Holding on is believing that there’s a past; letting go is knowing that there’s a future. – Daphne Rose Kingma
Letting go of the past is something I’m sure we all struggle with. For a long time, I would not allow myself to be free of mistakes, guilt, past relationships and all the should of’s and could of’s that perhaps may have changed certain experiences.
It has taken hard work, really hard work to begin to see the negative hold that dwelling has on your current happiness. Over time I have tried everything from a complete mental block to CBT, to mindfulness meditation and talking it out to the point of exhaustion; none have fully rid my thoughts of past pains.
Annoyingly, I am well aware of the importance of living in the present moment, of looking to the future and moving forward. I know attachment to the past is unhealthy, unhelpful and unproductive, yet it is still present at times. Letting go is essential and of all the approaches there is one I have found to be most helpful.
Letting Go Will Always Be Hard.
One thing I know for sure is that whatever we give our attention to, grows inside us. Good or bad, what we spend time focusing on will, in turn, be what we experience. Personally, I know when I try really hard to rid my life of a stress, I get more stressed and uncomfortable. If I ruminate on a worrisome thought I suddenly realise I’ve spent days in a state of worry, bordering on panic at times. I now believe the same goes for letting go of the past. Once we are truly able to let it go, and I mean completely shift your attention away from it – we are more likely to move on. If we put conscious effort into the act of letting go I believe we will experience more of its unpleasant emotions.
To begin to shift our focus we must accept what really is. If you need to let go of past grief, perhaps start by accepting that you feel the grief and upset. Don’t push against it or try to defeat it. Allow yourself to feel it wholly and let it exist. Work with it and not against it and in essence agree with your negative thought patterns.
While this might seem counterproductive, I have learned its a great approach to dealing with negative thoughts. I mention it in a number of my other articles. Accept it for what it is and how it feels. By accepting these thoughts you create an outside perspective of what’s happening rather than engaging in a battle with them.
When you have found some peace with accepting what is, you can begin to let in the new. Attempting to let go of something will likely always trigger a negative emotion, fear or anxiety etc. It’s the fear of change, of the unknown and of being uncertain about what is to come next.
Instead of letting go, let in!
My basis for this article is the amazing insight I found in a Tiny Buddha article a few years ago when I was really battling with the past. I learned that to let go of anxiety and self-doubt we must invite in confidence and positive new experiences. Shift your focus to what you desire most. Instead of exhausting yourself trying to let go, accept where you are, accept how you feel about the past and confirm that all those negative feelings and emotions are ok. Give up the battle and write an invitation to everything you now want and yearn for.
Daydream about what is to come, imagine it and visualise what you’d love next. Target the wanted and release the unwanted.
Watch your life unfold as you imagined it, before you.
Tim is the Founder and Creative Director at Fuel Media Limited, and the passionate lifestyle writer here at To Whom It May Concern. He resides on the beautiful North Shore in Auckland, New Zealand.