How to Move Forward and Stop Living in the Past


Anna Zannides

So many of us find it hard to let go of the past. Our memories become our world; they keep us stuck, constantly going back to what-ifs.

Learning to let go of the past is an important part of moving forward in life. That doesn’t mean we don’t ever think of the past, or that we pretend something never happened. It simply means we don’t live in the past.

If you keep clinging to the past it will only continue to cause pain. So for your own sake, it’s time to make a real effort to let go of the past, because it really is only alive while you keep it alive.

You may be thinking, but how? How do I let go of the past?

First, change how you relate to your past.

You can make a big difference in your life by changing how you relate to your past, and you start to see it for what it really was. Try to be objective, without the added drama, emotions and often unrealistic stories you tell. Then your connection to the past starts to change too.

Give yourself permission to be real, to not romanticize what was probably not so romantic. It takes courage to strip away the stories you have been telling yourself to start to see it for what it really was. You may have to accept the things you put up with and made excuses for just to keep everything together. But it’s time to be more honest.

Then, let things be – If you can’t change it, why waste time?

The truth is that it’s difficult to let go of the past because it was a part of your life at one point. All you can really do is begin to accept it and leave it be. You don’t have to live in the past to reach acceptance; it’s important to recognize when you’re getting lost in the past so that you can guide yourself back into the present.

In meditation we practice being the observer of our thoughts, learning to simply watch our thoughts pass by. That’s a skill that takes time to learn, catching yourself when you get involved and moving your focus away from these thoughts. The more you practice, the easier it gets.

This isn’t something you only practice while sitting in meditation either. You can practice during your day. When you notice that you’re lost in thoughts of the past, stop for a few minutes. Catch yourself, don’t be upset with yourself for having the thoughts, and adjust your thinking. Then bring yourself fully into the present moment, which is always the best and only place to be.

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