Growth | Written by: Jai Marie

How to Let Go: 10 Tips to Free Yourself From The Past

Holding on to pain does not serve you. Whether it’s the trauma we’ve experienced, people from our past, or thoughts we can’t seem to let go of, holding on to pain hurts us more than we realize. When we stay stuck in the past, we relive our pain over and over again.

It’s important to realize that we’re human and experiencing a range of emotions is a normal part of life. Eventually, you have to start thinking about letting go and moving on.

Why is Letting Go So Difficult?

You may find yourself wondering how you could possibly let go, especially if you’re holding on to something that caused a significant amount of damage. It could feel like you’ll never get over your past.

For example, if you were in a relationship with someone and the two of you broke up, you may still be holding on to what you had with this person. There’s an amount of certainty that comes with holding on to people we’ve parted ways with. We were comfortable and although the relationship has ended, we continue to cling to what we once had. 

Another example is how we carry around trauma. As much as it hurts, we can’t seem to release it. We may want to heal from our trauma but not know how to start. 

Moving on from trauma doesn’t mean what happened no longer hurts, it means you’re breaking free from what has kept you in a dark place. 

10 Tips for Letting Go

If you’re ready to let go but struggling with how to do it, here are 10 tips.

1. Give Your Feelings a Voice

Instead of hiding or repressing your feelings, give them a voice. Allowing yourself to feel your emotions can help you let go of them.

Find ways to work through your feelings. This could be talking it out with your friends, journaling about your thoughts, or crying it out.

Crying is healthy and helps you release negative feelings. Research shows that crying releases oxytocin and endogenous opioids, also known as endorphins. These are feel-good chemicals that can help soothe emotional pain. 

Journaling is a great way to give your feelings a voice. It allows you to release everything you’ve been holding on to and helps you feel at ease. When you journal, it’s important to let your thoughts flow seamlessly to get the most out of writing.

To read more about the benefits of journaling, check out this post.

2. Practice Acceptance

Realize that you can’t go back and change the past. You may spend hours overthinking about what should have happened or about how something hurt you. Spending too much time living in the past means you’re allowing it to control you.

Acknowledge your hurt and begin to accept what was. There’s nothing you can do to change what has already occurred. All you can do is let go and move on.

You have complete control over deciding to let the past control you. If you can’t change it, stop living there.

you cannot change the past

3. Forgive

Forgiveness is one of those things that’s easier said than done. When thinking about forgiving those who have caused you pain, it may seem like they don’t deserve your forgiveness.

It’s important to realize forgiveness isn’t for the other person, it’s for ourselves. Forgiveness allows you to free yourself from what happened so that you can move on.

Sometimes the person you need to forgive is yourself. Maybe you’re constantly blaming yourself for something that went wrong. Self-forgiveness is about realizing that it’s ok to make mistakes.

4. Give Meditation a Try

Meditation can help you detach from overwhelming thoughts, let go of people, and heal from trauma. During meditation, the focus should be on your breath and quieting your mind. It’s about learning to be in the present moment instead of being attached to the past. 

To start, find a quiet place and get comfortable. Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath. 

Next, imagine you’re out in nature on a cloudy day. Each cloud represents a harmful thought or feeling you have. As thoughts arrive, imagine placing your thought in a cloud and watching it drift away.

Continue to do this until you feel at ease. Over time, practicing meditation regularly will help you let go.

5. Create Time For Things That Bring You Joy

It’s common to lose yourself in the pain you may be feeling.

If you’ve forgotten about what makes you happy, it’s time to remind yourself. Finding time for joy can also serve as a creative outlet. 

When it comes to letting go, sometimes we need a distraction. Find a new hobby or take yourself out and do something fun. If you’re stuck on what to do, make a list of things you love doing or things you’ve been wanting to try. 

make time for what you enjoy

Finding time for joy is essential for moving forward. 

6. Find a Support System

Seek support from the people who love you. Opening up can be challenging but sharing your feelings with those who care about you can relieve some of the pain you’re feeling. 

It may also be helpful for them to give you their opinion or offer words of comfort. Your support system will be people who want what’s best for you so try to be open-minded when listening to their responses. 

If you don’t have anyone close to you to confide in, it can help to find an online community to go to for support.

7. Recite Positive Affirmations

When you find yourself ruminating over the past, take a moment to say a few positive affirmations. Affirmations are positive statements that can help you overcome negative thoughts. 

Being stuck in a cycle of negativity influences your mood which can impact your quality of life. Affirmations work by reframing your thinking. A few affirmations you can say are:

  • I let go

  • I release my need for control

  • I have everything I need

  • I am free from the burdens of my past

  • My past does not define me

  • I am free from worry

  • I accept the disappointments of my past 

  • I give myself permission to heal

You can start repeating these affirmations when you wake up in the morning or before bed. Over time, you will begin to see improvement in the way you think. 

8. Extend Compassion Towards Yourself

When someone hurts us and we forgive them, we show them compassion. It should be the same way when we make mistakes that harm us. Instead of criticizing yourself for not being able to let go, show yourself some compassion. 

Experiencing hurt is inevitable. Make the decision to be gentle with yourself as you begin to heal and move on. 

9. Create Distance

If you’re trying to let go of a person, create distance between you and them.

This might mean deleting them from social media or blocking their number. It can be tempting to want to keep up with what they’re doing but this can do more harm than good.

This distance will help with letting go because you’re not in contact with them which means you’re not constantly being reminded of them.

distance yourself from negative people

10. Seek Professional Help

Sometimes we’re doing everything we can to let go but still find ourselves struggling. Seeking help from a therapist can assist you in getting a grip on your painful experiences. If you feel shame about needing help, know that there is nothing wrong with seeing a therapist.

Therapy is a wonderful tool for healing and is a safe space to release everything you’re feeling. The right therapist will listen to you and be able to guide you in learning how to let go.

Let Go

Holding on is only destroying your well-being. Nothing is worth your peace of mind. Letting go doesn’t mean you rid yourself of all your pain, it means you’re allowing yourself to live presently. 

Letting go is the disentangling of excess baggage. 

It can be helpful to try and see things from a different perspective. Some people believe certain situations happen to us because we’re supposed to learn from them. Once you begin to shift your mindset, your reality will change.

You don’t have to stay stuck in a cycle of negativity. You can make the conscious decision to let go of what was and make room for what’s coming. 

Take it one day at a time and don’t feel the need to rush the process. Any form of healing takes time, whether you’re healing from a physical injury or an emotional one. Remember to give yourself permission to heal from what has been holding you back. 

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