Letting Go of the Past – A Guide

Letting go of the past

Letting Go Of The Past 

Letting go of the past is particularly painful for some.  It certainly was for me…this post contains a solution and how to let go of the past and discusses my path traveled.

Developing Balance and Mindfulness For Letting Go Of The Past

Letting go of the past

The Agony Of The Past Can Keep Our Future Always Our Future…Let Go To Make The Future Your Present

For many, if not most people, letting go of the past and moving on with our lives after the loss of something or someone special is exceptionally painful and difficult. For some of us, and I speak from experience, it may seem absolutely impossible. But left unchecked, or left unresolved will unfortunately have serious consequences to not only our emotional state but also our physical and long term mental well-being.

Attachment to the past is a universally ingrained part of every person. Whether we like to admit it or not we are creatures of habit and we like the comfort of the familiar. For some of us times of change when bought about by emotional upheaval are hugely difficult. We mourn the loss of that something and someone to such an extent that we forget us, who we are and the unique beauty of “us, as an individual”.

How do I know? How can I be sure? Letting Go Of The Past Is Vital!

Because I am the person described above, and as I write this article I am writing it from a holistic self healing perspective. In the past 2 years I have possibly suffered some of the worst set backs in my life. All of them of my own making and all of them due to the fact that I did not put in place my own beliefs about how to let go of the past.

To cut my story short and move on to the techniques which, I promise, will allow you to avoid a similar path to me by letting go of the past and focusing on you I offer a brief overview. In my situation it was love. The sadness, as it turns out that it was a one sided love. The person in question is and was not to blame, in fact I still believe that the object of my affection is probably the most wonderful person I have met. However the love story I had created in my head was not to be. This doesn’t make the pain any less, in fact almost worse, because that person who you loved with every part of your being is still just round the corner getting on with life and probably not thinking of us at all.

You and I know that this is part of the ups, downs and adventures of life, but I forgot this! Because I didn’t follow my own advise about how to let go of the past I suffered. While life moved on I sat at home, waiting for a phone call, making excuses as to why i didn’t hear anything – mainly due to the fact we had actually shared some incredible times, over many months, and also both been through some incredibly challenging individual personal circumstances, for me a suicide of a partner, which had meant providing total support and love.

But as this person healed I was no longer needed, and I found that almost impossible to accept. I isolated myself, lost friends, waited for a call that never came. And finally after many months i realized I was the only one suffering but by then I had confided in the wrong people, trusted the wrong people and due to my choices had lost my home, job and all self respect. All of my own doing and my choices.

I offer this piece of ‘me’ so readers will understand that I have “been there and done that” and possibly as a cathartic release. I also offer it because I know that the following mindfulness meditation gave me, and continues to give me, my faith and hope and a return to “me” as I rebuild and move forward.

You can heal, you will heal, you can love, you will love – but to do this we must learn how to let go of the past.

And I dedicate this to the person I love, and now see as the person not the god. My love is with you always xxx

letting go of the past

The despair of lost love is unequaled. However painful we never wish to lose that persons memory or the qualities they added to our life. But we must let go to truly remember and celebrate.

In this two-part article series, we’re going to examine the nature of attachment from a Buddhist psychology perspective.

In his post we will see how attachment can manifest itself and draw us to the past. We will examine it specifically from the perspective of the Five Hindrances or the obstacles to our spiritual development.


Letting Go Of The Past

If you are familiar with Buddhism you may have heard of the Five Hindrances, or the 5 negative states of mind which block or form barriers, therefore inhibit and impact on any mindfulness meditation practice. These hindrances prevent us from achieving freedom from our suffering.

Unfortunately the Five Hindrances impact upon most of us, whether we choose to admit it, almost daily and if one becomes a fixation or obsession we see all sense and holistic balance suffer. The 5 Hindrances are:

Sensual Desire

Aversion

Restlessness

Sloth/Torpor

Doubt

These hindrances will manifest themselves into various behaviors that can often keep us dwelling in the past and living unmindfully.


Sensual Desire – Letting Go Of the Past

Experience teaches us that we can achieve happiness by stimulating our 5 senses. When we positively stimulate our senses, we trigger positive emotions. For example, when we enjoy dinner with a loved one, we stimulate the senses of sight, taste, and smell leading to us feeling happy, loved, satisfied and content.

While there is no harm at all in relating our senses to positive emotions, when we become dependent on external stimuli for our sensual desire and happiness, so no longer are we discussing dinner, we find that most hedonistic or sensually related pleasures are short-lived.

When the pleasant emotions subside, we want to feel the same pleasure again, forming a habit and so we need to indulge in that behavior again in order to experience the same gratifying emotions. If our past experiences and interactions have been traumatic or negative in anyway we may not be able to choose between emotionally healthy and unhealthy ways of dealing with our emotions leading to sensual desire becoming an obsession or addiction. This is the nature of alcoholism and drug addiction.


So, how does sensual desire keep us living in the past?

Many of us,thankfully, have pleasant memories of our past. When we remember them, we trigger positive emotions such as love, warmth and security. It is entirely healthy to have wonderful memories of our past.

The problem arises when we depend on these past experiences as the source of our happiness, at the expense of finding or enjoying happiness in the present. There reaches a point when these wonderful and happy memories actually become obstacles to our freedom. Those lovely, happy times now anchor us to the past. If this continues we stop having new good times, we do not experience the creation of new wonderful memories and this reinforces the belief that we were only happy then and can only be happy by reenacting or replaying those memories. If continued we lose ourselves and forget to live.


Aversion – Letting Go Of The Past

Aversion is the opposite of sensual desire. Instead of longing for the past, we try to run from it because of painful memories that stir up unwholesome emotions such as anger, resentment, guilt, and regret.

However Aversion has same effect on our health and well being as Sensual Desire because we remain focused on memories, memories that keep us stuck in the past, this time because we don’t feel these experiences have been resolved. One sadly common example is experiencing a trauma inflicted by an adult, perhaps neglect, when we were children, and growing up and into our adulthood we are still waiting for that person to rectify the situation. Internally we know that this is unlikely to ever occur and the person who harmed us may be unwilling, unable, or no longer alive.

The truth is we will never be free and never understand how to let go of the past until we repair the damage ourselves. We can not run from it, or wait for someone to repair the damage – we must do it ourselves. It may not be just, but it is necessary if we want to be happy and free. We need to cultivate acceptance, compassion and forgiveness if we are let go of past injustices and learn how to let go of the past.

On the other hand, some of us may have harmed others or ourselves. Remember this does not have to be a large major incident, maybe if we were to mention it to others they may view it as a small and seemingly insignificant occurrence but to us we feel the hurt and see the hurt in others. Regardless of the incident if we feel we have harmed someone else, then we feel guilt. If we have harmed ourselves, then we feel regret. Unlike harm caused to us by others in this situation we have the ability to make amends, and right the wrongs we have made.

This will not only help us forgive ourselves, but it will also help heal the wounds of our victims.

meditation - letting go of the past


Restlessness – Letting Go Of The Past

Restlessness is caused by the over-stimulation of our minds. Very often, we’re surrounded by a great deal of activity, noise, and visual stimuli. All these trigger thoughts, which eventually gain so much momentum that it becomes difficult to quiet our mind.

Restlessness keeps us in the past by continually triggering old memories, whether they’re pleasant or unpleasant.

Our mind develops habitual energy. Physical body’s love habits, because habits are about survival, they are easy, known and and require us to expend less energy than creating something new, therefore they are trusted by our physical body even if harmful to our emotional and mental well-being . These habitual thoughts travel only along the same neural pathways. In order to break this cycle, we need to allow the mind to settle down, and learn to live in the present moment. This will enable us to develop new neural pathways unrelated to the past.


Sloth and Torpor – Letting Go Of The Past

Sloth and torpor are dullness of the mind and are the extreme opposite of restlessness.

Sadly for those who fall into this hindrance it is a choice rather than a habit. Those with issues of Sloth and Torpor simply do not want to devote the time and effort it takes to process new information. It may be that the thought of developing something new causes fear or anxiety of losing the loved and happy old memories. They are unable to see or accept that their emotional state and the happiness these memories stir is not reality but living in a fantasy of hopeful return.

Most know that these times are gone, that they are over, that they are not to be repeated in reality but the mere thought of that triggers such intense feeling that they would rather shut down all senses and thinking. This is commonly seen amongst alcohol and drug addicts, they do not choose to become an addicts but it occurs over time, usually beginning because they seek and need something to help them dull their minds or to stop them from thinking, especially to stop them processing the realization that their memories are just that, memories.

The problem with Sloth and Torpor is that if addiction occurs it quickly becomes a vicious and hard to resolve cycle. People want to stop thinking about the past, frightened they may have to accept that they are lingering with memories and so seek something to block out thoughts. Then this addiction causes them to do shameful things in order to feed their habits, which leads to more feelings of guilt, shame, and remorse. And so the need to block and forget continues.

The way Sloth and Torpor keeps us in the past is similar to restlessness. It prevents us from developing neural pathways related to the present. Again unwittingly we end up stuck in the past.

letting go of the past


Doubt – Letting Go Of The Past

Doubt is the fifth hindrance that can keep us clinging to the past. Most of us are uncertain about the future. That is normal. With mindfulness, however, we can gain some idea of how certain events are likely to unfold, but there still remains an element of uncertainty.

There are many factors in any given situation that we cannot account for. However, the person living in the now and the present tends to know how to increase the chances of a positive outcome, and is able to accept the remaining uncertainty—so he tends to be more optimistic. We know that out thoughts form our reality. Believing in ourselves, believing in a balanced lifestyle and believing in our abilities will lead to positive life outcomes.

Those who are less mindful have more difficulty accepting uncertainty, because it brings about feelings of being powerless to influence their happiness. To them, memories of the past, whether happy or unhappy, provide them with a modest degree of certainty, and therefore, comfort. Again we are talking habits of the mind.

Doubt can lead to worsening of the situation as those who are stuck in the past often believe that if they can recreate the same conditions of happier times, then they will be happy once again. They think that if only a lost love would take them back, or if their family would reunite, then they will be happy. So they spend a great deal of time and energy trying to make the past a reality once again. At the core of this line of thinking is a doubt about their future—or more importantly, their present. And as they remain stuck in the past life for everyone else moves on and this brings to the person with doubt a sense of even greater rejection or loss and in some circumstances leads to obsessional behavior.

letting go of the past


Letting Go Of The Past

Recreate yourself, bring back the child, the love of the new and clear blocks – Mindfulness Meditation

.

Old memories can easily lure us back in time if we are not mindful.

The Five Hindrances manifest themselves in various ways to distract us from the present moment. This is why they’re called hindrances.

There is nothing wrong with remembering the past. It can teach us some valuable lessons about ourselves and human nature. On the other hand, if we have strong attachments to the past, they can have serious physical, mental, and emotional consequences. They will clearly hinder our present-day relationships.

In my next post we will learn a technique called Mindfulness Meditation which allows us to overcome the Five Hindrances, so we can let go of the past, and learn how to find joy and fulfillment in the present.

In particular, we’ll learn how to use mindfulness meditation to heal the wounds from our past, so that painful memories no longer haunt us. We will also learn how to enjoy happy memories without clinging to them.

Unleash the child, the you that loves excitement and adventure and anything new!

Together let us take charge of our life without the past holding us back. Learn the true meaning of the word freedom.

Until then “To your very best health” and another THANK YOU – my friends around the world who without knowing, and without having even met, left comments that made me feel like me again, reawakened the knowledge that I am entitled to happiness and made me remember how to let go of the past.

Thank you again brothers and sisters. You know who you are.

Yours – G.B.A

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Please leave a comment in the thread below or contact me directly by clicking here.

Last updated on 10 December, 2017 3:57 pm

8 Responses to Letting Go of the Past – A Guide

  1. hi Jason
    what a wonderful post! I share some of your story as well and could relate. Letting go of the past is a hard one and I am still in the process of doing just that. But it is hard. As sometimes it is scary as hell to. But it is needed. For us to enjoy the present. And letting go of the past can also mean letting go of an image of a person. an image that might not reflect reality. I am with you that I need to feel needed. And I am not sure what to do if I am not. I also have to be careful not to force “healing” on others who are not ready to face and let go of their past. I work with people who suffer from addictions and one of my favorite person to listen to on the topic is Dr. Gabor Mate. Just a wonderful man who discusses addictions in the context of attachment, early life experiences and brain chemistry. I love the idea of getting connected with the child in you. It is hard for me to do but I am trying. One book that changed my life in that regard is The mastery of love. I have a feeling that you would like it.

    • Thank you Emily, and thanks for sharing you story also.
      It is scary to try to let go. Especially if trauma is involved. In the instance of a death the memory is the only thing that remains and so the guilt comes from letting that go. How did I love this person if I try to forget the memory…its tough.
      Thanks for your suggestions. I am definitely looking for that book now!
      Jason

  2. The one I have the most is the Aversion. It doesn’t matter how much effort I put on to leave the past behind, I simply can’t. The feeling of being betrayed by someone you’re close with is just unimaginable, to the extent that it really affects me emotionally. I learned not to trust people easily.

    I’m the type of person that likes to run away rather than dealing and confronting with the whole situation. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I can’t let go of the past. I’ve learned that you can’t simply forget those painful memories just because you want to. The best way is to deal with it which I can’t seem to do it myself. I don’t know if I’m strong enough.

    I felt good after reading your story. Thank you for creating and sharing such a mind opening article =)

    • Hi Meina,
      Thank you so much for sharing your story. Betrayal is one of thee most difficult things to work through. With the betrayal comes a great deal of hurt and it can make you seriously start you have internal doubts about your own self worth. Those emotional scars stay within our system and impact seriously on our future, unless we recognize them and work to move on.

      Believe it or not the hardest part is recognizing the blockage in your life and you have done that! You are aware of the hindrance and have been strong and openly stated it, this is called confronting the hindrance and is a huge step.

      The next step is to begin to let it clear. And while this may sound simple, don’t force it. The more you think “I must move on I must move on!” The less likely it is to happen because you are feeding that past memory and actually refreshing it.

      Start with some positive affirmations. Say to yourself (Out loud and in front of a mirror if you can) – ” I am a beautiful being of light, I deserve happiness, I am happy, I deserve love, I love myself, I am a beautiful being of light. Then start to try some gentle meditation. Make it a place you love to be. A comfy spot, put on the most beautiful music you can find, flowers, incense – anything that makes you feel good and special and safe. Then just sit and focus on being. Focus on your breathe in and out…if thoughts come don’y worry just refocus all your mind onto your breathe ina nd out…

      You will find after a few moments you start to relax and feel good.

      Meina you deserve love and happiness, you deserve to be respected and treated fairly and kindly. So start today and give some love to yourself and the wonderful person you are.

      All my love and blessings are with you

      Jason

      • I’ve said that many times myself. Only one thing I can’t figure out is, why was that whenever those memories pop up, I am the one that felt guilty. It wasn’t even me doing it. I think an apolgy from that person is needed in order for me to move on. I’m not even sure if I can’t say “I forgive you”. Forgive and forget isn’t my thing, really. I guess only time will heal everything. I just can’t force myself to do things my heart doesn’t follow.

        Thank you for your advice. I really apreciate it =)

        • Hi Meina,
          Sadly that is often the case, the person that has done no wrong is the person left with the emotional turmoil. It simply means you valued and value that aspect of life and much of the time the hurt caused by the other person is amplified and made worse because of their lack of consideration and lack of apology.

          All I can suggest darling is you accept the fact that it may never come and also look at yourself as the strong and independent person you are that deserves respect. As hard as it is if that other person cant respect you enough to offer an apology then they aren’t worth your time or consideration.

          It is easier said than done…trust me I know. I held on for years to love that was never going to be returned. In your situation it doesn’t matter if it was love, or a friendship or a classmate or a workmate, our emotions trigger the same way. I dont think you need to forget, I’m not sure it’s even possible but you need to let it go and release that energy or it will eat you up.

          A dear friend of mine, who I never met but we talk on here like this, gave me some awesome advice…let that negative energy and sad emotions go into the earth. Put it under a rock, let it go into the river or water. Then meditate a bit and give yourself the love you deserve.

          Sending you lots of love and best wishes
          Jason

  3. Hi Jason,

    This post on How to Let Go of the Past is such a needed one for so many.

    I honor you for being both humble and vulnerable enough to share with us your story of lost love and how it ultimately freed you to go within and give all that healing love to yourself.

    Your in-depth explanation of the Buddhist teachings of the 5 Hindrances is also very informative, and from my own past life experiences I can say that much of this is so true as being the blocks that can prevent us from freedom.

    I’d also like to say how much I really like the name of your domain name! Quite perfect!

    Many continued blessings for your Jason.

    Warmly,
    Heather

    • Hi Heather,

      Thank you so much for your comments and taking the time to write in. I’m really very touched by your words so my thanks to you again!

      Like many others I guess, I found that during this time my blockages were really doing serious damage to my health, I didn’t recognize it at the time – all I felt was hurt, betrayed and rejected – however I had to finally admit feeling this way, while perfectly natural, was only effecting me! In fact I was internally beating myself – why aren’t I good enough, whats wrong with me, why do I fail…terrible stuff to do to yourself.

      It wasn’t until, as you say, I started to look inside and give back the love to myself that I could say actually I am worthy, I am a good person, I do deserve love and happiness and if person X doesn’t want that or want to be with me then that’s OK, wish them love and move on.

      Took a while! Thank you again for writing in and thank you for your comments on domain name also. Some people wonder, I think, if I have my grammar wrong but to me once we heal and love ourselves we then have the ability to help, nuture and support others and most definitely are healthynatured!

      Thank you Heather, much love and many blessings to you

      Jason

Click on a tab to select how you'd like to leave your comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.