Ever notice how some people seem to face difficult times and move on. While others seem to get stuck in the painful past event. Never able to recover.
I know many of us have that friend or acquaintance that always wants to talk about how they were wronged. Or want to rehash old relationships and spend the time blaming the other person. At the same time there are those that handle the hard time and move on without looking back.
And then there is where most of us end up. We have let most of our past emotional wounds go. But there are those remaining bits that are stuck and we can't seem to let go of. And they are now blocking us from doing what we want.
I am going to share with you what I have found successful in moving past old pain. But first let's look at why we even get stuck in the first place.
Why We Get Stuck in The Past
There are many reasons that we can get stuck in the past. Depending on the situation itself, our own personality and many other factors.
But from my experience these are some of the common ones.
Ways to Let Go of the Past
It is hard to get yourself unstuck when you don’t even realize you are stuck! It is a catch 22, because without knowing you are stuck you can’t get unstuck. But we tend to be wired to only see what confirms our beliefs. So, we don’t see we are stuck because we believe everything, we are telling ourselves!
Luckily there is a tool to help you see this. And that is paying attention to your thoughts.
How do you do this? As you go through the day, anytime you notice a negative thought, write it down. Later when you have time you can go back and journal about it to understand it.
For example, this week I was reviewing some marketing. After looking at the good things, my immediate thought was “but I won’t be able to replicate that in the future.” So, I wrote it down and the next morning explored why that was the first thought.
Some tips to help you recognize when you might need to write something down.
This will take some practice to catch the thoughts, as they become part of our habit of thinking. But once you train yourself to catch those thoughts, it speeds up the emotional healing process.
Understand Where You Have Control
It is easy to get stuck in the past when we feel helpless and have no control. Understanding what you can control will help you to focus on what you can impact. And at the same time release what you can’t change.
How to do this?
Grab your journal and pick a situation you are struggling with. Then write down everything you control and everything you don’t control. Then start working on releasing the one you can’t control.
What are You Getting from Being Stuck?
This often makes no sense. Why would you want to be stuck in something painful? But the reality is we gain something from the pain.
Perhaps you get the attention you have been craving. Maybe it stops you from having to face your fear of success.
Start by creating a list of everything that you get from staying in the past pain. Then you can take the list and go through it to identify what you can do to receive the benefits of in a healthy way.
Gratitude forces us to pay attention to what is good in the here and now. Making us leave behind the past negative thoughts even if just for a moment. There is research showing that gratitude will help change your time focus.
When we are past focused, and future focused it can create emotional health issues. But in the now, it is easier to be happy. If you want to learn more about this, I recommend the book Time Paradox. It was one of those books I read 13 years ago, and still reference it!
A simple gratitude practice is to write down three things you are grateful for before bed each night. Try to keep them to things you are grateful for that happened that day. The more specific the better! And it can be as simple as “I am grateful for the extra five minutes I had this morning.”
Physically Move Your Body
This is great for when you are ruminating about past events. Stand up and start moving. This doesn’t have to be a full exercise session. You can walk around your office, or your yard. The goal is to just move!
This does two things:
Go to Counseling or Get a Coach
As we have touched on before, it can be hard to see where we are stuck. Sometimes you need outside help to see what you can’t see. Having someone help you process what you are feeling and fully heal the pain is the best way to make progress forward.
Journal Prompts To Get You Unstuck From Past
Journaling is a great way to get a different perspective on your past. When we journal, we allow ourselves to discover more about ourselves. Thus, helping us move on. Use these journal prompts to help you explore past situations that you may still need to get over.
Remember to be gentle with yourself during this entire process. There is no timeline on overcoming past hurts. Allow yourself to feel the emotions and heal the right way. Then you can confidently move forward and not worry about the past coming back to get in your way.
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