Many of us don't realize how much our past is dictating our current and future lives. We think that we're being cautious and smart, that we're using hard-earned information from what happened long ago to avoid the same mistakes now.
Little do we realize that holding onto past occurrences just makes them happen again and again. In this article, I'm going to talk about why we hold onto the past, how it messes with our lives now, and how to let it all go.
The ego is the part of your mind that stays focused on the past. It has a really potent message about the past that it feeds you all the time, and that message is: Watch out, it's going to happen again.
This is one of the sly tricks of the ego; this belief alone is enough to keep you stuck. And it works like a charm.
The fear that what happened in the past is going to happen again makes us so scared that it keeps us from enjoying what is actually happening now. Instead of being open to different experiences and outcomes, we are riddled with fear that we are going to get hurt again.
When our minds are focused on something then it becomes our experience; our expectations become our realities. The reason this is true is because we cannot separate ourselves from our perception. What we perceive IS what is real to us. If your perception is stuck on repeat in the past, then your present is repeating in the past too.
It is not until we actually let go of the past completely that we can really move on and have a new experience. And the way to do that is by surrendering your fears.
You have to become willing to create a different reality. Your life will not turn out differently unless you do something different. And luckily, you can.
Here's how to let go of past fears that are cursing you in the present:
1. Notice when your fear surfaces—the one that says, It's going to happen again.
If we are going to let go of fears we have to recognize them first. Just noticing goes a long way; it's called gaining consciousness.
When you start to feel yourself getting a little anxious or fearful, stop and take notice. Think to yourself, "Oh here it is, I'm starting to get freaked out."
This step helps you start to disengage from the fear as the ultimate reality. It helps you to realize that you are not your fear.
2. Call out the fear.
Get clear about what you are afraid of. What happened? What are you afraid of happening again?
Maybe the fear is that when you opened-up to another person, you felt rejected. Maybe the fear is when you got close to another person, you lost yourself.
Name it (I would even suggest writing it down). Again, knowing what the fear is is the only way you can let it go.
When fear flies under the radar, it has the power to plague us without us even knowing it. If we are constantly inundated with unconscious fears then we start to develop other symptoms--illnesses, physical symptoms, depression, anxiety and other ailments.
If something feels "off," don't be afraid to investigate what's going on. You gain freedom by looking your fears in the eye.
3. Become willing to let the past go through forgiveness.
The things we are holding onto from the past are the things that we have not fully forgiven. They come in the form of resentments, but also just flat-out fears.
The essence of forgiveness is: I know that what happened was a mistake. I know that it happened because we (I, the other person, or both of us) were acting out of fear. I am willing to feel peace about it and let it go.
Big words. So important.
Forgiveness is a life-changing practice. It is absolutely crucial in creating a new reality in your present and future. For a detailed guide on the how to forgive, check out Why Forgiveness Will Change Your Life.
4. Recognize that peace lives in you.
Really. It does.
Often we want the people around us to mold and change so we can feel better. But actually if we are scared of the past (OUR past) then it's our job to regain a sense of peace.
Ideally the people in our lives will support us when we're scared, but ultimately it's not their job to make everything better. Once we realize this, then we stop relying so heavily on others to feel safe.
Prayer and meditation are great tools to bring you back into the present. If you simply close your eyes, feel your breath, and listen to your heart, you can easily re-center and orient yourself back to now.
Fear is only activated when we are focused on the past or the future. Anytime you feel fear, if you can make your way back to now you will realize that you are actually safe and well.
The next time you feel fear coming on, implement all four of these steps. They will help you come back to who you really are, which is a peaceful, joyful, magnificent person.
Just remember, you are much more powerful than your fears; you don't have to keep living them over and over again. When you choose to have a different experience in life, that different experience will also choose you.