“When the past calls, let it go to voicemail. It has nothing new to say.” – Mandy Hale
Letting go of the past certainly can seem challenging when old times hold so many precious memories and people you used to know. However, we must move on from the past if we ever want to live a happy, fulfilling future. Staying stuck in the past only promotes stagnation and depression, as we can’t ever get the past back.
The past can teach us valuable lessons, but to stay there would mean putting our lives on hold, and that does nothing for us in the end. When you find yourself reminiscing on the past and wishing you could somehow get it back, refer to these five important questions below.
Here are 5 questions to ask yourself when you can’t let go of the past:
1. Am I in the present moment, or in the past?
Obviously to remain stuck in the past, we have to actually shift our consciousness and perception to days gone by. In other words, to let go of the past, we must turn our attention to the present moment so that we can fully enjoy life and all it can offer us. Living in the past will only bring about depression about how things used to be, and the fact that they can no longer be exactly as you remembered.
Marcia Reynolds, Psy. D., says, “You can’t force yourself to love your current life but you can recognize the value today and the possibility for fulfillment tomorrow. Or maybe you need to start looking for a new role, job, or adventure that will get your old needs met. Be careful, you should not decide you are failing at your new endeavor because you aren’t perfect. Making a full transition takes time.
2. Do I have the same beliefs?
Going through life, we will inevitably change our beliefs from time to time. New experiences require us to shift our thinking and question everything we thought we once knew. As you think about moving on from the past, remember how much you’ve grown since then, and how you see the world differently than before.
In the past, you saw things from a certain vantage point because you didn’t have all the experiences you have today. Now that you know what you do, would you even want to go back to your former self? Think about this next time it seems hard to let go of the past.
3. Is there more I have to learn from my past experience?
Ask yourself why you keep going back to the past. If you find yourself traveling back in time often, you probably have some unfinished business there. Ask yourself if you have learned all the lessons you can from the past, or if you have more to uncover from your experiences. Many times, we revisit the past because it has something left to teach us that we may not have learned before.
4. Have I completed the lesson?
Many people live in the past simply because they haven’t learned all they could from it. The past offers powerful lessons if we feel ready to receive them. Life will continue to send you the same teachers until you have mastered the lesson, so maybe you aren’t actually living in the past – maybe you just keep seeing the same situations repeating themselves because you haven’t completed the lesson yet.
There’s nothing wrong with this, but you need to ask yourself this question next time you have trouble letting go of the past. It will help you to understand why you cannot move on at this time.
5. How does the past serve me today?
How you do feel about your past? Do you feel it helped you along your journey, or do you feel damaged and weathered by your experiences? Everything in life is about perception and perspective, so maybe you just need to shift your thinking about the past in order to move on from it.
Your future awaits you, and your present beckons your presence, so don’t allow precious moments to pass thinking about what could’ve been. Just enjoy today, and thank the past for what it taught you.