Now it’s clear to me that there is no complete freedom from the past. Learning to let go of the past is a reflex in a continuum of self-care. To aid you in your journey towards tomorrow whilst remaining kind enough not to forget saying good-bye to yesterday, here’s a short list to encourage your efforts and a chance to journey with me as I learn to let go of the past. If you let go of your past, these three things will happen to you.
1. You will feel more alive.
Moving on from the past may benefit your health after all. A 2004 Harvard Medical School issue found that those who forgave after a conflict experienced improvements in blood pressure and heart rate, and a decreased workload for the heart. The issue also found that those who converted anger into compassion during meditation felt less physical pain and anxiety than those who received regular care. Though this issue is a decade old, similar studies conducted over the years have suggested similar results. Findings from the Mayo Clinic argue that accepting harmful events can promote healthier relationships and reduce depression.
Finally, the findings from the latter organization concluded that when we choose not to let the past burden our future, the spiritual part of ourselves become more alive. This is an interesting claim, especially since highlighting intangible thoughts and bringing them into the light of clarity symbolizes the basin of numerous philosophical and religious schools. Now, I don’t think of myself as particularly spiritual but I have experienced that letting go of the past made me feel not only healthier but also happier with life in general.
2. You will learn with more depth and color.
”I realize there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go.” – Jeffrey McDaniel
Having the ability to recover from negative events and to become healthy, strong, and successful again is the hallmark of a psychological term known as resilience. Although it might seem unrelated to what we’re discussing right now, those who move on from the past tend to be more resilient. Moving past the old with a positive outlook is a given in the toolkit of thriving beyond any primal fear! Just think, did Lincoln’s nervous breakdown deter him from becoming president? Einstein apparently suffered from a speech delay in his childhood, but that didn’t rip apart his ambitious visualizations! Those people and innumerable other people endured much in their life but were able to form themselves a strong-willed shell to coat their developing process of recovery. But what does resilience have to do with learning better?
According to Dr. Cal Crow, the co-founder and Program Director of the Center for Learning Connections, resilient people build solid goals and support them with a foundation of desire which embraces the future rather than sulks in its presence. Personally, I lacked a drive to pursue high grades in Grade Eight and Nine. The building where high school was set up didn’t mimic a real high school in the slightest instance. I didn’t feel like I could ever accept how radical this school’s premises were. It’s important not to forget that part of resilience is goal-management, as mentioned before, and the school required us to fill out sheets describing the educational goals we planned to achieve today. So what’s something that’s tough and unpleasant and yet deserves some much-needed gratitude in your life?
3. You will connect with humankind in harmony.
When I first became a high school student a while ago, the new environment was abundant with unfamiliar faces. Most of them were older and more experienced in the fiesta of hormonal adolescents and soon my memories of being bullied before troubled me once more. During the graduating year of elementary school, I hid in bushes during recess and paced sordidly behind the swing set when the bushes were muddy or insects were feasting on it. The pacing triggered contempt from classmates. A few children delighted in my anguish, targeting me with callous remarks, and I graduated with an alienated persona and a thinner skin.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever forget what happened, but something instrumental to learning to let go of the past is learning to forgive or to not hold grudges. Forgiveness is essentially refusing to identify as a victim and choosing to release the suffocating power and control an offending situation or a person might have previously burdened you with. Try this practical little exercise in times of need: find a piece of paper and write a letter to someone who hurt you deeply. Don’t edit it or scan it for grammatical errors; just recall those painful, dehumanizing, humiliating memories that situation or person inflicted upon you. Write with the impression that they’ll understand what you truly went through and imagine in great detail that they’re reading it – just remember not to send it to anyone! Once you’re finished, reread it and add anything missing then shred it into tiny little pieces or throw it out into a fire and watch it disintegrate. The takeaway of this is that letting go of the past is ultimately more relevant to your life when you incorporate a cathartic release such as writing or art.