Letting Go of the Past

September 19, 2013 — 4 Comments

Did you know that symptoms of anxiety and depression are the result of unresolved hurts and traumas from the past? I’ve found in my psychotherapy practice that when people regularly practice letting go of the past, their symptoms naturally decrease.

A lot of people have trouble letting go of the past. One of my readers asked me a question about that recently. The question was, “How do I let go of past hurts and traumas and become the person I want to be?”

That’s actually two questions, so I’m going to answer them one at a time. The first part is “How do I let go of past hurts and traumas?” That’s a big one, isn’t it?

Letting Go Isn’t Always Easy

Most of you have been told at one time or another to let go of the past and move forward. You’ve probably heard people say, “The past is past. You can’t do anything about that now. Just let go of it!” Does that sound familiar to you?

The problem is, if it was as easy to let go as they make it sound, you probably would have done it already.

The real truth is that it’s not always easy to let go. Sometimes the things that happen to you imprint you so deeply that you carry them with you for years. When someone tells you to let go and move on, it sounds like you should be able to just make a decision in your mind and do it.

But emotions are not quite that simple. You can make a decision not to talk about your hurts and wounds anymore, but letting go emotionally goes deeper than that. In order to truly let go on an emotional level, you have to feel and express the feelings that you were never able to express when the hurt or trauma happened.

Fortunately, you don’t have to talk directly to the person who hurt you or traumatized you, but it is important to think of what you would want to say to that person. Then find a way to say what you need to say, whether you do it with a counselor, a friend or in your own journal.

How to Practice Letting Go

One way to practice letting go at home is to write a letter to the person who hurt you. Don’t worry! You’re not going to send the letter. You’re just writing it as an exercise in letting go.

When you write the letter, it’s important to say what you wish you could have said when the hurt or trauma originally occurred. It helps to let your emotions come to the surface and say anything you want to say. Don’t hold anything back. It’s good to cry if you need to cry, or express the anger that you’ve been holding back.

The only rule you always need to remember in doing this process is to NEVER EVER hurt yourself or anyone else when you’re expressing your feelings. Even though you may want to hurt someone to let them know how deeply they hurt you, it never actually helps to do that. It only creates more problems in your life.

You see, expressing your feelings is for one purpose, and one purpose only. That purpose is to set you free so that you can finally move forward and become the person you want to be. It’s like taking off the chains that have held you back and kept you from being who you know you could be in the world.

Natural Transformation

There’s something wonderful that happens when you honestly express your true feelings.  What happens is that you start to realize deep down inside that the negative beliefs you took on about yourself when the hurt or trauma occurred were never actually true.

Maybe what happened to you made you believe you were not important, or not good enough, or not worth loving. None of those beliefs are actually true, but if the hurt or trauma you experienced left you believing them, you may still be carrying those negative beliefs around.

It’s pretty exciting to watch what happens when people express and release their emotional pain. They generally start to realize at a deep level that they really are good enough, and smart enough, and capable enough to have the life they really want.

How Do I Become The Person I Want to Be?

So let’s move on to the second part of the question. That question was “How do I become the person I want to be?

Becoming the person you want to be is kind of a ‘catch-up game.’ I don’t mean ketchup like the sauce we put on hamburgers, but catching up, like we often have to do when we get behind on something.

A lot of us got behind in our lives on becoming the person we really want to be, because we never learned the skills and tools we needed for being a healthy, happy person. If you watched some of my earlier videos, you know that it’s not your fault that you never learned those skills and tools.

You see, your parents probably never taught you the skills and tools for being healthy and happy because no one ever taught them. The field of psychology didn’t actually discover the tools until the last 20 or 30 years, so not many people know them still today.

I won’t be able to teach you everything you need to know to be healthy and happy today, but I can tell you some road signs to watch for along the way.

Road Sign #1: Inner Peace

The first road sign to watch for is inner peace. When you have really expressed your feelings and let go on an emotional level, you’ll feel calm and peaceful inside. It feels pretty wonderful when you get to that feeling.

Have you ever played Monopoly? Feeling inner peace is like the card you get in the monopoly game that says “Get out of jail FREE.” It feels comfortable and relaxed, like someone just gave you a new lease on life.

Road Sign #2: Self-Love

The next road sign I think is important on the road to emotional health is self-love. There are many ways to love yourself. If you’ve read my JoyIAm Blog, you may have already seen some of them.

The one I always teach people for starters is just to look into the mirror and say kind, loving words to yourself in the mirror. You can start with “I love you just the way you are.” It’s good to say that one over and over until you really start to believe it. That statement is pretty powerful all by itself.

Then when you really start to feel the love, it’s fun to also tell yourself other loving messages, like “I believe in you,” or “I’m always going to be here for you.” Or you could say “You’re handsome” or “You’re beautiful,” or anything else you’ve always wished other people would say to you.

The mirror process is very powerful. Just keep practicing it over time. It’ll give you some amazing results with loving yourself.

Road Sign #3: Changing Negative Thoughts

The last road sign we’re going to talk about today is changing your negative thoughts to positive. That can be as simple as saying “It’s a beautiful day today,” instead of “Do I really have to go to work today?” Or maybe saying “I really appreciate you taking the time to help me” instead of “Can’t you ever do anything right?”

When you start actually turning your negative thoughts to positive and speaking more positively on a regular basis, you’ll know you are well on your way on the road to emotional health.

The road to emotional health is very fun and uplifting. It gets more exciting the further you go. I really hope you’ll decide to follow it, if you’re not already there. It’ll make such a huge difference in your life!

Leave Your Comments and Questions

I’m going to share more videos with you soon that answer more of your questions. Until then, I’d really love to hear your response to what we’ve discussed today.

Was this video helpful to you? Is there anything you’d like to hear more about?

Please do leave your comments and questions in the space below. I’ll be reading every one of them.

Sign Up Now!

Then, if you’re not already on my email list, please do sign up before you leave today. You can Sign Up Now in the blue and white box in the right column of this page. When you do, I’ll send you more goodies and surprises in the future!

More Information:

For more information, you may also want to read some of my other posts:

The Shocking Statistics on Anxiety and Depression

The JoyIAm Integrated Psychotherapy Process

50 Long-Term Benefits of the JoyIAm Process

Why the JoyIAm Process Far Surpasses Medications

How to Practice the JoyIAm Process

100 Best Psychology/Self-Help Books

4 responses to Letting Go of the Past

  1. Oh, thank you Kari. Your beautiful words and the warmth in the message and the Love you radiate in this video moves to tears (of joy).
    Road sign #2. I will try it and I will extend it to also respecting my thoughts (a man’s deepest craving).

    • Thank you so much, Johan! I’m so glad you found it helpful! You feel my compassion because I’ve been there, trying to find my way to inner peace and joy. It’s so wonderful when you finally get there! It makes everything worthwhile! Sending love and blessings, Kari

  2. I am currently working on sign number one and feel a step closer to finding my true self with each uncovered and processed element. I have really good days working in sign # 3 but number 2 really is one of the hardest things ever. It is so easy to hate self but to love self seems to take a huge effort, so far out of reach and to believe it seems almost impossible.

    On those rare occasions when a smile faintly falls upon my lips and I catch a glimpse in a mirror or window, I find it hard to truly enjoy. Looking into the mirror to say I love you only causes anger and disappointment.

    I’m a lost soul wanting to run from the image in the mirror, happy, sad or angry. How long can it take to overcome the fear of your reflection? To feel free to love self?

  3. Thanks so much for sharing honestly, Melissa! Loving yourself is probably the biggest challenge in healing, especially when you have been severely abused in your life.

    How long it takes is different for every person, often based on the degree of damage in childhood. Try thinking of the sweet, innocent little child that you were back then, and how you would love that precious little girl if she was your daughter today.

    Also give yourself permission to feel your anger towards the people who hurt you (even though you should NEVER act on the anger to hurt them back in real life). Letting yourself feel the anger, express it and release it makes it much easier to love your inner child today.

    Love and blessings, KJ

Leave a Reply