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Past Is Only A Picture

Updated on September 20, 2014
Past is only a picture to glimpse at and then file away.
Past is only a picture to glimpse at and then file away.

I was once told that it's okay to look at the past but don't stare at it. I found those words liberating, me being a person who was always focusing on my past issues. The past is a great source of good information that can help us today and even help others. However, I feel focusing too much on it whether good or bad takes away from the present. There are many reasons why people hold on to the past; unfinished business, drama, not wanting to face today’s reality, which gets us stuck. This is when we let the past hurt us, instead of help us. So how do we let go, that is the question.

How Do We Let Go?

To get that answer, I believe we have to investigate why we rely on the past. Allow ourselves to feel our feelings whenever we remember an event. Doing so will give us an understanding why we keep going back to that memory. I feel it's good to share our past stories because they are a part of who we are. However when we stare at the past, focus and rely on it, then we're living in our own minds and getting stuck on emotions, then bringing them to life. We get trapped living in an imaginary world and repeating the same drama in our heads. Joel Osteen says "When something is over and done, let it go and move on to the next chapter in your life”. When we hold on to the past we're not allowing new things to enter our lives. We need to start our new chapter because all we're doing is re-reading old pages from the previous chapter, over and over again.

Once you're aware about why you're holding on to the past, you can do something about it.
Once you're aware about why you're holding on to the past, you can do something about it.

How do we know we’re stuck in the past?

  • If you talk a lot about the past
  • If you think about what should of been
  • If you always bring up mistakes you did or others
  • Are you depressed because of a past drama?
  • Do you feel stuck?
  • Fixated on past events or phases of your life

These are just a few warnings signs that I've noticed in myself and others, of when we focus too much on the past. Also, if you feel like no changes have happened in a long time, whether it’s behaviors, feelings, relationships and you keep repeating the same mistakes over and over, its a sign of being stuck in the past.

How To Get Unstuck | Iyanla Vanzant

Life Coach Iyanla Vanzant

5 ways of getting unstuck

  • Tell the truth
  • Let go of excuses
  • Be vulnerable
  • Ask for help
  • Forgiveness

What can you do to get unstuck from the past?

  • Forgiveness of your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and judgments of others
  • Forgiving others who harmed you
  • Allowing yourself to feel and accept those emotions connected to a memory
  • Letting go and letting God (as we understand Him)
  • Read books on forgiveness
  • Writing about your past to release emotions that are tie to them
  • Viewing past as thoughts, that you don’t have to focus on
  • Accepting past as a learning experience
  • Using the past as a reference source only
  • Sharing your experiences to help others when asked
  • Keeping in mind the present moment is reality and past is only a picture
  • If you feel stuck from past events, memories and emotions then seeking professional help is always a good choice.

What kind of approach would you take to get unstuck from the past?

See results

These are just a few suggestions that I have done and have helped me. I am not a professional therapist therefore I but can only share my personal experiences and findings that have helped me. You can take what you like and leave the rest. There is no wrong or right on the healing process. If you noticed forgiveness is in the forefront and that's because it has given me a new perspective on my past. Also, personally I sought therapy, read books on forgiveness and letting go. Moreover, writing has allowed me to learn more about myself and my situations. We all had our individual experiences therefore we’ll have our individual ways of healing.

Forgiveness Helps Heal Past

For me forgiveness was an important step for me. Moreover, forgiveness of not only others but ourselves. I know it may be hard to even think about forgiving yourself if you were a victim of past trauma. Especially if someone harmed you, you have every right to feel hurt and pain. However we continue to be victims by reliving the abuse that happened to us. What we need to do is forgive our minds and our continuous thoughts that take us back to being victims. We're not victims anymore but our thoughts make us feel like one, therefore we believe we still are. In the past we were helpless but now we’re adults and aware, we can regain control of our thoughts and lives. Forgiving ourselves is a powerful step because it teaches us that we're in control of our own happiness because it's up to us to let go of those thoughts. We have the strength to regain our lives by forgiving ourselves for having those beliefs and thoughts that kept us stuck. I plan on writing an article about forgiveness but I’ll get into a little bit here since it relates to letting go of the past.



Healing is the gift forgiveness gives us.  When we forgive others we heal, grow and move on.  We're free to love and receive it.
Healing is the gift forgiveness gives us. When we forgive others we heal, grow and move on. We're free to love and receive it.

Forgiving Others Is A Gift For You

Forgiving others is just as challenging and it can’t happen overnight but if you’re seeking peace and growth this is a crucial step. Forgiving others is not about them, it’s a gift for you. It’s putting your guards down and allowing love to come in, to reach you because love is what heals. You deserve love therefore forgiveness unblocks the clog that prevents us from receiving it. As hard as it may seem, we have to look at our abuser as a person who was in pain and hurt therefore caused us harm because that's all they had to offer. It doesn't mean you have to be their friend and it is not an excuse but it’s a window for us to let in compassion. If we have anger towards another, we then built walls and nothing comes in for us to receive. The anger and fear guards us, keeping everything out including the good. Healing is the gift forgiveness gives us. Us humans hurt ourselves and each other, most of the times it’s unintentionally, we’re not aware of our own pain therefore we project it unto others. Even intentional harm is projected from our subconscious, unaware anger, fear and pain. Forgiving harm done to us is a beginning of healing and letting go of the past. Keep in mind all forgiveness is a gift for us only, it has nothing to do with the other person.


Today Is What Matters

I feel past challenges are all test for us to forgive ourselves and others. It’s about living and learning and letting go of the old and creating the new. The past is gone only leaving images that we can look at to help us heal and then put away. Also the past can show us fun times, happy memories we can share and then put them away, to allow today to be in front view. Everything is new when you live in the present. I know some of our greatest times were when we were younger; when we were free. However, the "present" is what will set you free because the past is only in our minds.

Let's create some great times now, with the life we have now.



I opened a fortune cookie once and it read "Your happiness is before you, not behind you! Cherish it."~Unknown


"You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present." ~Jan Glidewell


"One problem with gazing too frequently into the past is that we may turn around to find the future has run out on us." ~Michael Cibenko

"There is no distance on this earth as far away as yesterday." ~Robert Nathan, So Love Returns

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