How to Let go of past and move on in life

How to let go of your past and move on in life

The key is to let go of the experience, but hold on to the lesson.

Why is it so difficult to let go of past experiences that have caused us pain and suffering? We often find negative memories from the past coming back to haunt us. The memories of a toxic relationship, the loss of a loved one, a severe trauma, or other kinds of emotional pain can make you a prisoner of your own mind. You keep revisiting these events because they often remain unresolved, misunderstood or unaccepted in your mind.

In some cases, however, the past can impact your life in positive ways, too. It can help you reevaluate your actions and stop you from making the same mistakes in the future. The key is to let go of the experience, but hold on to the lesson. You can break free from the shackles of the past and live freely in the present by adopting some habits that encourage you to focus on the ‘here and now,’ while at the same time help you gain clarity on your future goals.

Here are some effective ways you can liberate yourself from the clutches of your past.

Take responsibility for your mistakes

The first step towards letting go of the past is to confront unresolved painful memories. This is possible when you are willing to accept your mistakes, evaluate what went wrong, and learn from the experience. This approach will help you develop a positive outlook and inspire you to take ownership of your mistakes, thus helping you to move on.

Assess your negative emotions

Reflect on your past and narrow down on factors that are holding you back. These could be shame, guilt, regret, anger, lack of motivation and self-doubt. Evaluate the root cause of these negative emotions. Challenging your deep-rooted beliefs and influences can help you move on in life. Oftentimes, we make a mountain out of a molehill by overthinking a situation. Instead, looking at the past through the lens of objectivity and optimism can enable you to identify the real issue—however small or big—and resolve it.

Focus on self-improvement

Developing a habit of learning from your failures makes you stronger and more grounded as you go. And while it may not eliminate your negative feelings from the past, it can certainly prevent things from deteriorating in the future. Train your mind to be inspired, energetic and happy. Make an action plan and break each objective into smaller, quantifiable steps. Creating tangible goals will increase your chances of success in the future. Make self-improvement your priority and try to accomplish something every day to take you closer to your goals.

Live in the present

Focus on living in your present and planning for the future. The best way forward is to involve yourself in something you are passionate and enthusiastic about. For instance, take up a new hobby or volunteering activity that you find fulfilling. Keep yourself active and appreciate the little joys of life. Go on adventures, make new friends or get involved in causes you believe in. Whatever it is, just focus on living in the moment. Even when unpleasant memories from the past creep in, make a conscious effort to bring yourself back into the present moment. Research demonstrates that “characteristically thinking about the past is disadvantageous, thinking about the future is advantageous, and thinking about the present has mixed outcomes.”

Practice mindfulness

Painful memories, stress, regret, and other past stressors can severely affect your mental wellbeing. That’s why a decluttered and balanced mind is an absolute necessity to let go of the past. Mindfulness meditation is an effective pay to stabilize your mind. Practicing mindfulness meditation can be a great step in this direction. If your mind is tempted to ruminate over a thought, come back to your breathing and focus on your senses. The art of mindfulness can help prevent painful memories from perturbing you and destroying your inner peace.

Love yourself

Past mistakes can leave you overwhelmed with emotions of anger, fear and self-loathing. In such situations, treat yourself as you would treat a loved one. Focus on the things you like about yourself and those that remind you of your uniqueness. Also, try getting enough sleep, eat well and exercise regularly, especially when dealing with past stress. Practice self-love to liberate yourself from the past and find happiness and inner peace.

Engage with positive people

Avoid negative people and those who constantly remind you about your past mistakes. Replace them with positive and inspiring people who motivate you to become a better version of yourself. Talking to a trusted friend or a family member can allow you to vent your negative feelings from the past. Therefore, the more you engage with positive people, the better you will feel in your present life and the pain from the past will simply fade away.

Learn to forgive

It is quite normal to hold onto anger if someone has hurt you in the past. However, there are major psychological benefits associated with forgiveness. If someone has hurt you or wronged you in the past, don’t focus on retaliating or seeking revenge. While you may think it would be satisfying to see the person get hurt, you will feel better in the long run if you choose to move on. Forgive those who have caused you pain for your own wellbeing. Most importantly, forgive yourself, too. When you forgive, you are no longer carrying the burden of anger and resentment, and you will be able to move on and live your best life.


Why is it difficult to let go of past experiences that have caused pain?

Negative memories can haunt us due to unresolved, misunderstood, or unaccepted events from the past, leading to emotional pain and suffering.

How can the past impact life positively?

While negative memories can hinder growth, positive lessons from the past can inspire self-improvement and guide future actions.

What approach helps in moving on from the past?

To move forward, it’s essential to let go of the experience while retaining the lesson. Embracing habits that focus on the present and future can help break free from the clutches of the past.

How can one let go of unresolved painful memories?

Confronting the past requires accepting mistakes, understanding what went wrong, and learning from the experience. This leads to personal growth and empowers one to move forward.


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