Do your friends and loved ones implore you to stop living in the past?
Are there things about your past that you can’t stop thinking about? Maybe it was something you said or did or an aspect of your upbringing. Or maybe it was something painful and awkward, or something that broke your heart. Perhaps it was something someone did to you, or how an unexpected event harmed you, or how your mistakes affected you.
But living in the past like that isn’t productive. The past is set in stone. There’s no method of time travel available for you to use – and, if there was one, trust us when you say you wouldn’t want to take it. You’d be a totally different person if you stop living in the past!
But what is next? How can you move on?
Here Are 7 Ways To Stop Living In The Past
1. Take Responsibility
Being stuck in the past can sometimes mean refusing to take responsibility for the things that have happened to you. You remember the mistakes you’ve made and the hurt those decisions have caused, and instead of admitting your part in the error, you replay them again and again in your head, blaming everything but yourself.
Try to locate the lesson you can learn from this, instead. What did you do that led to this? How can you prevent it from happening next time? How can you make the most of your situation now? Nine times out of 10, there’s a way you’re avoiding your role in the debacle!
Yes, people can indeed wrong you, and sometimes, they are indisputably at fault. Yes, it’s also true that bad situations and emergencies can come out of nowhere, and there’s no way to prepare for or prevent them.
But in those situations, it is your responsibility, too, to get back up again. It is your responsibility to process and overcome those emotions, and take the steps necessary to get to that goal, even if it’s incredibly difficult. These adverse circumstances and people should not have power over you. Strengthen yourself and redirect your energy to being kind to yourself and others instead.
2. Make New Memories In The Present
If all you have are bad memories from the past, that means it’s time to push them aside and focus on making new memories. How can you change the way you think, so you live in your everyday life, not in the life you used to know? Studies have even found that memories can prevent the creation of new ones!
While new memories won’t necessarily make you forget the past, they can override it, making you realize that there can be more to life than what has happened before. It makes you think of the fact that the power is in your hands to make new memories! Learning to live in the moment can be a big step in doing this. You can do so by:
- Learning new hobbies or skills that can focus your efforts on new goals
- Exercising to release positive hormones and keep your body healthy
- Meditating to practice mindfulness and existing in your mind at the moment
- Establishing routines, which will boost sleep effectiveness and positive thinking
- Going out with friends to stay social and interactive
- Making new friends to widen your social circle and learn new, current perspectives
3. Process Past Emotions
Emotional processing is a skill that we often take for granted. You may think you’re “over” something. Still, because of not processing your feelings correctly, you wind up accidentally bottling up old emotions, which will subconsciously affect your actions and how you think.
Unprocessed emotions can lead to a lot of baggage, including ones that cause fear and anxiety in you for reasons you can’t fathom. Here are some ways to process past emotions:
· Confront them
Admit the feelings to yourself, or even to someone else. Realize how certain events made you feel and why. Validate yourself, too; it’s okay that you felt this way.
· Write about them
Get a journal and fill it with thoughts about your emotions, expressing yourself freely with no limits and no filter. Journals provide positive effects on post-stress processing. You can also write a letter to yourself or to a person who wronged you, really letting it all out. But remember, don’t send the message!
· Pinpoint the way they affect you
How are these old emotions still influencing your everyday life and the world? Often, realizing how much the past is dragging you down can be the push you need to work in earnest to get out of that headspace.
· Talk about them
Speak to a friend, family member, colleague, or another person you can trust. You can even visit a therapist, counselor, or similar mental health professional. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Remember, you don’t need a mental disorder or condition to see an expert in the field.
For many people, forgiveness is a crucial part of their journey to moving on from the past. It’s a form of closure that clearly says, “The people who have wronged me no longer influence me.” Holding grudges, especially for relatively non-serious issues, can be harmful to you and those around you.
But do remember that forgiveness is never 100% necessary. If there are people you cannot bring to forgive due to the horrifying nature of their actions, it is okay not to. In that situation, instead of forgiveness, strive for peace. This event happened to you, but it no longer affects you, and that person becomes meaningless to you. Don’t forget. You also need to forgive yourself, not just other people. To do so both ways, you can:
Think of yourself as if you were a much-loved friend or family member. Would you be as harsh on them as you are on yourself?
Don’t keep score of your wrongs or the wrongs of those around you. To err is human. People will harm you again. You will make decisions you don’t stand by later. You will make mistakes. That’s just how it is!
Realize that you can control your reactions, even if you can’t control the initial action. If someone wrongs you, you get to choose how to respond. And if bad things happen, you get to decide how you’ll react. If you make mistakes, you get to choose how to bounce back.
5. Consider The Company You Keep
Look around you. Who are the kinds of people you hang out with? Consider how many of them:
- Are from pasts that haunt you to this day?
- Tend to be cynical about everything?
- Always, intentionally remind you of your part?
- Cause you to feel worse after hanging out with them?
- Are consistently blaming you or others for everything that happens to them?
If you have a lot of friends who match this description, then it may be time for you to find a better circle of friends.
Some friends may stay on the fence, and some you may need to cut off, and some you may be able to tolerate. Regardless, seek to broaden your social circle! Attend local meetings, go for classes, connect with people online, join clubs. The possibilities are endless! New friends can help you:
- Find new perspectives and opinions
- Choose to be surrounded by more people who use positive thinking
- Find friend groups that lift each other up
- Socialize, which has positive effects on your mental health and life expectancy
6. Start On Something New
A great way to shed your past is to concentrate thoroughly on something brand new. When you do this, you allow your brain to turn its focus to what’s in front of you. There are new things right now, and they’re more exciting and stimulating, and they represent a change for the better in its purest form. You can start on a new:
- Fashion style
- Cooked meal
- Dining location
- Shopping location
- Daily routine
- Daily habit
You should also work on planning new goals. Since that incident in your past, how have your goals changed? Are they now outdated? If so, what do you change them to? Then, once you’ve found your new purpose, break it up into smaller goals, and put your passion into bringing those goals to fruition!
Plus, doing new things can fill you with a sense of fulfillment that allows you to be happy living in the now. Once you feel that peace and joy, you won’t want to go back to the past anymore!
7. Focus On Things You Can Change
You’ve spent so much time mulling over something that you cannot change. The past is the past. It’s done and dusted. What you need now is a focus on the present, but that’s much easier said than done.
A lot of times, we linger on the past because we desire some form of control over it. But there’s no controlling it, so what can you do? Control real things in your present life that are changeable, of course! For example:
- Seeking a better job
- Moving to a better neighborhood or house
- Create a positive habit to follow
- Reorganize your home
- Complete a task you’ve been putting off
For simpler things, you can even take control of seemingly arbitrary and shallow aspects of your life. They sound silly, but they really can work! For example:
- Get a new haircut or change your hair color
- Paint your nails
- Dramatically redecorate an area of your house
Your past has made you who you are today. It’s brought you the ups and the downs. Changing it would change the fabric of your being, and you don’t want that!
Final Thoughts On Some Ways To Stop Living In The Past
When you live in the past, you deprive yourself of your potential. You rob yourself of joy, of the life you deserve, and of the people who could be there for you. And let’s face it, no one wants to be stuck that way forever.
The past has already had such a profound and long-lasting impact on you, and that impact will likely never indeed fade away. But isn’t it time that it stopped dictating your every single action and your everyday life? Take back your power and control! Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and look to the present!