Last month I was delving into my past and sharing my mental health journey on the blog. Writing about my illness was therapeutic, but I need to fully move on from my past.
There are lots of books about leaving the past behind. Many religious self-help books deal with breaking free from your past and the salvation offered by religion. But that's not for me.
I want to find productive ways of being free from what held me back in the past; be it, bullying, self-doubt, self-hatred, stigma.
From reviewing the self-help literature on the topic the consensus is that we must follow certain steps to be free and move on from the past. These steps roughly go as follows:
- Acknowledge the emotions
- Let go of anger and blame
- Let go of guilt
- Forgive yourself
So how do we let go?
Leaving your past behind you does not happen overnight. Moving on is a process, but in the end, we free ourselves from that which has held us back.
Here are some of the ways we can let go:
- Decide you don't want to live in the past.
Write about it; Express it; Accept Responsibility for moving on.
- Look to your past as a mixture of both positive and negative. (See My Past post here) Make a list of all your accomplishments. Learn that negative past experiences do not define you.
- Clear baggage. Literally. Remove any triggers - photos, old mementos, people who fill you with negativity. Let them go.
- Write a letter to someone who hurt you in the past. Burn it.
- Write a letter to yourself, detailing how far you've come and why nothing can hold you back from achieving your goals. Keep it and read it when you feel overwhelmed.
- Make self care a priority. Treat yourself well.
- Work on forgiveness. Forgive yourself for your mistakes and failings. Forgive others for how they acted in the past.
- Repeat positive messages to yourself everyday, like your mantra; "Don't forget to be awesome".
- Work it out. One of the best ways to get the anger out is boxing, or join a boxercise class. It helps to visualize while you let off steam.
- Live in the present moment. It's important to remind yourself that life is now. Not whatever happened 1, 3 or even 7 years ago. Meditation, mindfulness and yoga can all help.
It's okay to grieve, allow yourself time to process what you've been through. But to move on we need to take positive steps forward, towards our future. I'll be following these tips throughout April as I continue to work to Be Free from the past.
As my new favourite inspiring woman Maya says;
“You may not control all the events that happen to you but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” - Maya Angelou
Follow my month of activities to Be Free here.