How to let go of the past and move forward.
Families are complex and all of us are bound to experience some negative emotions from things that happened as we were growing up. No matter how perfect, or insane our families were, we are bound to have baggage from childhood. It’s par for the course because no family is perfect. Even the most loving of parents who try to give the best to their kids, still screw them up in some way.
As a result, you might have developed feelings of sadness, disappointment, fears, and even hurt about your early years.
You’ve most likely heard the expression about carrying around “old baggage” with you. Baggage is an expression used when referring to unpleasant emotions and feelings we “carry” throughout our lives, unless, of course, we do something to let go of that baggage.
We all have baggage. Some of us have bigger bags than others. Letting go of old family hurts is critical to living a healthy life.
Following these steps can help free you from the limitations of your baggage:
1. Write a list of your hurts
Include every way that you’ve been hurt. Your list might be quite lengthy or it might be brief with just one or two items. Whichever the case, recording what you feel hurt about will help clarify what it is that’s bugging you. This will help you to think things through and understand yourself.
2. Go more in depth about each issue you listed
Specific to each item on your list, record how you felt at the time and how you feel about the situation now. The writing process will help you explore your feelings and identify how you truly feel about the past event. Writing helps unlock and tune into your subconscious self.
After completing this exercise, you may discover that you aren’t as upset now as you once were and realize that you can give yourself permission to let it go.
3. Recognize how this baggage is affecting you
Your emotional and physical well-being today could be related to things that happened in your past.
- Do you avoid getting too emotionally close to others for fear of being hurt?
- Do you jump in to relationships too quickly – only to find the other person not to be someone you would normally like to spend time with?
- Maybe you allow your anger to wear away at your close, loving relationships.
- Do you have unexplained health issues such as fatigue, bizarre pain or chronic inflammation?
Whatever it is, try to connect past situations with what you’re doing now to express the negative emotions from those events. Believe it or not negative emotions bottled up from the past can actually cause physical ailments in your present self.
4. Know you’re worth it
Digging into old hurts and removing them takes time and energy. So as you go through this process know that you are worth it. You’re worth living a live without all of that baggage. You deserve to have a life unfettered by wounds from your past.
5. Make a decision to let go
Tell yourself you’ll no longer be affected by something that happened so long ago. You might want to try these ways to help you let go.
- You could write your old hurts on small snippets of paper and put them in balloons. Then, blow up the balloons, take them outdoors, and let them go. As they float away, imagine your pain floating away, too.
- Another way to let go is to write them down on paper and burn the paper. As you watch your writings safely burn in your fireplace or a barbecue grill outdoors, visualize those hurts being burned up and disappearing from your life forever.
- Meditate on it and see yourself being thankful for what your past pain has taught you, and then let it go. For instance you could imagine your problems as the thistles of a milkweed. Hold them in your hand, be grateful then blow them away. Breathe deep.
6. Use perspective
From your adult viewpoint, you may now better understand what happened.
If that’s the case, consciously tell yourself that you now understand what occurred and why or how it happened. You’ve gained some insight into the issue. Now you can leave it in the past.
7. Commend yourself
Commend yourself for your efforts to let go of your emotional baggage. After all, it weighed you down for quite some time. Now you’re free of it. Praise yourself for an important job well done.
8. Know when to get help
If you go through these steps and find you still can’t let go of the baggage from your past it may be time to seek professional help. Professional psychologists and counselors have techniques they can use to help you go deeper into your old hurts to help work through them.
You’ll feel so much better when you release the painful feelings you’ve had for some time. Create the life you so deserve by banishing the past to where it belongs – in the past.