How to let go of the past
A friend recently asked me "how do I move on from mistakes I have made or when another person has hurt me?" Being hurt, making a mistake or hurting another is an inevitable part of life. No one gave us a manual on how to be perfect, how to meet other people's expectations or, for that matter, how to read people's minds! We all do our best, but sometimes things turn out wrong. Making a mistake is one thing, but moving on is another....
I have thought much about this question - moving on is not always easy. Often we would prefer to stay angry, aggrieved or upset - just to make a point! However, staying in this place long term is not healthy for you or others around you.
1. Judging and beating yourself up is bad for your health. It also prevents you from being happy and enjoying life.
2. No matter how you try to hide it, your unhappiness will reflect in your behavour, attracting more negative situations to you and adding to your grievances.
Ask yourself this question: "If I continue beating myself up or holding onto this grievance, what sort of person will I be like in 10 years time?" Think of other people you know who are like this - what are they like and who do they become? Will you become a joyful, loving person with lots of friends? Or will you become a bitter, angry and suspicious person who drives people away from you?
So you have a choice to make. Do you hold onto the grievance (against yourself or other), or do you let it go? What would it take for you to have inner peace and happiness? Take a look at Oprah's video below.
1. I think it is important to realise we cannot always know the reason why something has happened. The struggle to know why can drive you crazy with obsessive thinking, digging around, making up stories and assumptions. Maybe sometime in the future you might come to know why, but let go of the pursuit of it. Looking for the reason now just keeps you in emotional turmoil and locks you in the past.
2. Find a way to release the emotions around your experience - it could be an emotional release process like Emotional Freedom Technique, The Journey, or seek out a counselor, psychodrama session or something of similar ilk.
3. Release your mind. Now its over to brain training. For however long you have been thinking about this experience or situation, its now time to get out of the habit. Every time you think about it, you put more energy into it, emotions get stirred up again and you go back to where you started from. Every time you think of the past, stop yourself. Put some love around the whole situation and imagine it floating away from you. Put it into the hands of Divine Intelligence, the Secretary of the Universe or a Benevolent Being if you like - and leave it there, its not your problem. Now spend a few minutes thinking of the things you are grateful for and move into an activity to distract you. This begins a new habit.
Think of it this way: you have two different mouths to feed - the old habit or the new one. You get to choose! The mouth you feed wins.
Its not your job to punish yourself or others. People learn their lessons in their own time, through life experience. Sometimes they don't learn their lesson in this lifetime. Other people's lessons are not up to you to teach them. What is important is that you move on to being the best person you can be, incorporating the lesson that you have learnt. I love this saying: "Haven't you punished yourself enough - isn't it time to do something different?" There comes a point where you have done enough time in the prison of your mind and you get to leave jail to start a new life. You decide when. Start your new life. Don't limit yourself and make yourself a small, bitter or an angry person just because something went wrong. Be the best person you can be because you learnt something the hard way.
My final suggestion on this matter is to look in the direction you want to go to. Don't look back into the past. Through your pain, you will find out what you really want in your life. You keep re-defining yourself to get better and better. Keep focused on what you really do want to have this time around.
Take a look at Oprah's video called "There are no mistakes".
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Elayne Lane is an instructor of the Universal Healing Tao. She has been teaching and doing bodywork in excess of 20 years.