We’ve all made mistakes and had bad experiences, and we’d be liars if we said we hadn’t. But great people don’t spend their time dwelling on the past; instead, they focus on the present and plot a better future.
You can’t change the past; all you can do is learn from it, forgive and move on. Naturally, moving on from the past doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, and it requires effort. And if you’re looking to let go of the past and start focusing on the future, here are 10 top tips on how to do just that.
The Past Is The Past – Remember That
It sounds obvious and simplistic, but a lot of people too easily forget that the past is done and can’t be undone or redone. What you need to do is finally get your head around the fact that the past really is just that – the past. It can’t be accessed, and you can’t change anything about it.
Once you start realising this, you’ll start to heal. You’ll stop hurting yourself with questions such as, “But what if I had done this or that?” and focus on the present and the future. The more you accept that you can’t change anything that has happened, the more you’ll be able to find closure.
Accept That Your Past Is Part Of Who You Are
Think about all the people that inspire you the most with their fascinating, compelling and perhaps successful lives.
Then ask yourself whether you think they’d be who they are if they had erased part of their past?
Oprah Winfrey was raised by a single mom in a poor neighbourhood because her father wanted out. You could say she got off to the worst possible start in life, but her past helped to make her who she is today. It instilled her with values and a sharp sense of what is right and wrong.
Everything you have done so far has made you who you are. Accept this.
Believe In What You Are Doing
Forget your past for one moment and train your thoughts on your purpose. Believe in what you are doing. You might have made mistakes previously, but so has everyone. Abraham Lincoln suffered numerous setbacks before he finally become the President. He carried on because he believed in his purpose.
Create A Re-Do List
You can’t change anything about the past, but you can learn from the past.
You should take a bit of time to write down a re-do list. This is basically a list of all the things you’ve done wrong that you’re now going to amend by writing down how you differently you would do them if you could go back in time.
This is essential for helping us to learn from mistakes. If you don’t analyse where you have gone wrong in the past, you might commit the same errors again and again.
Writing a re-do list is incredibly affirming; you’ll feel great knowing that you’ve provided a positive solution.
Remember That You Tried Your Best
It’s really easy to beat ourselves up about missed opportunities. Perhaps you didn’t get that job you really wanted, or maybe your first date didn’t go as well as you would have liked.
But rather than keep hurting yourself, remind yourself instead that you did the best you could at the time. Okay, maybe you could have done better – and maybe you will do better next time – but remember how you felt during those moments. Did you feel nervous during the first date? So, what more could you have done?
Whatever were the reasons behind your performances, cut yourself some slack and learn from them.
Put Things Down In Words
I thought it was stupid advice when my friend told me to put down what was bothering on paper before shredding and binning it all.
But, hey, it felt SO good.
Shrink The Past
A common trick employed by psychologists who are treating people struggling to get over past experiences is to ask them to picture a bad experience that is playing on their mind. When you create a mental image of something, you can see it vividly in your head. It doesn’t necessarily feel so great! You see it, hear it and feel it right in front of your eyes.
What you then need to do is grab this image and drain it of colour while removing all sound. So now all you’ve got is a rough, black and white, fuzzy, muted playback of your bad experience.
Then, you should shrink it so that it becomes a tiny square in the corner of your mind. If you can do this each time your thoughts start to wander to your past, it will always be a small, black and white, muted image in a remote corner of your mind. It will be meaningless!
Free Yourself From Negative People
Perhaps there are people in your life who enjoy reminding you of your past.
“Hey, remember that time when you …” they say with a grin and a chuckle.
You don’t need these people around you. Spend less time with the cynics and more time with fresh, positive faces.
Put A Positive Spin On Things
I had a friend who had a really bad hangover that put him off drinking altogether. He said the experience had really frightened him, and he seriously thought he’d done some internal damage.
He went six months without another drink, which was unusual for him because he was usually the life and the soul of the party.
He came up to me and told me how this one episode had changed his life for the worse. “I don’t go to bars and clubs anymore. I have nothing to look forward to. All I can think of is the hangovers, and I can’t face them anymore.”
Sure, he’d had a nasty experience but I told him to look at the positives. He no longer drank, so he was healthier than he’d ever been. He’d saved a heck of a lot of money too, and was making more money as well.
Sometimes, this is what you need to do. You need to look back on a negative experience, and ask find the positives that came out of it.
Make New Memories!
The best way to stop dwelling on the past? Make brand new, awesome memories! Live your life without regret. Enjoy it while it lasts.