Have you ever been told to move on from the past, let it go, forget about it? Well, for a very long time, friends and colleagues would say to me ‘move on, get over it, forget about the past, you have to let it go’. It’s so easy for people to say, but incredibly difficult for an individual to do. We have invested a lot in the stories of our pasts; emotions, opinions, judgments, grievances and injustices, tears and so on. Most importantly however is the meaning we have created from those experiences.
I wanted to share with you a few tips I’ve learnt along the way about the past and how to move on forward from it. Personally, what I needed from my past was to understand it, question it, hate it and learn to love it. I also needed to connect the dots, put the jigsaw pieces together and along the way accept, forgive, learn to love and live in the present moment. As I say, life is a lifetime’s work and I’m not 100% there yet but I’m definitely a helleva way away!
So, how do you move on from the past?
Each of us is at a different stage of associating into the past so I do hope that at least one or two of the tips are useful to you today.
- It’s super important to set the intention to learn from the past and let go. In between the ‘learn from the past’ and ‘let go’ is life’s journey; You may need to learn how to forgive, accept, challenge, acknowledge anger, resentment, sadness, grief etc before you can get to the stage where you are accepting of the past and able to allow it to happen. Like I say, life is a lifetime’s work, who said we could live a happy, prosperous life in a day?
- Think about whether you can make the past a friend of yours-something that you can respect, care for, nurture, find compassion for, see the funny side of it and not take so seriously all the time. Decide that you are going to make the past a friend of yours and that you will no longer be held back from living in the present moment.
- If you’re asking Why? Stop. It’s a question that I call a spiral question as you could ask it a million times and find reasons over and over again, or equally nothing at all. (Think about children asking their siblings/parents why over and over again!) It is what it is. It’s happened and done now. Ask yourself what you can learn, what the purpose is and take it from there instead.
- Think about a lighthearted event from your past, such as a job interview or a minor disagreement with someone. Write down the facts as they are, and ask What knowledge did I gain about myself? What was the purpose? What was I possibly being shown? What will I do differently next time?
- Live in the present moment by noticing and being mindful of different things that are around you ONLY IN THAT MOMENT. For example, the music that may be playing in the background (my spontaneous reaction is usually ‘I love that song!!’), what people are wearing, the beauty of the changing nature around you, i.e. the direction of the wind, the cold drops of rain (or lukewarm, sometimes!), notice beauty around you and so on. The more you enjoy the present, the more the past becomes less important.
- Choose to make your past your friend; It’s happened and there is no need to make it an enemy-it’s all done and, whether we like it not, is not going anywhere. Treat your past with respect, seek knowledge from it and realise that the past is not going to be around forever; it’s temporary. In fact, have you noticed, it’s already gone?
- Listen to yourself when you are speaking and notice when you are speaking in the past tense-I/She/He did that, I/She/He said, I/She/He used to, I/She/He had, I/He/She went etc. There is a feeling in your body when you speak about something in the past; Be mindful of what that feeling is as the less you like it, the more you’ll start speaking in the present or future tense!
- Let go of the past each day by acknowledging more of who you have become because of those experiences and thanking it for being a part of your life experience.
One of the answers that I have come up with is that the purpose of the past is to teach us, to show us a way to learn a personal development lesson in order to grow and evolve as a person. Take the personal growth lessons and become the example of your lessons, one day at a time even if it takes you a lifetime. Just a little something I say to myself occasionally: ‘Thank you past for being my favourite teacher. It’s time to leave you there; time to take a deep breathe into the present and step into an exciting future.
What does this post inspire you to do? Have you got any other suggestions to offer other readers?
Excerpt taken from 101 Ways To Overcome Almost Anything, due for publication Summer 2014. Leila Khan is a certified Master Practitioner of NLP and helps professionals to enhance their personal and professional development.