Letting go of the past.
One thing that connects us as human beings is our ability to feel pain. Whether that pain is physical or emotional, we all have experiences of being hurt. What separates us though, is how we deal with that pain. You never understand what someone has gone through, unless until you walk through their shoes. The reaction to pain and perception of it differs and is very personal experience to every individual.
Why letting go is so hard?
Known and Unknown facts about letting go of the Past:
The truth about letting go is not leaving the past or forgetting the past and the impact of trauma it caused. Healing is very personal experience:
- Letting go of yesterday involves and demands change both in thinking and doing. Its things we do as well as things we think that hold us unwittingly in a painful place. Even change for the better is still change, and change is always uncomfortable, often initially dreaded and avoided at least at first. Psychological research says that there is great deal of resistance is shown even for taking a positive change.
- As humans we are creatures of habit and of inertia. It’s very easy for the brain to remember and live the situation what it already know than looking at a sceptical world which never happened.
“Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.” –Herman Hesse.
- There’s always a fear of new and unknown remains in our mind. New always associated with risk and danger unknown right from very beginning of evolution. We keep holding on to our past even if it pains, because moving on from the past means stepping into the unknown future We often feel familiar pain is better than unknown fear and uncertainty, as it is much scarier than the weight of past.
- Information with emotion makes an indelible impression. Person with a core mind-set of a feminine nature will attach to emotion, which means anything that impacts them emotionally in a significant way causes pain and suffering and thus it makes them hard for letting go. Comparatively a masculine natured mind-set persons does not care and feel things deeply A highly masculine person does care and feel things deeply, masculine energy is always about breaking through and letting go. While feminine energy is all about filling up and Gathering. And every human regardless of gender possess these feminine and masculine characteristics.
When there is still emotion tied to a memory, moving on from the past becomes increasingly difficult for who are biologically predisposed.
“There is a fine balance between honouring the past and losing yourself in it. You can acknowledge and learn from the mistakes you made and then move on. It’s called forgiving yourself.” – Eckhart Tolle
What’s the psychology behind letting go and how does human react to these?
According to Neuroscience, the brain handles negative and positive information differently. Negative experiences require more thinking and, thus, are processed more thoroughly. This makes brain better at remembering worst or negative events. Reliving sad memories makes us feel like a person stuck in a circle, no matter how hard we try, we can’t move forward and keep circling in the loop.
Letting go and grieving is a process which takes time Kübler-Ross described it in 5 stages of where an individual goes through different emotional states before moving on.
1. Denial and Disbelief: At first, you’ll be in complete denial that the situation where it is hard for you to believe and accept what has happened and You’ll be wondering and relieving trying to become hero and sort it pulling ways to find solution that how you could have reacted and behaved before the occurrence of that particular situation.
Example: “No! This isn’t true.”/ “I can’t believe it or I don’t believe it.” / “I should do something to make it back to normal.”
2. Anger / hiding and destroying the evidence: There will be a footprint of memory comes in so many forms. They’re in pictures, old emails, text messages, saved special days, you try to delete them or avoid them in hope to help yourself from going back. When the individual observe that denial can’t continue for long, they become very frustrated, especially at close dear and near individuals.
Example: “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; “Who is to blame?”; “Why would this happen?
3. Bargaining – Seeking compromise, or negotiating, trading kind of behaviour is seen to avoid feeling of hurt. The negotiation is made in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. People facing trauma can bargain or seek compromise.
Examples: An attempt to bargain for more time to live in exchange for a reformed lifestyle or a phrase such as “If I could trade their life for mine”.
4. Depression – This is the stage where the person feels it’s over and nothing can be done to make it back to normal. At this point of stage they become hopeless and helpless and slip into feeling of silence, isolation and spend much time in mourning in solitude.
Example: “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die soon anyway, so what’s the point of being strong or living?”; “I miss my dear one, so why should I go on?”
5. Acceptance – At this point of stage individual understand the reality and accepts it, where one finds coping and moving on is the only possible thing they could do embracing life what they still have or accepting about inevitable future it with a calm, retrospective view and a stable condition of emotions.
Example: “Maybe it’s going to be okay soon.”; “I can’t fight it anyway/ I may as well prepare for it.”
In this last stage, person would embrace mortality or inevitable future, or that of a loved one, or other tragic event.
These stages can happen and not happen in order and can also happen in combinations. Sometimes a person stuck in any one of this stage resulting hard to let go the past.
How to let Go past and cope with feelings of pain?
Before knowing how to let go If you feel you are stuck and intent on not letting go then ask yourself simple questions and try to answer them honestly as detail as possible.
Knowing and Identifying the Blockage:
- Why? What is that is keeping you from living your best life? What is pulling you back?
- What is the reason you are refusing to move on with your life?
- Is the present and future are not worth than what you have lived in past?
- Is it the regret and Guilt that is eating you alive? Is your past was the best time of your life? How Can I make your present and Future replicate it?
- Was there your mistake in what has happened? If so “How could you correct it?”
- Is there anything you could do to change the reality?
Coping with past needs:
- Acceptance: Try to understand that it has already happened, it’s over and can’t be changed. And there’s no point clinging on to it as it can change any further or allow you to move nowhere than stuck and confined with it, Blocking you from living present.
- Feel the pain and acknowledge your pain validate your feelings: You must fully accept the severity of the devastation you caused or felt. It’s natural pain response and don’t try to show portray and pretend stronger outside instead of accepting the pain, it’s okay to feel hurt, accept pain and hurtful emotions, try to pour it out, scream, cry, mourn loss, then vent it out by speaking with someone close or acknowledging your feelings yourself.
- Forgive: You must forgive yourself for what has happened. No matter whose fault it was. Don’t carry the weight on your shoulder.
“Letting go of the past is not forgetting what happened, but to let go of our expectations. We don’t suffer because a relationship ended. We suffer because we wanted it to last forever. –Ajahn brahm”
- Repair and Learn from it: Know your worth, strengths, weakness, things that you need to work on for the betterment and what you deserve, and what needs to be changed. Learn from the experience. Don’t let others define you. Let go of attachments.
- Make the lesson count and use it as a stepping stone for the transformation: when you feel you are ready to move on make the changes that are necessary for it, make choices that counts, and a different choice that will break the routine pattern of hurt and response to pain.
- Be in Present making things that improves your strength and work towards what you dreamed for: The capacity of being in present is a powerful antidote to stop thinking and reliving the past memories. The ability to focus on the present is can be improved by the technique of mindfulness and practice of non-judgmental approach allowing free flow of thoughts and sensations at that very moment.
Tips on working with letting go:
- Find yourself a hobby or a passion that you love.
- Create a positive mantra to counter the painful thought – Example: “I must create a _____ or else be enslaved by _____. I will not _____ or _______. My Business is to ______.”
- Create a physical distance from the things, person, or situation that trigger or pull you back.
- Self-Care, pamper yourself and make self-care routines and take yourself out on dates and explore new things.
- Practice Mindfulness which helps in focusing on the present.
- Be gentle with yourself and love, respect and appreciate your unique attributes.
- Allow the negative emotions to flow out freely instead of hiding or restricting them.
- Accept the unsaid sorry and free yourself from carrying the weight of others mistake.
- Surround yourself with positive people who inspire you to be who you really are and appreciate your presence.
- Allow yourself to talk about it, in a way to pour it out before it overflow.