self improvement tips

Letting Go of a Hurtful Past – 5 Ways to Move Forward

For most of my life, I always had trouble letting go of the past, specifically when it comes to angry situations.

Like this one time, there was this drunk guy, who was my good friend’s friend who tried to pick a fight with me. I didn’t do anything because I wanted to avoid trouble.

I spent years after that feeling so angry with myself.

“Why didn’t I just fight him? I could have easily won.”

“How dare he say those things to me?”

“Why did I give him the pleasure of thinking he could talk down to me like that?”

These were always in my head. I even thought about how I would win the fight, run away in time so the police wouldn’t find me and I’d live happily ever after.

See how ridiculous that sounded?

Your past and thoughts about it are both crucial factors to letting go

I think that when it comes to letting of a hurtful past, we need to access the root cause of the problem.

Yet, after that, one needs to constantly be aware of our thoughts.

I don’t think finding out the root cause or original trauma is an instant cure to your pain.

We need to take charge of our life; our present and put in the consistent effort to better ourselves.

It took me a long while, but it’s worth it.

Here’s what I did to alleviate the pain.

1) “Catch” yourself

It is said that most of our self-talk is negative. Our thoughts can be mostly negative as such.

What you can do to prevent the flood of negativity is to “catch” yourself.

Catch yourself whenever a negative thought or memory surfaces.

This is to make you extremely aware about what’s going on inside your head. In that sense, you’re in control because you created the thought of catching the negative one.

It’s definitely better than flowing with the negativity, getting into a bad mood and not even know why it’s happening to you in the first place!

So catch yourself. Be aware of what’s going on in you and hold that thought.

2) Get a little visual

In my introduction I showed how I went down the negative route and created a completely ridiculous scenario that didn’t help me at all.

I went down that route so easily because I could visualized it in my head like a movie.

So now it’s time to flip it around and use this idea to throw away the negative thought or memory you just caught.

What I personally like to visualize is imagining my negative images to shrink in size. Notice how it helps to emphasize that I’m bigger than it all?

Flip it around. Whenever you catch something negative in you, visualize how it’s of no importance to you. Perhaps you can imagine it getting blurred, faded or even your hands throwing it away!

3) Affirm yourself logically

What really helped me to ignore the pain a negative memory brings is using logical truths. And I go all out with it.

So whenever a hurtful reminder comes, I tell myself, “This is the past. It does not exist anymore. It is not real. The past is useless. My present and future are more important. That guy who hurt me? He is NOTHING. He does not exist! He has no real power over me!”

Yes, it’s a mouthful, but as I said, I go all out. This also serves to distract yourself from not going down the negative route and start thinking up crazy scenarios.

I’d like to emphasize the importance of using logic here because I believe we ought to be practical in letting go. If anything, being practical would be a good start in your journey of positive thinking.

4) Be the person you want to love

This is the icing on the cake; on top of your affirmations.

Look, for all you who has a hurtful past, I know it hurts. I know you’ve been treated unfairly. I know you’re wondering what you did to deserve it.

And I know it drives you nuts wishing that you could have handled it better.

But here’s a little encouragement: I think for whatever it is, I’m willing to guess you did the right thing. Maybe things didn’t turn out perfectly, but at least you stayed out of trouble.

You were true to your good self and you didn’t stumble like your wrongdoers.

Take solace in that. Take PRIDE in that.

Catch your negative thoughts and memories, visualize them away and start getting logical.

Know that all of this would help create the best version of you, someone you want to love as you look in the mirror.

I happen to find out years later that the drunk, tough guy wannabe felt very bad and guilty about it. He doesn’t show up at gatherings as long as I’m there now.

There’re always consequences. And the last thing you want is to not love yourself.

5) Just keep at it and keep doing things!

Finally, just keep putting in the consistent effort to let go of your hurtful past.

Thoughts are always running so you need to keep catching them.

Also, keep doing things. You can’t get better if all you do is sulk in sadness or sift in your anger.

It’s not just about distracting yourself.

It’s about creating new, awesome memories, ones that’d totally cover up the old ones.

Hope this helps! I’d be happy to help anyone in the comments.

Just for Pick The Brain readers

I hope you enjoyed the article!

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Alden Tan is both a passionate writer and Bboy. He writes honest and real stories at his blog all the time. Check out his free book, 12 Things Happy People Don’t Give a F**k About!