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How to Let Go of the Past Once and for All

Updated on January 11, 2016

The past is something that haunts most people. It's supposed to be left behind and not looked back on, yet it creeps up in our everyday lives and refuses to let go. The past is full of could haves, should haves, would haves, and what ifs. Sometimes it becomes so overwhelming that is starts to affect our present and possibly future. So why does the past have such a strong influence on our lives?

I think one reason why the past is such a dominant force in our lives is because it is the only thing that is truly certain. For example, we think of the good times in the past and we know for sure they happened. No one can take away the memory of them and there is nothing that can change them. People hold on to the past because it brings them comfort. When the present is tough, the past can bring happiness and hope that things will get better because they were in fact better before. History tends to repeat itself, so the past brings comfort and reassurance when the present gets to be too much and the future is uncertain.

Unfortunately, constantly looking back into the past for comfort and guidance can hinder your progress in the present. Yes, the past had some good times that really truly happened, but remembering it won't bring it back or make the present any better. If you think about it, one minute ago was also the past. Tomorrow, we will look back on today and it will be part of the past. So a more effective way to make the past better is to make today better because tomorrow we'll look back on it and it will be the past.

Many people think of the past as the good old days when anything was possible. This goes to say that it isn't possible anymore because the good old days are gone. The truth is, any day can be a good day if we really want it to be. Life can throw obstacles and problems in our way but how we react to them is what will determine whether we will have a good day or a bad day. Life is all about perception and reaction. Any situation or problem is nothing without your reaction to it. You give it power which means you can also take away its power as well.

Another reason why the past can look so great is because hindsight is always 20/20. We have the benefit of hindsight when we look back on the past so of course the good times look even better and the bad times don't seem so bad. This is due to the fact that hindsight provides us with the outcome. Looking back, we already know how everything turned out and ended. For example, I used to think that 2009 was a bad year for me because of everything that happened. Looking back now though, it doesn't seem so bad. Compared with the issues I am going through now and the challenges I have overcome this year, I would take any problem from 2009 over the ones I have now. This is because I have the benefit of hindsight and the knowledge of the outcomes from 2009. At the time in 2009, I didn't have this knowledge and I thought I was having the worst year ever.

So what's a person to do when the present is challenging, the future is uncertain, and only the past brings any sort of comfort to an aching soul? The answer is to make the present as good as possible so that tomorrow that present becomes the gold old days of the past. The key is to live each day to the fullest while we still can. You don't want to look back on your life and have regrets about not doing things while you still could. People don't know when their time in this life will come to an end so it's of much benefit to take advantage of every day because they are certainly numbered. There is also the chance of illness that could prevent a person from doing all the things they had planned to in their life. It's important to do the things we want to do while we still can.

The past also holds everything negative that ever happened in our lives. That negative can oftentimes hold people back in the present and impact their future. The negative aspects of the past can bring fear, depression, anxiety and many other symptoms into people's lives. It's like baggage that we carry on our backs and the older we get, the heavier the load becomes because we accumulate a lot throughout our lives. Well, it's much easier to keep moving forward if we let go of the load and leave it behind. It's only hurting our backs and making our journey tougher. The good memories of the past are the light ones, while the negative are the most heavy. These are memories of being lied to, betrayed, cheated on, or abused. They are the ones to get rid of in order to make the journey more pleasant.

One way to let go of negative memories is to look at them as lessons. Hasn't every bad thing that ever happened to you taught you something? Even if it's to never make the same mistake twice. Now you know better and will never repeat that behavior again. If you look at past negative memories like lessons they will be easier to move on from. When you were in school and finished a lesson and took the test, did you then think about that lesson everyday after? No, you took the test and the probably forgot about it because you were moving on to the next lesson. How will you learn the next lesson, if the previous one is all that takes up space in your mind? You can't. This is how you should treat negative memories as well. They're lessons that you passed and you have moved on so that you can learn more lessons. You're also a little wiser now because you know what to watch out for next time.

Suddenly, your load is lighter because you left behind the heavy textbooks of the previous lessons you already know and taken the test on. You're looking forward and not back. You remember the good times in the past, but you know that the future holds even better experiences. You're happy with your life because you know that every single negative experience was a lesson and a blessing in disguise. You wouldn't be where you are now if you hadn't learned that lesson so you're thankful that you have.

The Butterfly Effect is one of my favorite movies. I remember going to watch it the first time in theaters and thinking how awesome it would be to go back in time and change things for the better. After watching the movie though, I had changed my mind. I saw how changing one thing in the past can change everything in the future. This includes the people in your life and the lessons you learn. Suddenly, the present didn't seem so bad. It's the one thing I could control in order to make the future better. If you remember the end of the movie, you know that the main character still meets the love of his life. This means that our destiny is the one constant even if the journey to it is different. So there's no point in looking back and trying to change the past because what's meant to be will always find its way.

Remember that what happens today becomes part of the past tomorrow. If you want to change the past, you have to change today, right now. It's okay to look back and reminisce, but don't let that become the focus of your life. The past is gone and it's not coming back. Lighten your load and get rid of the bad memories but keep the lessons that they taught you. Life is like a zebra because it has white and black stripes. The white stripes are the good years and experiences and the black stripes are the tough and challenging. The important thing to remember is that it never stays the same. Life is constantly changing, and if it can get really bad then it surely can get really good too. Find a good balance of past and present in your life to make it the best it can be. Remember, it is much easier to travel on the journey of life with a lighter load.

Holding On And Letting Go by Ross Copperman

© 2014 GreenEyes1607


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