Have you ever replayed past mistakes in your head, over and over again until you make yourself crazy with guilt and regret? Or kept going back in time, wishing you could have a do-over? “If only” is a chain that holds you tied to the past, with a force that prevents you from fully enjoying the present… and freely creating your future.
Holding on to past hurts – which is what we hold on to long after we should have let go – strains relationships, makes us hesitate when opportunities present themselves, distracts us from work and our loved ones, and keeps us from missing out on the delightful and important moments we are living RIGHT NOW.
Learning to let go and release the past is so liberating, and so healing, you will wish you had learned how to do this long ago. Letting go of people (unhealthy relationships), desires, bad habits, regrets, guilt, limiting beliefs and other thoughts that consume your energy will allow you to move forward with happiness and a peaceful mind.
How to keep from living in the past and missing out on today
Use the centering meditation technique to learn to relax your body and brain, quiet your mind and create a tranquil mental state where the emotions of the past do not pollute the present. Be fully present – focus on your breath, focus on a song or a mantra, and any time your thoughts wander to the past, turn your thoughts to NOW. After some practice you’ll find it easier to direct your mind’s focus and keep it from straying to the past. Don’t know how to meditate? Download a free Silva Centering meditation here
2. Be grateful.
When you can be grateful for everything that has happened, you release those old hurts. Make a real effort to be grateful for the experiences of the past, especially the difficult experiences. How have you grown from them? What did you learn? How have those experiences shaped you? Without these experiences, you would not be who you are today!
Check out some great quotes that can teach you gratitude
3. Tell a new story.
Incredible as it may sound, you perpetuate the past by telling the same story about yourself. Any time you perpetuate a story about yourself – “I can’t do (blabla)” or “I’ve never been able to (yadda)” then how can you ever expect improve?nt You MUST align your speech and your goals. Even if you don’t believe you can achieve your goals yet, you must speak as if you have 100% confidence in yourself. Drill it into your head that your goals are not only possible but achievable by YOU. Simply start telling a new story about yourself. Not in an arrogant or conceited way, of course. Just make your speech reflect your potential, not your limitations. Not much later, you will start believing what you say, and the old limitations of the past will be released.
Forgiveness does not mean condoning another person’s behavior (or even your own); it means letting go of the burden of anger, guilt, etc. and moving on.
Think about a past pain and evaluate its usefulness in your life right now. How does that past pain affect you? What problems does it cause? Does it make you happy or unhappy? Does it affect your relationships and interfere with your work? Does it keep you from going for your dreams? If a pain does not serve you well, then say, “I do not need this pain. It belongs in the past.” You’ll need to practice this, but you can completely release the emotional burden of a past event (and still retain the ‘cold hard facts’ of the event in your memory). Use Silva visualization techniques to ‘see’ the old memory without its emotional baggage.
6. Take responsibility.
You can’t control what another person did or said, but have you taken responsibility for your role in the situation? Shift your mindset from being a victim to being a participant. What might you have done differently? You CAN’T go back and take that action now, so be grateful that you understand the lesson and that you are responsible for your actions, and relegate that memory to the archives. You don’t need to visit it again if you don’t want to.
What happened in the past is history. If you carry anger, bitterness, resentment and guilt, IT IS BECAUSE YOU CHOOSE TO CARRY THEM.
There is a wonderful old story that perfectly illustrates this point:
“Two Zen monks were walking and they came to a wide river. On the riverbank, they saw a young woman, crying because she needed to cross the river but did not know how to swim. She begged the two monks to carry her across the river. The younger monk immediately refused, since he was forbidden to touch a woman.
The older monk didn’t hesitate and without a word, he picked up the young woman and carried her across the river.
The younger monk chastised the older monk for breaking a vow. As they walked, the young monk could not let go of his disappointment in his mentor’s behavior and his tirade continued for many miles until the two stopped for the evening. The younger monk continued his complaining, this time turning it to how tired he was after the long walk.
With a kind look, the older monk said to the younger monk, “It is no wonder you are exhausted! I only carried the woman across the river. You have been carrying her all day.”
You have a choice. While you cannot control the actions of others, you CAN control your response and you can control your choice to hang on.
Final thoughts on releasing the past: what you focus on, expands. Do you want the past to consume your life? Do you want to miss out on life because you’re stuck somewhere long ago and far away? Focus on NOW. Focus on living. Use the Silva mind control visualization exercises to gently but firmly redirect your focus anytime it reverts to its usual “coulda, woulda, shoulda” merry-go-round. You do not need to live in the past. Make that choice today, and Be. Here. Now!