Letting go of the past is something that we all must do to move into the future. However, it can be a tough thing to so. Sometimes, we may not be consciously aware of how much the hurts from the past have caused us to be paralyzed and stuck in the past. It helps to periodically take inventory of where we are in life and discover if we are holding on to any past hurts. Here is a list of 40 ways to let go of the hurts and pain of the past.
1. Let the child in you scream out loud
Find a place where you can be alone. Allow yourself to feel the emotional pain that you’ve bottled up for years. Get a pillow and bury your head in it or jump into a pool so you can scream to the top of your lungs. A lot of the people singing at the traffic light do so because they don’t give themselves permission to sing at home. Just let go and don’t worry about who’s watching.
2. Watch an emotional movie
Movies are enjoyable because we often connect with the characters on the screen. When we allow ourselves to get lost in the story, the characters pull out emotions within us that we have buried and forgotten. Before long, we are crying before the movie is over. Let go and watch a film.
3. Write a letter to the person who hurt you
We can’t always speak to the person who caused us pain, but we can write a letter to them. The process of writing the letter lets us tell the person exactly how we feel. When we write down how we feel, it becomes the first step on the healing journey. It is okay if you decide not to mail the letter. You can still let go of the pain.
4. Burn the hurt
Write the name of the person or thing that hurt you on a piece of paper. Drop the paper into an aluminium pan. Then, set it on fire. All the past hurts and pains are set on fire. The only thing that is left will be the ashes. You will be able to take those ashes and bury them in the sand or toss them in the sea.
5. Accept people for who they are
Many of us spend a considerable amount of time trying to change people. We won’t admit it, but it’s true. We want to help them improve. For some reason, we think we can help them change when no one else has. When we spend so much time trying to change someone else’s life that it hurts us, we need to let it go and accept them for who they are.
6. Accept that things may never change
Wanting things to change and wishing that they change will not cause them to change. What usually makes things change is doing something about them. However, there are some situations that we can do nothing about. It is not within our power to do anything. In these situations, the best thing to do is to accept that things may never change. The acceptance of the truth will help us let go of the pain of wanting something that will not happen.
7. Decide to be good to yourself
It’s a known fact that many people take better care of others than they take care of themselves. This is especially true of women. Husbands, children, and parents often hold first place in their lives. Putting yourself last can lead to extra stress because your needs never get met. So, be kind to yourself. Do one thing for yourself that you have been putting off for a later day.
8. Stop being angry
Being angry and holding grudges takes more energy than it does to forgive. Remaining mad at another person does more harm to you than it does to the other person. Some people may find your anger amusing and will go out of their way to try to make you angry. When you do not allow their actions to control you, it will help you let go of the pain.
9. Take deep breaths
One of the ways to leave the past and focus on the present is through mindful breathing. All day long our minds are concentrating on what happened in the past and what will happen in the future. When we stop to think about the here and now, we realize there is nothing we can do about the past because it’s over. The future hasn’t happened yet, no matter how much we prepare for it. Breathe.
10. Get a massage
If you have a long stressful week and feel like your body is in a ball of knots, consider getting a massage. A massage can help you relax and relieve physical aches and pains. It can also help relieve mental pain. We are emotionally affected by things that hurt us physically. We also can also have physical pain from something that is hurting us emotionally. Get a massage and let go of stored tension and other hurts.
11. Write a book
Writing helps us process our emotions. We all have a unique story. Some of our stories are full of enormous pain from the past. If you don’t deal with that pain, it can keep playing over and over in our minds. Writing a book can sometimes help rewrite the story and help us deal with the pain in the process. Let go of the pain by restoring the past and writing a new future.
12. Write a journal
Writing a journal can be therapeutic. You don’t have to worry about someone judging you for your feelings or the things you say. Your journal is not going to talk back to you. Writing a journal also helps you process how you feel. When you read what you wrote, you may discover that the subject wasn’t as serious as you thought. Once you’ve finished writing your journal entry, you can close the book on that subject.
13. Face your fears
Some past hurts can be so painful that we don’t want to face them. It’s understandable if we don’t want to face things in the beginning, especially when the emotional wound is fresh. The human body has a way of protecting itself. At times, that protection can manifest as avoidance of the things that hurt us. This creates short-term healing. To make sure the pain leaves for good, we must face the fear.
Many people will admit that they don’t want to exercise, but they feel much better afterward. They have more energy and sleep better at night. Exercising also helps to reduce stress. Worry and discomfort of all these physical symptoms can, in turn, lead to even more pressure, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body.
15. Speak up
If we saw our parents yell at each other because they were angry, most likely screaming is what we will do when we are mad. If they stopped talking to each other out of anger, then we suppress our feelings and stop talking to the person who hurt us. Holding our emotions can be unhealthy. It could also lead to depressions. Learning to express the way we feel healthily gives us the opportunity to have open and honest communication with another person.
16. Make new friends
Unfortunately, people who hurt us in the past will continue to beat us in the future if we allow them to do so. The person may make promises to repeat past behavior, but those are often unfulfilled promises. The best thing we can do is to protect ourselves by staying away from those individuals. Making new friends will keep away from toxic persons and help us to heal from the past.
17. Say how you really feel
Sometimes people do things to hurt us, and we don’t say anything to them about how we really feel. Not only do we hide our true feelings from others, but we also minimize our feelings with ourselves. Owning how we feel, allows us to face the pain. Feeling the pain allows us to heal from the pain. It’s time to stop pretending with others, stop lying to ourselves, and start saying how we really feel.
When you forgive someone, it doesn’t mean that you forget what was done. It merely means you no longer hold onto the harm that the person did to you. Unforgiveness has been described as drinking poison when we intend to cause pain to someone else. Instead of harming the other person we end up killing ourselves. Let go of the hurt by forgiving.
19. Expect good things to happen
Your worst nightmare does not always have to come true. When we expect bad things to happen, we usually end up doing something to help facilitate it. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
20. Understand that things will change
We must realize that nothing stays the same forever. In time, everything changes. When we resist change, it can cause us pain. When that resistance is persistent and lasts over a period, it can result in depression. One of the reasons for our resistance to change is fear. If we embrace the change and treat life like an adventure, it can be exciting. So, let go of the pain and get excited about the change.
21. Realize that you are not in control
It is easy to think that if we were in control, we could stop bad things from happening to us. The truth is that we are not in control. Trying to control something that we can’t be the cause of our pain in the beginning. When we believe we can determine how things will turn out, we are not living in reality. Let go of the stress of trying to be in control all the time.
22. Allow yourself to feel your emotions
When we don’t allow ourselves to feel our emotions, we live in denial. It can be fearful to face certain things, because we may think the pain will be too much to bear. In reality, not facing the pain is too much. The pain that we suppress can manifest itself in physical ailments that we don’t realize are associated with emotional distress. Let go of the pain by allowing yourself to feel your emotions.
23. Learn from the pain
Anxiety can be a powerful teacher. No matter what happens in our lives, good, or bad, there is a lesson to be learned. Right after the occurrence of a bad situation may not be the best time to try and figure out what we were supposed to learn from it. However, as time passes and we have had a chance to process what occurred, we may see that things that we thought were bad, actually turned out to be good for us.
24. Go outside and play
Playing outside is not just for children. Adults also benefit from spending time outside. Nature can be an excellent therapist. Whether it’s a walk in the park, a walk along the beach, or a hike in the mountains, it will be good for the soul. Being in nature can help us forget the pain or gain a new perspective. Feel the fresh air and become rejuvenated. Let go of the pain by going outside to play.
25. Eat healthier
We can’t take care of just one part of our bodies. As we focus on our pain of the past, we can easily overlook the obvious things that we neglect. We may not want to admit it, but we often ignore our bodies by eating poorly. When we eat a healthier diet, it affects our minds to help us think more clearly, which could lead to letting go of the past pain.
26. Learn to rest
The memories of the past could cause them to experience anxiety or have nightmares. Not getting a good night sleep can have other health consequences. If there are unresolved issues from the past, we should seek counselling from a professional to help work through the pain. A professional will also be able to suggest ways to relax so they can sleep or prescribe medication if necessary. Let go of the pain by learning to rest.
27. Keep it simple
Living a complicated life can be very stressful. When we are involved in too many things, it can be hard to give the proper attention to everything and everyone. We may be following the example of our parents or someone else in our life. If we stop and think, we may be able to identify some past pain caused by others whose lives were complicated. Stop and evaluate what we are doing and why. Keep it simple.
Learn how to live small, even if we have big things. Big houses and big cars don’t always bring happiness. Living an extravagant lifestyle could cause our lives to be more painful. Along with the big house comes a big mortgage. The big cars have big car payments. Maintaining this type of lifestyle requires big careers with big salaries. We can end up working just to maintain the things when we could have more happiness and less pain if we downsize.
29. Be compassionate
Thinking about ourselves and the things that hurt us in the past all the time can allow the pain to continue. If we care about and be compassionate towards others, it will help us to be able to heal from our past. We will discover that the pain we experienced may not have been as devastating as the painful things that happened to others. We can be more grateful for our lives when we allow yourself to be more compassionate towards others.
30. Name the issue
Talking about the pain of the past can be fearful. So, we do everything to avoid it. That past hurt, or pain becomes the elephant in the room. Even though everybody sees it and knows that it is there, we treat it as if it is invisible. The best thing to do to take away the power of the elephant is to face it and name it. By naming it, we put it into its proper perspective. Reduce the size of the elephant.
31. Prayer makes a difference
Prayer makes a difference in our lives. If you want to let go of the hurt and pain of the past, try prayer. No matter what you believe in, it involves a power that is higher than you. Regardless of your faith tradition, it will include praying to a force that is higher than you. If you have expended all your best efforts and things have not changed, perhaps, it’s time to pray.
32. Do something different
Someone said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. For some people, the reason they are not free from past hurts is that they continue to experience the same behavior over and over. Establishing new habits are not always easy. However, it is worth the effort to be free of the pain of the past. Let go and do something different.
33. Learn to laugh
No one is perfect. You are going to make mistakes. When you laugh at yourself, you will discover that other people will laugh with you and not at you. To be able to laugh at yourself, you must have a healthy view of yourself and what life means to you. When people are not free to laugh and have fun, they often walk around each other on eggshells, which causes a lot of stress. Learn to laugh.
See also: daringtolivefully.com/how-to-laugh-more
34. Learn to be patient
Being in a hurry all the time and getting nowhere can cause a tremendous amount of stress in our lives. Learning to slow down and remain calm, can reduce stress and amount of pain we will experience. How you respond while standing in long lines at the grocery store or being stuck in traffic will help us determine how we manage stress. Regardless of how much we want things to change, we must understand that nothing will happen before time.
35. Educate yourself
We can experience pain from the past because we don’t understand what certain things mean or how we have been affected by them. Some things happen in our families such as alcoholism, abuse, mental illness, or some physical illnesses that could be passed on from one generation to the next. When we become educated about these subjects, we can take the precautions to ensure that they are not duplicated in the future.
36. Let go of having to be right
We must understand that no one knows everything. No one is going to be right all the time. When you make a mistake, learn from it and do better the next time. Dwelling on past mistakes causes us to dwell in the pain of the past. Let it go.
37. Know that you did your best
We experience pain sometimes because we are disappointed in our accomplishments. We may think that we should have done more. If we didn’t do what we thought we should have, we could experience shame. There comes a time when you have to let go and know that you have done your best and let go of the unnecessary pain.
38. Give yourself permission to be afraid
We must allow ourselves to be human. Fear is a normal feeling. Sometimes fear is the thing that protects us from harm. It is also normal to feel anxious about some things. Our society sometimes makes us think that there is something is wrong with us if we experience these emotions. Permit yourself to be afraid.
39. Forgive when it’s time to forgive
Forgiveness is important, but forced forgiveness can be harmful. As you process the pain from the past hurt, you will know when it is time to forgive. Society and some religions push people into forgiving someone prematurely. When we force forgiveness, it can do more harm because it could cause revictimization. Forgive to get rid of the past pain but forgive when it is time to forgive.
40. Let go of the idea of having to let go
Don’t just let go of the pain but let go of the idea of letting go. Just practice good self-care and live life the best that you can. Having to let go is not something you need to consciously think about all the time. Start letting go of that and see how your life can change!
There they are. 40 ways you can let go and move on no matter what you’re holding on to. Keep a journal, write down your feelings and progress as you work through all your favourite tips. Which of these 40 would you commit to today?
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