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On Leaving the past behind + learning to move on

Leaving the past behind + learning to move on.

Leaving the past behind + learning to move on.

Holding on to the past can be a burden. It can not only feel heavy and suck the fun out of life, but it can also stop you from becoming the person you want to be.

It can also affect your relationships- even if what you’re refusing to move on from, has nothing to do with the other person.

I’ve been on both ends of such relationship. You’re either the person who is “stuck” and constantly talks about and complains about their past circumstances or experiences, or you’re on the receiving end, and have heard the same story being told, over and over again.

Being on the receiving end isn’t easy. At first, you sympathize, you comfort, you listen, you give out advice. After years of hearing the same story though, you grow tired.

On the other hand, being the person who is refusing to move on, is tricky.

Why?

Because you sometimes don’t realize that you’re stuck. You don’t realize that you, holding on to your past, is what is stopping you from growing. It’s not until you realize how much of a burden it is, that you begin to see just how much your “past” has taken over both your “present” and your “future.”

LEAVING THE PAST BEHIND + LEARNING TO MOVE ON

Leaving the past behind + learning to move on

THINGS WE HOLD ON TO, TOO TIGHT

When it comes to “living in the past” there exists a pattern that constantly repeats itself. Usually, it involves things like:

-playing the victim

-pointing fingers at others

-blaming our past experiences for our current circumstances

-holding on to anger, and refusing to let go

Needless to say, some of the things we hold on to and patterns they create are destructive and often have quite a negative impact on our lives. While some use their unpleasant past experiences as a fuel to drive them and keep them moving forward, others use it as an excuse to stand still.

Why? Because it’s easier. It’s a way of us making ourselves feel a little better- a perfect excuse for not living authentically and being who we really wish to be.

LEARNING TO FORGIVE + LETTING GO

Forgiveness is one of the most important aspects of learning to move on and leaving the past behind. It’s not just about forgiving others for the hurt and pain they might have caused you. It is also about you forgiving yourself. When we replay those stories in our heads, over and over again, we fall into that mental habit of staying stuck in the past. It’s a vicious cycle that will not stop unless that mental habit loop is broken. The only person who can break that loop is you.

Just as forgiving is not only about forgiving others, letting go isn’t just about letting go of the past. It’s also about letting go of unhealthy relationships, expectations, bad habits, and limiting beliefs. It’s about letting go of the false stories we keep re-telling ourselves, over and over again.


TURN INTO THE PRESENT MOMENT

If you spend your time focusing on the present, taking it all in, you won’t have time for replaying the same stories you’ve been replaying all your life. Spend most of your time re-living your past, and you will miss out on the things that are happening this very moment. You will miss out on the now.

There is something magical about being present- when your mind is free of judgment in every single moment, every single thought. When you don’t worry about the future or stress about the past. Introduce some mindfulness exercises into your day to help you practice being present. The more you practice it, the easier it becomes.

OPEN UP

You cannot erase your past simply because there are things you want to let go of; things you want to move on from. Those past experiences, the struggles, the failures, the hurt- those things make up who you/we/me are today. I think about it this way: just because I chose to forgive myself for years of emotional self-abuse and physical self-harm, just because I no longer choose to play the “victim card” and decided to let go of the hurt and pain I’ve felt, doesn’t mean that those things never took place. Tough experiences, failures, and disappointments are a part of life. Some of us are just lucky not to experience too many of them, while others find it difficult to re-define their lives and move on from them- often, it’s because the pain is just too strong.

Know that your feelings- such as regret, hurt, disappointment, are valid. Your pain is valid. Just because they are valid though, you don’t have to let them define who you are. Yes, the past experiences helped shape the person you are today- but that person is stronger for having gone through them.

Sometimes, the things that happened to us are too difficult to work through on our own. Remember, that there is no shame in seeking help- be it professional therapy or just talking to someone close who you really trust. If that’s not your thing, then try journaling- validate your feelings using words like “I am” and “I feel.” Write it all down, feel it all. Let it all out, so that you can make some room for more good, more present and peace. Know that your feelings are valid,  but that doesn’t mean that you have to let your past experiences stop you from going where you want to go, from being who you want to be.

Leaving the past behind + learning to move on.

COMMIT TO LETTING GO

Moving on is almost never easy. Forgiving isn’t easy and neither is letting go. It takes time, and it takes commitment. It takes effort.

You don’t just wake up one-day thinking: “yea, what happened to me was pretty messed up, but I’ll just go ahead and let it go now.

No.

Letting go sometimes equals you, going about your life, every single day, fighting. It’s you, realizing that whatever happens to you from now on, is up to you. Letting go takes effort, discipline, and responsibility. Sure, saying: “I can’t do A and B, because I never had C and D growing up” is simple. It’s an easy way out- it’s pretty much putting the responsibility on someone (or something) else. By committing to letting go, you choose to unburden yourself. Growing and getting better is a daily effort. It won’t happen overnight, and it takes work. The sooner you realize this and commit to letting go, the better.


I used to think of myself as someone who is broken. I’ve always used my past as an excuse for not allowing myself to do the things I’ve always wanted to do, or to become the person I wanted to be. I allowed it to hold me back, for far too long. There came a time where I’ve come to realize that just because I was once told that I’m not good enough, or not smart enough, or that I would never amount to anything- it does not give me an excuse to give up on myself or my dreams.

We all have dreams, plans, and goals. Having “bad” things happen to you in the past shouldn’t be a pretext for giving up on those dreams, for giving up on yourself.

Throwing around blame is easy.

Finding excuses is easy.

Leaving the past behind isn’t always easy. 

Waking up every day and asking yourself: “Who am I? Will I allow my past experiences to define who I am today?” takes courage. You can’t always control the things that happen to you, just like you can’t control other people and their actions. What you do have control over, is how you respond to the crappy things that happened to you in the past. You can find peace and happiness- you just have to learn to let go. Realize that you do have a choice and that that, is your superpower.

25 Comments

  • Reply
    Lisa Autumn
    July 22, 2018 at 6:18 am

    ‘only look back to see how far you have come’ :) love this!

    x Lisa | lisaautumn.com

  • Reply
    Linda Libra Loca
    July 23, 2018 at 2:33 am

    In a time when it is suggested that if we just admit we are not okay, things will fall into place, blog posts like this are improtant. Facing your fears, your bad experiences and your past in general is hard, exhausting, but ultimately worth it.
    But depending on your experiences, counseling is required to really work through things and heal.

    Anne – Linda, Libra, Loca

    • Reply
      Paula @ thirteenthoughts.com
      July 27, 2018 at 12:12 am

      Thank you so much, Anne! I also think that those who struggle with their past, can benefit from counseling/therapy. I went to counseling when I was a teen, and I honestly think that my therapist played a huge role in my being able to move on from and get over a lot of things that I went through when I was younger. It might feel awkward at first and opening up can be difficult, but it can make a huge difference.

  • Reply
    FreeDealsForU
    July 23, 2018 at 5:00 am

    Very motivational post. Life has its share of ups and downs. It is important to be positive and keep moving.

    Thanks for sharing, have a good day. :) Check – http://freedealsforu.com/

  • Reply
    Natalie Redman
    July 23, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    Such a great post! It’s true though, holding onto the past really does stop you from moving forward and having a better future.

    http://www.upyourvlog.com

  • Reply
    Leticia
    July 23, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    This is one of the hardest yet most important things in life! I’m so glad you’ve written about it.

    Tish | thesundaydiary.co.uk

    • Reply
      Paula @ thirteenthoughts.com
      July 27, 2018 at 12:13 am

      Thanks, Beauty! Moving on and letting go is definitely one of the most difficult things to learn to do.

  • Reply
    Naya // partyparrotblog.com
    July 24, 2018 at 4:24 am

    Such an important topic here. I must admit that I’ve been on the receiving end so many times; especially when it comes to dating guys and they can’t stop talking about their ex-relationships – at some point I actually wonder whether or not they are ready for something new, because their heads are somewhere in the past. I read a very good quote a few months ago, will insert it below. I believe that it is important to analyze your past, talk about your feelings but only to find a way to learn your lessons and eventually move on. Too bad most people enjoy staying in this weird state of self-pity and anger, without actually realizing that they won’t move further, until they close that old chapter of their lives. Well written, Paula! xx
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3336447b6af1dadd9e94049558657479b2359268c9cde4eb4b8e1e02715962ab.jpg

    • Reply
      Paula @ thirteenthoughts.com
      July 27, 2018 at 12:19 am

      Even though in a different way- I can relate to this, so much. I have a bunch of amazing people in my life, and seeing some of them being “stuck” and not being able to move on, is painful. Sadly, a lot of those people are stuck in a co-dependent relationship, and other than guidance and acceptance, there isn’t much we, as friends and loved ones, can do to influence other people’s choices. Just like you said, in the end, it’s up to those individuals to realize how much pain things like self-pity and constant anger bring into their life.

      Love that quote, by the way, thank you so much for sharing it, Naya! x

  • Reply
    Bernadette
    July 24, 2018 at 6:20 am

    I absolutely loved reading this, it definitely made me reflect on myself and my life!

    http://www.themakeupaficionado.com

  • Reply
    The Sunday Mode
    July 24, 2018 at 9:05 am

    Oh god damn, I swear every time I read one of your posts they relate so exactly to something I’m going through in my life at that time as well. I’ve been having a lot of trouble lately letting go of a person that’s hurt me, and getting over it. I kind of have been reverting back into bad old habits as a result of getting hurt, but this post totally reminded me to not keep holding onto that hurt, and to not let it put my guards up again like I used to, I can just move on with my life.

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

    • Reply
      Paula @ thirteenthoughts.com
      July 27, 2018 at 12:26 am

      I hope you can take comfort in knowing that you are not the only one who is stuck in a situation like this, Julia. It can be so difficult to “love” or “like” someone you truly care for, when they don’t always realize the pain or hurt they’ve caused us. You want everything to be okay, but at the same time, you kind of also want the other person to at least acknowledge or validate that pain. Moving on isn’t easy, and it doesn’t mean you just suddenly forget all the “bad” stuff. Instead, you have to choose to see more of the good, happy and positive things and practice letting go. xx

      • Reply
        The Sunday Mode
        July 28, 2018 at 9:05 am

        Your comment actually really did make me feel a lot better, thanks Paula. What you said hit the nail on the head though, I think why I was getting stuck was because I at least want some validation of the hurt that was caused but I don’t think that’s going to happen and I have to try and be ok with that. I’m going to do what you said and focus on the good, positive thinks and focus on everything I’m thankful for as well :) xx

  • Reply
    clare⭐
    July 24, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    i loved reading this, its so relatable and so honest.

    http://www.claresloves.com/

  • Reply
    Danielle Alexa
    July 25, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    This is such a great blog post, it is so open and honest!

    Danielle xx
    https://www.fashionbeautyblog.co.uk/

  • Reply
    Girl In Gamba
    July 25, 2018 at 7:25 pm

    I loved these tips so much! I often think I blame past experiences for current circumstances sometimes. Even though I’m much more aware of it now, it’s still something I struggle with. I think turning to the present moment is something that I need to do more. Definitely practicing mindfulness and forgiveness will help with the big things!

    GG | http://www.girlingamba.com

    • Reply
      Paula @ thirteenthoughts.com
      July 27, 2018 at 12:29 am

      Hi, GG! It’s definitely a process and it doesn’t happen overnight. Learning to let go does take a little practice, but it can also be life-changing and very freeing. It’s realizing just how much power you, yourself, have over your own life. Life is what you make it; you can either choose to hold on to the pain, or you can release it, let it go, learn from it, and know that you’re much stronger and wiser for having gone through it.

  • Reply
    Barely Balanced
    July 30, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    Funny, I was just sitting down to dinner the other night at my parent’s home, and I was laughing internally about how everyone was telling the same stories over and over again. My grandmother, father, mother, I even caught myself making the same sarcastic, teasing comments to their repetitive stories. My brain suddenly began racing at the dinner table; I began thinking, much like my family telling the same stories over and over again, how much I was living in the past as well. I’ve been working a lot on self love over the past several months, and during this reflective time in my life, have vowed to work at not letting my past stories effect how I control my future. Then today, I see your post on living for the now as opposed to living for the past; let me tell you my dear, your post came to me just at the right time! Thank you for sharing your tips on how to move on from your past!

  • Reply
    Emily@socialbuzzhive
    August 19, 2018 at 10:53 am

    Going through a breakup and being in a brand new place I can definitely relate to this! Every day is a work in progress to start mindful habits. Thank you for this inspiring post! <3

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