Letting go of the past: How to live in the now

It’s easy to find yourself stuck living in, or dwelling on, the past. Whether you’ve gone through a terrible experience that has left you feeling like you’re in pieces, or you’re just trying to create a better future for yourself and are having trouble letting go of how things used to be, moving forward is hard.

Living in the past can make you feel stuck, stagnant, or like you’re going to be in that phase of life forever because nothing will ever change. It can be hard to see what lies ahead of you because you’re always looking behind you. Living your life and making your decisions based on what is in the past is going to hold you back in life.

Taking the steps to allow yourself to let go of the past and move forward with your own future can be a difficult task. It likely won’t be something that you can just switch instantly. But if you can get to this point you can begin to feel that weight lifted off your shoulders so you can begin to feel hopeful and refreshed. Below are some tips for learning to let go of the past and move forward with your future. Here are a couple of tips for letting go of the past.

Accept what was

Before you can truly let go of anything negative or upsetting from your past is to accept what was. Acceptance of what happened, or what negative parts of your life you were living, is important because you need to come to terms with it before you can move past it. Try to think of it without judgment and find ways to accept it.

Practice forgiveness

When you practice forgiveness, you’ve not only accepted the past but you’re letting go of resentment of yourself, someone else, or the situation. Understanding the past and allowing forgiveness can free yourself from feeling bitter or negative towards the past. It’s impossible to truly move on with feelings of bitterness or negativity.

Come up with a positive mantra

Even if you’re able to accept the past and practice forgiveness, the past that you’re trying to escape may creep back up again in the future. It may just be in your thoughts or you may come up with someone who brings up the past. Because of this, it can be helpful to come up with a positive mantra in response to what you’re letting go of. What can you say to yourself if it comes up in your mind that can remind you that you’ve accepted the past and are moving forward? What can you say to someone else who was involved or who brings up the past that can let them know that you’ve moved on?

Visualize the future

When you’re trying to let go of something, visualizing the future can be calming and motivating. Whatever you want moving forward to look like for you, close your eyes and visualize it. Feel the feelings you want to feel when you’re in that place in the future.

Letting go, moving on and continuing your life so that you can enjoy the future that awaits you is a journey. But once you’ve done the work to get to a place where you’ve accepted and moved on from the past and are enjoying the future, it will be worth the wait.

If you'd like to learn more about how to let go of past events that are still affecting your ability to move forward in your life, please check out the book, Fresh Start: The New You Begins Today by Joel Osteen. You can also try his sermon titled The Power of Letting Go. You can skip through to time marker 1:20 (where the sermon begins)

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