6 Ways to Let Go of The Past
“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die”
– Carrie Fisher
Let’s face it, we’ve all been hurt and upset by others and it’s easy to harbor resentment and anger. But the cost we face is a strong negative impact which makes us feel even more pain. Today, I want to share with you 6 ways to help you let go.
But first, let’s talk about the alternative to letting go of resentment, because I want to help you get motivated. Holding on to resentment offers the following negative things: anger, depression, anxiety, deeper traumatization, poor choices, and decline in functionality and relationship. Letting go on the other hand, can begin the healing process for the hurt you’ve experienced. Now, it’s important to be clear that I am not talking about or demanding forgiveness. What I am referring to here is the self-consumption that resentment causes and how it impacts you.
Why is it so hard to let go? Our brain is wired to protect us. Thus, when we experience a hurt, our brain makes a note and tries its best to avoid the situation ever again. This has great benefits, but can also backfire in times that we can simply let the pain and anger go. While holding on allows us to learn from the past, it also sometimes keeps us stuck there. What basically then happens is that the adaptive part of holding on to the past backfires on us. So let’s talk about 6 ways to let it go.
How to Let Go of The Past:
1) Resentment is an addiction
Understand what is at play here. We begin to ruminate and only think about our hurt, this is what our brain does to protect us, but is it really working?
2) We cannot change the past
We often think that by constantly recalling the pain, this will somehow change the situation. Unfortunately, this does nothing except to divert more of our strength and energy into something that we have no control over.
3) It’s an illusion of strength
We feel that if I am angry and resentful then I am in control, but the truth is that really the resentment owns and controls you when you are in that mindset. Real strength comes from moving forward.
4) Be aware of your own need
The resentment is there to tell you that something is wrong. Take the message, make the appropriate changes and move on! Learn to be aware of your own needs. In times of HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired) it is especially more difficult to forget our resentments. It is thus better to call a timeout and address your needs, before saying or doing something that you will regret.
5) Stop blaming yourself BUT do take responsibility
Often resentment is simply self-blame, “How could I have been so stupid”, “If only I would have said/done something else…” Thus, the resentment is really anger at ourselves. Take a moment to recognize this, and stop blaming yourself. At the same time, learn from your mistakes and your contributing role (if any) and move forward. We all make mistakes.
6) Meet halfway or get away
Make no mistake, resentment can and will corrode your life and relationships. So you do need to decide, either meet halfway and share responsibility or get away from the situation, because you will not be able to resolve it.
If you’re feeling resentment, communicate your hurt, ask the other person to hear you out. If hurtful things are said, you do not have to listen, especially if the words are inappropriate and unacceptable. However, train yourself to hear the other person’s own hurt instead of their insults. It will help you better navigate how to resolve the situation. Give these suggestions a try, they will enhance your life and free up your emotional space.
Don’t wait for others to validate you or to apologize to you. Let go of the resentment that is eating you inside. Engage in self-validation to acknowledge your hurt. It’s so hard to overcome resentment, but we can do it—it is possible! Let your motivation be the knowledge that in the end, holding onto resentment will just cause more suffering for YOU.