5 Steps: Letting go of the past

6 mins read

Clench your fist, as hard as you can. Really squeeze it. Imagine something that makes you angry, upset or irritated. Notice the grip getting tighter. Really feel it. Now, let it go – both the grip and the feeling. Really let it go. 

That simple exercise is a way of mirroring what life itself feels like. That constant act of balancing between soft and hard. Of putting in the work one day, to relaxing the next. And this balancing act is one that we will need to uphold throughout our lives.

When we feel guilt, anger, sadness, jealousy – pretty much any negative emotion, we are holding on to the past. Gripping onto it like there’s no tomorrow, literally. But the reality is, there is, and you are already closer to that which has yet to happen than that which has already happened. Releasing that which does not serve you will leave you ready to embrace what does.

Learning from the past is one thing, unnecessarily carrying it around like a heavy backpack is another. Whether it is an argument with your friend, a break-up, an embarrassing moment or a failure, it is easy to become stagnant when processing negative emotions. So here are a few tips to help you surrender, to let go of the old, and allow for new things to grow.

  1. Write down exactly what you feel and why. 

Rather than trying to push them away, examine and accept the feelings that you have. They are valid and present within you at this point in time. Try to reflect over why you feel this way. What can you learn from this experience?  Decide what is worth bringing with you into the future and what you should let go of and leave in the past. 

Credit: Aine Donnellan
  1. Meditate on the act of forgiving.

In whatever way you find a state of meditation: be that in the traditional, cross-legged, closed-eye, silent-kind-of-way, or through running, boxing, surfing, dancing – while practising, try to bring the idea of forgiveness into your mind. What does it mean to truly forgive? How does it feel? Who is it that you need to forgive: yourself, or the other person? Maybe both? Keep playing with the concept in your head and you will find what you need to do.

  1. Talk to someone about it.

Now once you’ve taken the time to better understand your stagnant emotion, it is time to share it with someone else. Whether that someone is a professional, a loved one or a stranger, will depend on your personal needs. But sharing our trauma with other people takes some of the burden off our own shoulders. Getting a fresh perspective on our problems can be of monumental help in solving it – and if nothing else, being listened to always feels good. 

Credit: Aine Donnellan
  1. Get on your feet & get grooving.

Moving your body has an endless amount of benefits, physically, mentally and emotionally. So find a version that fits your mood and get grooving. If you’re into gymming, running or yoga – you know what to do. If you’re not, think outside of the box: why not learn how to shuffle through Youtube tutorials, or pick up Pokemon-Go again? There are so many ways in which we can bring more movement into our daily lives, so have a think of what you’d enjoy. 

5. Find your intentions & start working towards them.

When experiencing something difficult, it is easy to lose your way. You often end up feeling empty and confused. The best remedy to such a feeling – once you’ve gone through the steps of processing it – is to identify a few focal points you’d like to achieve and start working towards them. That can be anything from setting up daily rituals that you know serves you well, surrounding yourself with people that inspire you, learning a new silly skill or watching all the Harry Potter movies from start to end. Whatever makes your heart tingle, go for it!

Credit: Dirk Goldschmitt

Surrendering is never an easy thing to do – we are taught from a young age that giving up is never the right option. But sometimes it actually is – and the more you do it, the easier it will get. Giving up in the right circumstances shows maturity, courage and self-respect. So start today by checking in with yourself, locating any stagnant, negative energy and let the inner work begin!

Featured image credit: Aine Donnellan

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1 Comment

  1. One of the best ways to remove the emotional charge from a memory is to change it. Change the memory itself by inserting yourself into that memory, your now self and comforting yourself in that moment, creating distance from the original emotional reaction. This works for me.

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