Challenging and painful experiences in life are inevitable. But it’s all too common that we are negatively controlled by our past, rather than empowered with new perspectives and wisdom. Negative attachments and perceptions regarding our past can majorly affect and distort how we see ourselves, our future, and how we live our lives. Here are 5 ways to stop letting your past control you:
1) Recognize that you can’t change the past, you can only change how you view it
Whatever has happened to you, or happened in your life can not be changed. But what can be changed is how you view the experiences you’ve had. You can choose to let painful experiences and past traumas get the best of you, or you can change your perspective to see them as opportunities for growth: emotionally, mentally and even spiritually. When you open your mind to the growth and wisdom you can gain from the past, rather than let yourself be defeated by it, you will be empowered (rather than devoured— hehe).
2) Realize that every experience can provide a valuable lesson
With every experience, whether it be traumatic, disappointing or painful— there is always valuable (and sometimes even life-changing) lessons to be learned. Instead of viewing challenging past experiences as unfortunate events or set-backs, take time to reflect on what you have learned, and you will find at least one, if not a several new eye-opening perspectives that may empower you and help you through your future.
3) Don’t pretend the past didn’t happen
A common thing people tend to do is block out painful memories or pretend that certain experiences never happened. But denial of our past experiences can cause an unhealthy build-up of emotions like anger, frustration and sadness. We don’t need to try to re-write reality in order to not be controlled by our past. What we should do instead is accept that what happened in the past is over, and allow ourselves to grow from it.
4) Stop viewing yourself as a victim, and instead as a survivor
It is easy to get stuck in the mentality of being a victim, which is not only unhealthy but dis-empowering. We have a tendency to put more focus and negative attention on what happened to us, or what we experienced, rather than how strong we are to have made it through everything we have ever gone through. No matter what you’ve experienced or been through, you can make it through every scar and emotion stronger and wiser. Focus on that, rather than the negative emotions associated with feeling like a victim.
5) Face it, reflect, and let it go
Whatever has happened in the past that has hurt you, held you back or is holding you back now— face it, reflect and let it go. You don’t need to hold onto it or let it define you just because it has hurt you, or upsets you. Do whatever you can to remedy the situation, speak your mind, express yourself, listen to your heart, but do not drag the weight of your past along with you. Let it go.
Your past does not define you, it cannot define you, and it can only control you or set you back if you allow it to. Take your power back and don’t be afraid to look at things from a different perspective. You are not simply a victim of your past. You can learn, heal and grow from any and all challenges, ‘let-downs’, and traumas you have faced.