10 Tips on How to Psychologically Deal with Your Past

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10 Tips on How to Psychologically Deal with Your Past

The things we experience our childhood and adolescence stick with us for the rest of lives. It is a time when our brains are being hardwired to develop certain thought patterns and habits. Among these patterns are the ones that define how we think about our own selves. It determines how we perceive our strengths and weaknesses, how we see our self-worth, and even what we think others think about us.

These thought patterns have an enormous impact on our lives. They affect how well we do academically, how successful we are in our careers and the kind of personal relationships we form.

Sometimes, if we have had to face challenging times or unhealthy relationships in our younger years, they might halt our growth in the future.

For example, having an emotionally abusive relationship with your parents can hurt your self-worth. You may always see yourself from their eyes, their negative comments become your inner voices and come to haunt you every time you are about to make an important move in your life.

Maybe you have had some dishonest or unfaithful friends. It can lead you to develop trust issues and you might ruin a good relationship because of that.

So what can you do? How can you release yourself from the unforgiving claws of your past? How can you stop what was from interfering in what is?

As with all matters of the mind, there is no quick one-step solution. Since these thought patterns have developed over time, they need proportional time and energy to fix.

Imagine that you are in the middle of a tug of war at all times. Only, you are the rope and at the opposite ends is your past and your future. Both are pulling you furiously towards them to win the game. However, it is your choice on which side you put more weight and which side you let loose.

To move towards the future or even stabilize yourself in the present, you have to let go of the past. The past is a formidable opponent. It has tremendous weight on its own. A lot of baggage, a lot of emotions and attachments that hold you back. So the future needs a little help from you to win.

Here are some tips and habits that can help you psychologically detach yourself from the past.


1. Know your reasons for detachment from your past

What are the reasons that have enticed you to think about detaching from your past? Is it just a whim, a momentary phase of frustration from yourself or are you really ready to let go of the things and people that are holding you back?

Make you start working towards detachment when you have nailed down the whats and whys of the process. Take time for introspection and try to objectively analyze what are the things from your past that you are carrying around still.

Sometimes our unconditional love for some people and places doesn’t let us see how they have unconsciously had a negative effect on our personalities.

Taking a conscious trip down the memory lane may come with its set of revelations. Looking back may make you realize that things weren’t as they seemed. It may also start a chain reaction of if onlys and what-ifs. Do not let this overwhelm you.

It is important to realize here that you yourself and other people were different people back then. So do not start a new chain of blaming yourself and other people. This exercise is just for objectively identifying where your current issues are originating from and why they have become issues in the first place.

Try to refrain from getting caught up in the emotions of anger and resentment from the past.

2. Hold yourself accountable

A critical analysis of yourself and your circumstances requires that you hold yourself accountable as well. Really try to see if you have a habit a falling into a circle of negativity.

Everyone goes through ups and downs in their life. We all have skeletons in our closets. But do you dwell on the past more than other people? Do you use it as a defense mechanism or an excuse to avoid moving forward? Maybe you let the bad memories easily get to you? These are all important questions to ask your self.

Sometimes, you may even realize that things were not as bad as they seem in your head. This is not to undermine the pain or hurt you feel, but to put your life events in perspective.

Realizing that you are overestimating the weight of your baggage will immediately make you feel lighter. It will make the process of moving on much easier.

3. Prioritize your emotional baggage

There may be different forms of emotional baggage that you are carrying around. Some things are easier to deal with than others. It all depends on how much attachment you have with a certain person or event.

Since the process of detaching from the past is overwhelming, it might be prudent to start with baby steps.

Smaller grudges or resentments may be easier to deal with than emotional trauma. Perhaps the baggage you have with your family weighs a lot more than the one with your friend? Start with the latter first. Deleting some chronically toxic people from your social media may be a good start than forgiving a significant other who cheated on you. Deal with smaller issues first.

Think of it as strength training. It is like taking on lesser pain to build your endurance for the greater one. Needless to say that the process of detachment is not supposed to cause you pain rather it is supposed to heal you.

It might also be helpful to classify which people you want to cut out from your life and which people you want to mend your relationship with. Detachment doesn’t always mean cutting out.

A lot of times all you need is a sit-down and a conversation with someone to work on your issues from the past. You might even end up rekindling great relationships.

4. Slowly start to let go

Once you have analyzed and prioritized what you need to do, it is time to start adopting techniques to let go of your past. Find an outlet for all those pent up emotions like anger, hurt, frustration and sadness.

As long as you are not hurting anyone, it is totally okay to let those emotions out in the open. Give yourself a window of crying or shouting. Sweep those feelings out of your system and then forbid yourself from going back to them.

However, there are many other ways to express yourself as well. Write it all down, put it into a painting, start knitting, and join a karate class if you can’t bottle your anger. Whatever works the best for you.

It is better to take all the emotions from the past and channel them into something productive. That way you will create a self-driving system of detachment. The more time you will invest in productive activities the less time you will have to dwell on the past.

5. Give yourself time

As mentioned before, there are no shortcuts to the process of detachment from your past. It’s a long, sometimes arduous, road. But if you are fully committed to moving forward and feeling better, you will start to reap the fruits of your labor very soon.

Our mind is a creature of habit. Once it has been conditioned to fall into negative cycles, it takes effort to put it back on track. Do not get frustrated with yourself if you find yourself feeling angry and upset over the past during your process of detachment.

The important thing is to pull yourself back to the present whenever that happens. Acknowledge the fact that you are on the road to recovery and pat yourself on the back for investing time and energy in your growth.


6. Condition your mind to think positively

To bring your mind out of its default setting of thinking negatively and dwelling on the past, set up little challenges for yourself. For every time you think about the past in a negative way, force yourself to think of two positive thoughts. They can be about the past or the present. The important thing is that you don’t let your mind wander off into the downward spiral of bad memories.

Practicing gratitude is also a great way to train your mind to think positively. Saying thanks regularly for the countless blessing in your life can fill you with joy and happiness.  When you fill your mind with positive thoughts you deny any bad memories or negative thoughts space on your emotional bandwidth.

Whenever you find yourself going down the bad memory lane, remind yourself that whatever problems or challenges you faced back then, you overcame them. They are in the past and do not have the power to mess with your present.

This will help boost your self-confidence. It will make you feel stronger. It is all about shifting your mindset to a healthier one.

7. Think of the past as a teacher

No matter how much you dread your past, it is your life’s journey. It is the reason why you are what you are today. So it is vital to accept it as it is and own it.

Trials and tribulations in our past add so much richness to our personalities. They help us feel more, empathize more, be more appreciative and give us a set of skills to deal with tough circumstances.

Do your best to think of your past as a teacher rather than an enemy. Try to derive life lessons from your past that you can use in the present and in the future. If you think of it this way, having a tough past gives you an edge in life over people who have a smooth sail. Remember it is all about the perspective shift.


8. Embrace the power of forgiveness

The greatest and most effective tool of detachment from the past is forgiveness. It works in two ways. First, it is important to forgive all those people who did you wrong, who may have intentionally or unintentionally hurt you.

As difficult as a task it may be, you will feel like weight shifting off your shoulders when you let people off the hook. Holding on to grudges and resentment only exhausts your energies and gives air to negative vibes. Forgiving other people means that you are denying them any power over your emotions or how you behave.

The next step is forgiving yourself. Stop beating yourself about all the bad moves you made, if you intentionally or unintentionally hurt someone or if you let someone use you. Accept and make peace with your discretions and allow yourself redemption from your past self.

9. Focus on the present through meditation

Meditation is a great way to re-center your energy into the present. Through various deep breathing and body scan exercises, you can bring your attention back to the present moment.

It allows you to get rid of tensions from the past and anxiety of the future. Practicing meditation frequently can help you become the master of your own mind.

You will start feeling more relaxed and at peace with yourself. There are numerous resources available online that can help you get started.

10. Start working towards your future

If you follow all the steps described up till now, you would certainly put more weight towards the future in the tug of war.

After you have embarked on the journey of detachment from your past, you can now start defining meaningful goals for your future. The past might not have worked out for you but now is your time to turn your future in your favor.

Indulge in visualizing exercises and try to envision where you would like to be in a certain amount of time. Start setting up micro goals and work on them daily to make them a reality. Encountering little successes will also make you feel good about life and detach you from your past for good.