How to Stop Living in the Past?

man standing on train platform with training going by

Past archetypes. Past relationships. Past habits. Past Jobs.

We hear it, may understand the words, but the actions are often much harder to follow through with. We often get stuck living in the past when it comes to relationships.

This could be romantic, family, friends or work relationship. While each is a different kind of relationship that requires different energy, they are all long term commitments where have given ourselves and when they end sometimes we get stuck analyzing what went wrong and living in the past.

woman holding a cell phone sitting next to a window

As I’ve become older I realize time is my most precious commodity. We cannot get it back. We cannot make more. We need to be in the moment and appreciate it as it is. We put time and effort into maintaining an intimate relationship with another person.

We give our time to our bosses in the office or to our personal passions as an entrepreneur. Although sometimes it may be forced, we put effort, energy and time into our families as well.

Its normal to care about these relationships, however when they end we sometimes don’t know how to move on gracefully and leave them in the past, which is necessary for us to continue to grow as individuals.

When we give our time and effort into most things in life, we form a connection or an attachment. It helps define who we are and helps give us purpose. We are hardwired for connection, it is in our DNA.

When these connections fail or no longer serve us we are often left with a feeling of loss, guilt and shame that are associated with the ending of such connection that helped define us. We may become lost without these defining relationships from the past.   

The key to a graceful transition out of the past into the future is knowing yourself, your values, your priorities and your purpose.

To stop living in the past, you need to first take stock on where you are. What has happened to bring you to this place? Only then, can you move forward.

Be careful though…because just as necessary as self examination is to the recovery process (and moving on) it can also be a trap.

For example, let’s take a look at someone who is struggling to overcome a failed relationship. If it did not work out, look as objectively as you can at why it didn’t work. Consider it may not have meant to be. Ask yourself, what did I learn from this relationship? What skills do I take forward?

What did I like, and what did not work at all? If  we dig deep and ask ourselves these questions we can become more clear why our past actions lead to past situations that ultimately had to come to an end if we are to continue growing, evolving and becoming the people we are meant to be during our short time on this earth.

We are often programed to analyze the situation. What went wrong? how can I fix it? what can I have done different? And these are all valid questions and points of reference that should be made.

However getting stuck in analyzing and going over the negative aspects of the relationship can lead to dark times. It’s much more helpful if we turn our focus on how to do it differently. Take actions and the steps to have a different outcome.

woman looking into the camera hiding half her face with a sweater

If we continue to play the same loop of failure analyzing every detail of how it could be done different, we don’t actually get into the mode of making a new reality. A positive reality.

This is a point where owning our energy in every day interactions is so important. We all know the feeling of walking into a room and feeling amazing and unstoppable. We also know the feeling of walking into a room and sensing somebody who is angry, stuck, rehashing their own issue and talking about it for you to relive it and feel as well.

This is energy being used the wrong way. If we own our energy and what we bring to every interaction with every person we can help keep ourselves in check and avoid getting stuck in bad energy of the past.

It’s not easy to move on.

However, if we think of it in terms of energy, we must stop thinking about the same old cycle that gave us the problem and add new thoughts, positive thoughts, positive energy. These will attract more positivity to our life. Its physics.

We get back what we give off. Every action has an equal reaction. If we get stuck spinning in a negative cycle analyzing the past, its best to gently pull your attention to it. Don’t beat yourself up, but change the thought process.

Take a moment and be grateful for what we do have today. Even in the midst of a failure, step back, take a breath and find one thing positive. That slight pause gives us enough time to switch our thoughts and our energy and redirect.

Throughout the day you may fall into these negative loops without even knowing it. It is habit. Remember that the past no longer exists. It happened. We can’t change it.  We must accept that. Maybe an easy phrase, yet hard to do in practice in the moment. But what good does it do to pull up the past repeatedly if it is negative?

Our thoughts are so powerful and when we keep them in the present, the only real moment that matters, we ground and become our authentic selves. We can plan for the future, but it is not for certain. The future is not promised. We may not have another 5 years, 5 days, 5 minutes. Facts!

We can set ourselves up with habits and lifestyle that will help us get to where we want, meet the people we want, achieve the goals we want to have, get to the job we want, but if we do not stay in the present moment daily, we are not living authentically in the present moment.

I struggled with staying present in my younger years. I was a planner, OCD almost. I wanted everything to be perfect, from my appearance to my performance. I would plan vacations and I would plan dates, down to that week, even down to the hour.

While this is great for managing in the office, this does not work in real life. Every day life throws us curves balls. Every day life doesn’t have our playbook. There are times when nothing will go our way.

In these moments we must accept that.  feeling negative energy does nothing to solve the current situation. Accept it, Move On, make the next moment better. Take a breath. Go outside. Be grateful in that moment for what you do have and for what is going right.

While the past actions did get us to where you are right now, we cannot go back.

We can’t change anything. Acceptance in this moment is huge. Every moment we stay stuck in the past is energy taken from the current situation and going forward.

A mindset that I have adopted over time to move on from failures in my life is asking myself what lessons did I learn? How did that experience teach me something to go forward and not repeat this? How can I do it better this next time?

Every situation in my life that seemed to be a failure, I now look at as knowledge I gained. A life lesson learned. This has dramatically shifted my energy in life and how I deal with every day problems.

Even while sitting in traffic when I think I am late to something, I accept that this is exactly where I’m supposed to be and I cannot change it, so why spin out on negative energy. I take this time to meditate on something positive.

We can’t speed up traffic, so accept it. Maybe the failure of that relationship was so we can meet the one that does uplift us and support us as we need. Maybe that job, while it had security of a paycheck, was not utilizing my skills. A quote I like to live bye from a recent meme is, “I had to make it uncomfortable so that you would change,  You’re Welcome – the Universe/God.”

We do not make changes unless it is uncomfortable. If we were supposed to be living in the past we probably would’ve stayed there. Maybe there were some great parts, take those forward, But don’t hold onto old ideas, old habits, old relationships that no longer serve you.

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