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Stop Living in Reverse: Letting Go of the Past

letting go of the pastDon’t you want to keep moving forward with your life?

How many times are you going to play that scenario over in your head? It’s like your rehearsing for a part.

What good is it doing you anyway? The likelihood of the exact same thing happening again so that you can correct your mistake is next to none. And you can’t turn back time so just let it go.

You’re just wasting your time focusing on all the wrong things. It’s no wonder everything else ahead of you keeps falling apart.

When you can’t let go of the past it always has a negative effect. The problem is you’re too preoccupied mentally with what happened before. You keep your mind in a place where you are constantly reliving past failures and disappointments.

It destroys your confidence because you are continually reminding yourself of the time you messed up, with no acknowledgement of better memories.

Your attitude leaves much to be desired. How can you feel good about yourself when you’re doing something that can only make you feel bad?

Also, not being able to let go of the past takes away from your future. You can’t completely focus on what’s going on right now because you’re not present.

Oh sure, you’re here physically, going through the motions. But mentally, you’re back to that place, that time, that whole situation. It’s all you can think about.

After spending all this time on it you’d think things would be better, like you’re gaining something from it, but you’re not. Even after all it has cost you, nothing is better.

That’s exactly why you need to start moving forward with your life.

Don’t think for a second that just because something awful happened to you in the past that you still can’t have a bright future because you most certainly can.

Your future doesn’t have to look anything like your past. In fact, they can be polar opposites if you can learn that letting go of the past is the answer. Leave the pain and burden behind you, where it belongs.

Allow yourself to be free to live the life you deserve.

Try these tips when letting go of the past seems difficult:

Talk it out

When something bad happens and it’s hard to take in, talk it out with someone you trust. Make sure it’s someone you feel completely comfortable with so you can express your feelings fully.

If you feel like screaming let it out, if you’re getting choked up have a cry. It’s okay to let these emotions out, you need to. Bottling them up only leads to uncontrollable and irrational outbursts, which would only give you another thing to get caught up on, putting you right back where you started.

Sometimes I just need to vent to get things out. Talking also helps to put things into perspective. If there is anything to be taken from the whole experience, I typically figure it out this way. Making it that much easier to let it go, because I learned the lesson.

Once you’ve discussed it and gotten what you need from it, release it.

Put it on paper

You don’t have to have a diary or journal, just grab a piece of paper and start putting your feelings on the pad.

Writing is a good way to expel your pain.

This is also a good alternative if you don’t have close friends of family whom you can be your true self with. If you feel that screaming and crying in front of someone would put you in too vulnerable a place, try this instead.

The best part of putting it on paper is you don’t have to worry about others hearing about it from someone else. What you want to be private can effectively remain that way.

Don’t worry about how it comes across, spelling or grammar. Write in short hand if it helps you. It doesn’t have to make too much sense because no one is going to read it.

It’s not a term paper. The whole point is to get it out so you can get your feelings out.

When all is said and done, you can toss it in the fireplace, symbolizing that your connection to it went up in smoke. Talk about letting go!

Get professional help

Professionals are another great alternative if you don’t have the necessary support system in place.

Sometimes your inner circle cannot detach themselves enough to be able to help you. And if you have a friend who has a singular view they won’t be much help in opening your eyes to alternative perspectives.

You need unbiased support to cover all the bases and help you through. It’s pointless trying to get guidance from someone who has already made up their mind on the issue.

A therapist will be able to help you work out your issues with your past or a life coach can help you realign your focus for your future.

Getting professional help also allows you to be yourself without any worries of judgment. It’s easier to open up to someone when you know it will not affect your relationship. 


When people think of forgiveness they always think it’s beneficial for another person. That it has nothing to do with themselves.

Forgiving isn’t accepting what has happened or even diminishing its impact. It really has nothing to do with the other parties involved. It’s all about you in the end.

This is about you letting of the past, of vengeance, of retaliation. Or even the idea of a do-over. It simply means you’re ready to move past it, that the chapter is closed within you.

When you don’t forgive you can’t move pass it. With this you carry the burden, the pain stays within you. By doing this you actually release control of your future to focus on your past, when you really need to be doing the opposite.

Reframe your thoughts

If you’ve released your feelings but it still comes up from time to time, just reframe your thoughts.

If bringing up the past is an old (bad) habit for you change will not come immediately. You may talk about it with someone but still end up repeating it to anyone who will listen.

That just shows that you’re really not over it. You may tell yourself you are but your actions have yet to prove it. But sometimes you just need a reminder that you’ve chosen to leave it behind.

When you catch yourself thinking about it or about to talk about it again, select something else. There are probably a million other things you should be focused on so put your energy towards that.

I had to do this starting out because I had a tendency to hold grudges. I just couldn’t allow myself to remember that it was no longer worth my time.

After reframing my thoughts to focus on something that was actually beneficial to me, I was able to keep moving forward. Over time it becomes easier to reframe and eventually the mind stops going back to it.

Clinging to past negativity isn’t necessary. Actually, there is no benefit to living in the past it doesn’t help you at all, it keeps you from being present and taking advantage of all that is in front of you. It also hinders you from being able to achieve your goals because of your lack of focus.

And you can’t change the past so really there is no point. But you still have the opportunity to lead the life you deserve if you start letting go of the past and start moving forward now.

Determine which method above works for you and make that your go-to solution for moving forward.


What about you…

Are you hanging on to something pointless? How is it impacting you?

How do you let go of the past?




About Lea

Lea is a certified life coach, foodie and lifehack expert. Don’t end up like the millions of people who gave up on their dreams, get unstuck and to the next level. Take the eye-opening Live Your Dreams course now to get moving!

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  • Hi Lea,

    Lovely post with apt tips 🙂

    I think most people cling to their past and it’s tough for them to move forward with their lives because of that reason. But if you don’t learn to let go and move ahead, how can you ever really live a happy life.

    Forgiving and trying to forget the past is what works best. Yes, penning or venting your thoughts, or talking them out with others helps a great deal to take it out of your system. Once you do that, you feel a lot more lighter and you begin seeing things differently.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice weekend 🙂

    • Lea

      Hey Harleena,

      You’re so right. Hanging on to your past hinders your happiness.

      Forgetting the the past is a great way to leave it behind. That way you definitely won’t be dragging it into your present.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Love these tips as well. My strategy for letting go of the past is meditating, which helps bring me back to, and appreciate the present moment. I find that the more I appreciate the present moment, the more I learn to appreciate the things that brought be to where I am today–good and bad 🙂

    • Lea

      That’s a great tip Chris! Meditating also helps me bring things back into perspective.

      I’m glad you shared that with us.

  • I love these tips. Letting go of the past is hard sometimes. There are emotions and feelings that go along with them – it’s not easy to let go. For me, the thing that works well is writing them out. In fact, I’d say all artistic expression can help. I know people who work through feelings by painting – it seems to work for them, but that’s not the route I would take though.

    • Lea

      You’re right Steve artistic expression can be a powerful aid.

      I agree with you on the painting thing. Not quite the route I’d take either. But thanks for sharing your methods.