which is where you real power is.

Thinking is projecting from the past onto the future

Did you know that any thought that you have about anything can only be a thought about the past?  Once you’re thinking about something, it’s already happened.  You’ve stopped being present and you’re in the past.  You can’t be present and be thinking at the same time.  Thinking is essentially a process of comparing, analyzing, interpreting, assessing, judging, or intellectualizing an experience based upon prior experiences.  It’s not a process of feeling and being. When you think, you’re essentially using the past to try to define with some degree of certainty what might happen in the future.

The thinking process prevents us from responding to what is happening in the present moment, in each moment.  It also keeps us stuck in projection mode, which creates a disconnect between ourselves and others.  Thinking can create feelings of separation, loneliness, and even fear.

Looking at something as a problem limits our capacity to effect constructive change

How often do we look back on what we, or others, have done in the past and judge it as ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’, instead of focusing on how we could refine our process now?  For instance, instead of looking at how it was ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’, we could focus on what’s creating the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that we experience about it right now.  When you shift your attention to understanding without judgment what’s created unwanted patterns, dynamics, and behaviors, you become empowered to resolve them.

It’s looking at anything as a problem, and projecting additional problems onto it into the future, that keeps us stuck in the past and in the problem mindset. When you unknowingly look at life through a problem mindset (the one that first created the problem) and assess anything from the past as if it was still happening as it was experienced in the past, you’re actually limiting your ability to move forward towards achieving what you want in your relationships and life.  Holding any fear or negative belief about the past reoccurring in the present or the future, by not letting go, inevitably creates a glass ceiling on your capacity to constructively focus on what you want to create in the present moment.

Judgments and projections limit our clarity of perception

Judging anyone, including ourselves, for perceived ‘wrongs’ in the past doesn’t support bringing about the changes that we want to experience in our relationships and life.  It can’t. It’s more like dragging a 500-pound weight behind you as you try to run a marathon, or sailing the ocean while dragging a huge anchor behind your boat.  It will stop or slow down your momentum, drain your energy, and reduce the quality of your focus and intentionality.

Fearing what we, or others, might – or might not – do in the future won’t help us either.  We can’t possibly know with any degree of certainty what might happen in the next ten minutes unless we’re projecting the past onto the present or future. Whatever you project into the future is ultimately a process of imagination and scenario projection, filled with the limitations of the past.  Nothing that has happened in the past ever unfolds in exactly the same way, even if a part of us wants to believe that it does and therefore experiences it as such.

If we didn’t like what happened in the past, or at least our interpretation of it, and we’re truly committed to building a greater future, we don’t need to hold onto the past to get there.  How much better will we begin to feel when we release our fearful or painful projections from the past by letting go? And how much more aware and present will we become as a result of this shift in focus from the past-present to the present-future?

Letting go is a conscious choice we make when we see the value of doing so

In every moment of your life, you have power and influence over what happens in your life and in how you experience reality.  Whatever changes you want to bring about in your relationships and life is possible when you manage and implement those changes with conscious wisdom and discernment.  It’s possible to consciously choose to let go of the past and not worry about the future by choice; a choice that you choose to make, again, and again, and again. It’s possible to focus all of your energy in the present moment with the intention of reaching your goals right now.

Every moment we spend away from the present moment – i.e. either in the past or the future, as a projection of the past – diminishes our capacity to apply all of our conscious intention, wisdom, discernment, energy, motivation, focus, power and influence to positively affect the results that we want in our relationships and life.  We always have freewill, power and influence over any and all situations all of the time even if it doesn’t always feel like we do.  We are never victims to any situation, event, relationship, or individual, no matter how others are behaving towards us.  We always have a choice in how we interpret, feel, and respond to what unfolds.

When you consciously choose to release disempowering thoughts, feelings, emotions, and reactions that result from projections from the past, and that take you away from the present moment, you are empowered to implement the changes that you want to make.  And when you do that, you no longer feel stuck in the past and you start manifesting more and more of what you want in your relationships and life.

Understanding why we won’t let go

Releasing the past and refocusing your attention and energy in the present moment doesn’t mean that you’re suppressing or repressing your negative thoughts, feelings, emotions, and reactions. It means that you’re continually learning how to process them out optimally and permanently and that you’re using intentional focus management in order to stay on track with what you want most.  This process of refocus and change becomes possible when we become aware of the deep reasons why we might have been holding on, clinging, and not wanting to let go of the past.

When you go through this self-introspective process, you’ll find that the main reason why we don’t let go and keep re-referencing the past is because a part of us believes that holding onto the memories and pain of the past will somehow prevent it from happening again and thus keep us safe.  This process of fear conditioning and using fear to attain a sense of psychological safety doesn’t help us avoid it.  It actually increases the chance of the same event or situation happening again, or at least being perceived as such.

When we keep replaying the same movie inside our mind and emotionally reacting to it as if what had occurred in the past was still occurring right now, or could occur again in the future, we experience it as real.   This creates emotional reactivity, occupies our mind space, limits our processing bandwidth, puts us in a reactive projection mode, and prevents us from being more present and aware to what is happening right now.

In order to be agile, flexible, discerning, wise, conscious, and to respond optimally to any situation or event, it’s optimal for all of our energy and attention to be in the present moment and thus to let go of the past.

 Letting go of the past and focusing on our intentions

When we identify and let go of the fears that keep us holding on to the past, clinging to our pain, and creating additional suffering in our relationships and life, we become free to respond to any situation, relationship, or event as it is unfolding in the present moment using our conscious intention and what we wish to achieve.  In this way, we are no longer reacting to what has happened in the past and what we want to avoid (pain) or what we fear may not repeat (pleasure) and we become empowered to live with more joy, inner peace, love, success and creativity.  When we let go of the past, we become more alive to live the present moment!