Do you find yourself reflecting on the past a lot? When you do, do certain feelings and emotions come up? Maybe you feel your heart sinking. Maybe you have exhaled deeply. Maybe you feel angry and anxious. Anytime these feelings are present in your body, as memories of the past begin to resurface, it’s time to let them go. The past is exactly what it is, the past. It has already happened, and there isn’t anything we can do about it, but move forward. Holding on to past hurt, pain, and trauma has adverse effects, mentally physically, and emotionally. There is a book that talks about this, “The Body Keeps Score,” by Bessel, A Van Der Kolk. Kolk is providing insight on how bodies remember traumatic experiences, and ultimately how this affects us; mind, body, and spirit. Now, in no way am I not validating your experience of trauma and other experiences that have elicited uncomfortable feelings and emotions. No, not at all. My purpose for edifying how the past holds us back is to encourage you to look for ways to heal, by letting go of the past. Moreover, I would like to provide you with some helpful ways that you can begin this healing process.
Surrender Your Past To God.
God is key when it comes to putting your past behind you. He’s your Creator. He knows everything that you’ve done and everything that has been done to you. Why wouldn’t he know what to do with your past? When you surrender your past to God, you are trusting Him to help you, and fix challenges that you yourself aren’t capable of doing. How do you do this, you ask? You simply say, “Lord, Father, God, Most High, my Creator. I surrender my past to you. It’s holding me back from living the life I desire to live, and from, ____ (insert what it’s holding you back from). Help me, heal and restore me, in only the ways that you can. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen!” Say this every day, and watch God work on your behalf.
2. Consider Therapy, In Fact, Go To Therapy.
Now, I’m not saying this because I’m a therapist. I’m saying this because I see the benefits of therapy not just on my clients, but also on myself. The purpose of therapy is to gain insight, perspective, and understanding of experiences that have had an adverse and positive effect on your life. Therapists provide psychotherapy by analyzing your life based on the information that you provide. So try to be as honest as you can. Yes, it takes time to build a relationship with a therapist regarding feeling comfortable and safe, but it is a therapist's responsibility to set an atmosphere of safety and most importantly, confidentiality. Therapy will teach you different tools and techniques to use daily when faced with mental and emotional challenges, as well as experiences that have caused trauma.
3. Forgive Yourself.
A big part of letting go of the past is learning how to forgive yourself. Often when we are stuck in the past, we struggle with forgiving ourselves for actions, behaviors, and decisions that we made when we were younger. When we lacked understanding. Life is about experiences and most often, life is the best teacher. There are people, parents, friends, and mentors who provide us with wisdom to usher us in the right direction, but sometimes we don’t always take heed to their wisdom. So when faced with experience, we learn, we mature, and we see patterns of behaviors that we may need to change and work on to continue growing. That’s okay! Forgive yourself!! Remember, God did not create you to be perfect. You will make mistakes. The most important lesson is to learn from those mistakes so that you can continue to grow and elevate.
4. Forgive Others.
This is another HUGE step! Most often, and I speak from experience, we struggle with forgiving others. But, there is a reason why God commands us to do this. I’ve learned from experience that when I hold unforgiveness in my heart, I’m leaving an open opportunity to prevent myself from healing, growing, and ultimately being happy. Unforgiveness allows bitterness, resentment, and anger to fester. How can happiness, joy, and peace thrive in that type of environment? It can’t. When we forgive others, we are letting go of past experiences with them that left us feeling betrayed, hurt, and many times violated. However, again, we are not perfect people, and at some time or another, we are on the opposite end of forgiveness. We want to receive forgiveness. Now, again, I am not saying that your experience is not valid! Everyone’s experience is valid! However, what I am saying is, in order for you to have peace in your heart; extend mercy, grace, and forgiveness. Leave it to the Father and pray that he helps you in the area of forgiveness. Pray for those people. Pray that they will heal, acknowledge their wrongs, and be delivered from behaviors that caused them to react or treat you unkind. Pray that they receive help in areas that they too are struggling with hurt and unforgiveness. In fact, when you talk to the Father, you can say,
“Lord, please teach me how to forgive, how to let go and heal from the hurt that I’ve experienced, and how I’ve hurt and impacted others. Help me to see my own ways, and clean my hearts. Lord, help these individuals to see their ways and how their actions have impacted not just me but others. Clean their hearts too. Teach us all how to heal, how to forgive. Teach us how to extend grace, mercy, kindness, and compassion to one another, as you so readily do. Teach us how to be more like you. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.”
5. Experiencing Healing.
Last, but not least, experience healing! There are so many elements to healing!!! Healing is not linear!!! During the process of surrendering your past to God, going to therapy, and forgiving you will experience a lot of emotions!! Don’t be afraid of these emotions, after all, you are human. God gave you these emotions and we are all extensions of Him. The great I AM! Nonetheless, you will feel sad, happy, uncomfortable, angry, etc! Your mind is now processing out the past and processing healing. Take care of yourself during these moments. Journal, cry, take deep breaths, go to the gym, experience nature, drink water, and cleanse your body! Letting go of the past has its challenges, but the benefits of becoming more aware of self, happier, whole, peaceful and so much more, are worth it.
Here are my final thoughts. As you let go, remember this. No one can hold your past against you. Why you might ask? Well, they could NEVER walk in your shoes. They could NEVER be you because God made you specifically for His purpose, not theirs. Visa, versa!! So, walk with your head high and your heart humbled. Love those who love you, who empathize with you, and don’t try to hold your past against you, but encourage you to move forward to your alright bright future, which is the present. Forgive and send healing and love to those who may oppose you. Trust God in all things, and let him direct your paths. He will never stir you wrong.
With love and lots of encouragement,