How To Move On From Your Past
Updated: Mar 14, 2019
How do we move on from events that have happened in our lives? How do we recover from the negative emotions memories both good and bad give us? It's such a tough thing to do and if anything can be overwhelming to even contemplate, and that's even if you feel ready to even attempt it. Ultimately, you have to eventually. You have to move on or you will be trapped in the past and that's not where you ever want to be. This article will explain to you just why you do think about the past, why you are stuck and how to get out and start living in the present again free from the anxiety and pain of the past.
OK so, why do we think of the past? What's the point? Do we pine for happier times? Well we can but what would be the point? As much as it hurts to say, there is no going back. But that's not good enough for us. Simply saying that the past is the past simply washes over us and we are right back in there feeling sad, wishing things had turned out differently. You know those times when you are going about your day and suddenly a vision or memory flashes into your brain and makes you feel down? How do you escape that? It's awful and affects what we are doing at the time especially if we are attempting to do something right and positive.
The reason you are feeling these memories is because you have memories and the emotion that comes from it is stuck in a particular part of your mind where some memories are. There's two massive stages of memory; there's the reptilian visual-based memory where negative emotion lies (often characterised as the right side of the brain) and the more analytical memories where we apply reason and logic to things (characterised as the left side of the brain). Often the reason why such negative emotions are in the right side is because we either haven't dealt with them or we have misunderstood the meaning of the memory being there. Often both are the reasons. A reason for those memories to linger in there is that it is there where we feel that hope that things will turn out differently lies. But reality does not live there so that hope is painful because it isn't true. Memories left there make you out to be a victim, powerless to what happens to you. That's why those memories flash into your mind; they are raw, unadressed, painful and our brain reminds us of that. We need to address that.
The brain is essentially to blame but it is also essentially giving you clues. We think when we look back at the past at negative events and how bad it made/makes us feel is so we can look objectively at it, try to see it in a different light. Is that why the brain keeps flashing the memories at us? No. That's not the reason why those negative memories are in the visual and painful side of the brain. The only reason we need to look back on the past is so we can learn from it to make our future better. That's the reason we look back on the past.
If you haven't learned from past events then you will feel anxious and the brain responds to not learning by unleashing Cortisol (the stress hormone) into your system and things only get worse. If you still feel negative emotions when looking back on something that happened a few months, a year or two years ago then you are carrying more and more emotional baggage as you go along. You haven't dealt with the problem; you haven't learned sufficiently so that the pain won't happen again.
Why learn though? Why learn at all especially if you feel what happened wasn't your fault? The reason you need to learn and your brain wants to learn is that in some way voluntarily or involuntarily you are to blame in some way. You are to blame in that you stumbled blindly into that ditch of a situation and you could have done something before to stop feeling the terrible pain. Your reactions could have been different. This isn't to say you should feel bad about yourself because you didn't realise it at the time. But you need to realise it now! You can't go on through life blindly hoping that situation doesn't happen again. Your brain won't feel that is sufficient and so it flashes those memories, keeps you in a state of angst and fear until you actually look and learn from the past.
So how do you learn? Well you need to know what to learn. You first accept that you had something to do with it; be it in your reactions or the reason you felt or were put in a state of emotional pain. You learn what you could have done differently. You accept you need to straighten out your past. You need to analyze the causal chains of what happened that made you fall, why the situation happened. You need to know what obstacles are in your environment that you need to overcome or sort out. You need to know how to organize all of this. I personally recommend writing your thoughts down because it will help structure your thoughts and rather leave your past as an emotional feeling it becomes an articulated contribution for the plan for your future and that frees you from your past.
Once you learn from your past you can learn to master it for the future. It's like coming into contact with fire for the first time. You burn your hands but that doesn't mean you run away with it. You master fire instead and you become stronger, braver and more powerful. That's what to do with the negative aspects of your past. You master them by learning from them so that you aren't blind any more. Events are only dangerous to you in their risks depending on your level of mastery. Your brain is crying out for that mastery which is why it flashes the images towards you. Analysis, mastery and peace from your past will stop the negative emotions and ruminating on the past dead in its tracks. This is called 'wisdom'.
You need to free yourself from your past in order to use all of your resources for the future. That's why you sometimes feel overwhelmed when elements of the present start to hit you. You have part of your soul stuck in the past not because you want to go back to it but because you haven't yet learnt from it analyticaly and carefully for you to feel braver for the things to come. Once you free yourself from the past the future will look so much less daunting and you will embrace what comes your way with a full and honest vision.
Free yourself from your past. Move on as soon as you have learnt from it. Master the fear that came from that situation so that the danger of the future is lessened so that you get braver. Your brain is asking you, telling you, willing you to learn. Turn the emotion of the past into something tangible whether that's through writing it all down autobiographically, speaking it out loud to yourself or something similar. Your brain will then release you from what's holding you back and you will learn to laugh, love and live again.