Why Letting Go of the Past Is Crucial for Your Happiness and Mental Health

///Why Letting Go of the Past Is Crucial for Your Happiness and Mental Health

Letting go of the past is not only healthy. Sometimes, it is absolutely necessary. Being overly attached to your past stops you from enjoying the present and moving on with your life.

The past is important, it is part of us and it has formed us. The past should not be forgotten, it must be valued, accepted, and loved. Without all the good and bad life stages or events, we would not be who we are today, we would not know what we know about ourselves. However, sometimes, letting go of the past is necessary for us to move on with our life.

There are sensitive people who cannot easily get over their past. They simply cannot detach themselves, leave behind memories or people and meet what is coming their way with an open heart and mind.

No matter how beautiful or dark the past is, we must accept that we cannot change it and that it is best to overcome the pain and start living now. It is time to transform the past into priceless memories which we should “access” from time to time, only when it is absolutely necessary to do so.

“We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.”

Rick Warren

People who predominantly think of the past are often more conservative and concerned about maintaining a social status. They have difficulties accepting new experiences and are more likely to recreate past experiences.

Being nostalgic about the past, as well as being stuck in patterns that are no longer related to the present, prevents us from seeing, receiving and enjoying what has become our life today. The wealth of life is given by the experiences we went through and by the meaning we give them. For this reason, letting go of the past is important.

Could you be living in the past without even knowing it? Check out the signs below:

Recognize the Signs of Living in the Past

  • The absence of joy and sense of curiosity in doing what we once loved. It may indicate that it is probably time to find something that inspires us.
  • Fear of making changes, and instead, we just complain about the current situation. It is time to embrace these fears and act in ways that help us grow.
  • More feelings of sadness than of happiness. This probably has to do with a past toxic situation that we allow to consume our mind.
  • We focus more on things in the past rather than present or future.
  • Whatever happens to us now (good or bad) gives us feelings of boredom, resentment or compulsion.
  • We feel isolated from other people, we feel that we are not understood or accepted, we feel disfavored or disrespected. It means we are in the company of the wrong people. It is probably time to look for people who could inspire us and form new relationships.

Letting Go of the Past: How to Disconnect Yourself from the Past

1. Accept your past and focus on the positive

Accept what happened in your life, leave the past behind and seek reconciliation with yourself and other people. It is important to see what you gained and not what you lost. Whether we are talking about piano lessons, reading books, or holidays, all are today a part of you, so focus on them. The best way to honor what was beautiful in your past is to continue your journey focusing on what you can do from now on.

2. Learn to enjoy every day

The little pleasures of life mean to admire the sky, feel the taste of the coffee, smile at the people around you, be present and experience life to its fullest. The true beauty of life is actually in these simple everyday experiences.

3. Allow yourself to experience

Be curious and always try new foods, learn new information, visit new places, try a new hairstyle or, why not, a new career.

Why Is Letting Go of the Past Important?

1. You Risk to Repeat It

If you focus on the past, unconsciously, you will end up in similar situations. And yet, instead of building new visions for your future, you bombard your mind with the old images, beliefs and thoughts.

For a new reality, you need new thoughts, new images and new intentions. You cannot create them as long as you look behind you. And as long as you stay in the past, you cannot live your present nor create a better future.

2. Poor Mental and Emotional Health

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past;
If you are anxious, you are living in the future;
If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”

Lao Tzu

In a way or another, we all tend to be perfectionists and look at our past more with an analytical eye than with appreciation. We tend to think that maybe we SHOULDN’T have said/done certain things, we wonder WHY we had to meet certain people, etc.

All this criticism can make us unhappy about ourselves, can lower our self-esteem and make us feel as we are not good enough, smart or brave. While some will learn more about themselves, some risk to create emotional/mental imbalances, ruining their inner peace. Hence, depression and anxiety are likely to develop from regrets and resentments.

A depressed individual will feel unhappy about their life overall and unworthy of blessings. Moreover, one may feel guilty for what they are and unable to detach from the past. The future often scares depressed people because they have negative-anxious expectations. Letting go of the past and enjoying the present are difficult for them as they are always looking at the past experiences.

To avoid all this, letting go of the past is necessary.

3. You Risk to Ruin Your Future Relationships

Experiences are great teachers. We learn about ourselves, about our skills and how to communicate or connect with other people.

Negative experiences are usually rude and bitter awakening calls. Yet, it is unfair to treat new people based on ideas of how we should have treated those who caused us pain. In other words, each person must be given love, trust, patience and time regardless of how others made us feel.

Secondly, living in the past along with thinking of what you had is more likely to make you ignore the positive things and people you have in your life now. Focus on who is next to you at this moment and try to discover their qualities, love them for who they are.

4. Living in the Past Keeps the Stress Levels High

Resentment, anger, bitterness, and sadness will not set you free. Quit analyzing the past. After letting go of the past, you will notice that most of your current stress is caused by your thoughts and negative memories.

5. You Cannot Be in Control of Your Present

Being stuck in the past limits your visions. You cannot adopt new strategies that could help you fix, improve or cope with your current challenges, which could automatically lead to a chain of unfortunate events. Your life happens now and in order to progress, you need to be here and in this very moment.

“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today”

Will Rogers

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About the Author:

Andreea is a freelance writer who is deeply passionate about the wonders of life, emotions and psychology. Her motto is, "What comes easy won't last long and what lasts long won't come easy."

One Comment

  1. Gary Hynous June 18, 2018 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    Interesting blog. Our past is over and done with. We can’t change it and it’s certainly not healthy to worry about it. The fact is we all sometimes make wrong choices. Our ego driven mind tends to go over and over these circumstances trying to justify what we have done regardless of the outcome. We should try to learn from our mistakes. Repeating the same act over and over again hoping for a different result is a waste of time and energy. The future is a mystery in terms off things that may happen to us regardless of our wanting to move toward pleasure and away from pain. The Buddha had some insightful things to say about the cause of suffering. The present time, moment by moment, is all we really have and this is what we should focus on. Learn from your mistakes, focus on the present and don’t worry about the future. If you can live like this, you’ll be much happier.

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