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How to Let Go of the Past

Updated on September 23, 2014

In the 2013 American award-winning film, Frozen, the fictional character, Elsa, sings the well-renowned song loved by children and parents alike - "Let it Go." Resonating with passion and a hint of remorse, this charismatic song has captivated people of all ages, leaving them humming the tune, quoting the lyrics, and creating their own rendition. While computer animatists have perfected Elsa's scene to depict ease in letting the past go, it's well known that leaving the past behind takes more than just a few minutes of singing, dancing, and creating ice castles and snow shows. To move forward and begin new relationships with new partners takes time, patience, love, and a million more things, but most importantly - letting go of the past and all the hurt, guilt, and pain embedded in it.

Before delving into ways to let go of the past, it's important to note that leaving the past behind is not synonymous to forgetting the past. Learning from past mistakes gives you the power to step forward and begin a new chapter in your life. Let go of the relationship, keep the memories, let go of the negative feelings, and keep an open mind. The typical reaction when emerging from a broken relationship is to wallow in a deep, dark cave lined with misery, regret, and pain. Making yourself a permanent resident of this cave can lead to health issues, not just emotionally but physically as well. With this in mind, it's time to learn how you can distance yourself from the past and come back reinvigorated and willing to begin a new relationship.

First and foremost, you should change your perception about the past relationship. If self-hatred, plans of revenge, guilt, regret, and similar emotions are plaguing your thoughts and emotions, it's time to transform those negative feelings into something more positive. But how? Let's say you're angry at yourself for not spending enough time with her while you two were together. True, making that change might have sustained the relationship but what's past is past. Beating yourself up about it won't get her back and won't get the previously happy go-lucky you back either. Thus, shed some positive light on that self-hatred and remind yourself that nobody's perfect and contend yourself with the thought that all the hours spent not by her side and on work instead may have pushed you that much closer to the promotion you've always desired.

There are many ways you can eradicate the feelings previously mentioned and some other helpful methods are listed below:

  • Throw them away metaphorically: When those negative feelings begin to creep on you, grab some tennis balls to throw, pretending those are the destructive emotions. Or write the emotions that are suffocating you on a nearby piece of paper and then rip it into shreds. Releasing the pent-up emotions through physical energy is a great emotional outlet.
  • Put yourself in their shoes: If your anger is directed toward your ex-girlfriend, put yourself in their shoes. Compassion has the capability to dissolve many things, anger and hatred included.
  • Emotional outlet through words: Sometimes, telling yourself isn't enough to push down the negative feelings. Writing down the way you feel or allowing yourself a small time window to rant can do wonders to releasing unfavorable emotions or thoughts.

With those destructive emotions eradicated from your mind, it's time to start cultivating positive emotions. With the following methods, you can develop an open mindset that will make letting go of the past easier:

  • Toss those romantic tradegies away: Instead of bemoaning and sympathizing with characters in the same situation as you, turn to books and movies that are full of happiness and reflect the healthy self you want to be. Getting a laugh out of the multitude of comedy films can boost your happiness level immensely. Surrounding yourself with happy scenes and environments will allow joy to permeate inside you.
  • Get outside: Get outside of that desolate cave, your home, and the broken relationship. Taking a hike or visiting some tourist attractions will not only keep your mind from destructive emotions but allow for the growth of content, inspired, and wonderful thoughts.
  • Friends help you mend: Given your situation, friends and company may feel unwelcome, particularly right after a break-up. However, being next to others brings you one step closer to emotional recovery and prepares you for your next relationship as well.

Now that you're able to stem those feelings that have the potential to destruct both you and others around you, it's time to build yourself up again, and one of the best ways for doing that is learning from past mistakes. However, it's rather easy to slip back into 'phase one' and become lost in sorrow and misery. Beginning the climb back up is difficult but the methods described below can reduce the stress and difficulty:

  • Designate time for yourself: When you're stepping away from a past relationship, refinding the balance between 'me' time and 'family and friends' time can be difficult. Setting a time window just for yourself that is neither too long or too short can improve your situation. Using this time to reflect on the past and approach the past relationship from a neutral point-of-view can be calming and lead you to brainstorm ideas as to how you can improve yourself and your next relationship.
  • The good and the bad and everything in between: Keep the good memories lodged in your mind and use the bad memories as a catalyst to improving your character and manners. Improvement arises from many different sources and the past is a good foundation for building a new and improved building (a.k.a. a new relationship)
  • Discover a new passion: Though its nearly impossible to emerge unscathed from a broken relationship, remediating your broken heart can be relatively simple. Instead of just exploring new setting and destinations, exploring new passion and hobbies is important as well.

Whether you want to take the time to find yourself or prepare yourself for starting a new relationship with a new partner, you should always keep an open mind and not let the past weigh you down. If you're planning to initiate a new relationship, the woman will truly appreciate a man with no luggage that prevents him from being his one hundred percent self. Below are a few more options that can allow you to let go of your past and be the happy, healthy man you want to be:

  • Envision your future: There's the past and the present, but there's also the future. Considering where you want to be in ten years provides you with focus, initiative, and concentration which will keep you healthy, not to mention, a concentrated and dedicated man holds appeal to women.
  • Relax: Head to the saunas or relax your muscles with a massage to eliminate tension and stress both emotionally and physically. The chaotic schedule of day-to-day life can weigh you down and visiting one of these peaceful health and relaxation centers, may prove to be an ideal solution to remediating your stress and inner self.
  • Let the feelings flow: There are healthy feelings and unhealthy feelings. Containing the negative emotions and letting the positive thoughts and emotions spread throughout you will remind you that there's hope ahead and the past does not need to act as your shadow, following you, everywhere you go.

Let go of your past and embrace your future. With the above information in mind, you will develop an acute awareness of yourself, cultivate better relationships with others, and develop life-long lessons from the mistakes you previously made. Letting go is an important component of living life to the fullest. Drop the baggage and stand with your arms open to new opportunities and changes. When you live in the past, you're turning your head to the back, and you won't be able to see what's coming at you, good or bad. Taking time to appreciate yourself, your past, the present, and the near future will build admirable character within you. Stepping forward into the light of the future builds emotional and physical health, and perhaps, will have you singing the words to Frozen's "Let it Go" with a smile on your face, ready to embrace future opportunities.

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