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How to let go

Releasing your "old" story to create a better one

How to Let Go of the Past

Holding on to the past is a critical way that we keep ourselves from reaching our goals. Whether we are holding a grudge for a perceived slight from a friend, holding on to memories from a relationship or holding on to a negative experience that replays in our minds, we all do it. But why? We like to hold on to things, situations and circumstances because in a way, it’s fulfilling. There’s comfort in familiarity and justification, even when it’s rooted in a negative experience. But, ultimately, not knowing how to let go has no real benefit – it only holds you back from achieving your true potential.

Sometimes, we use the past to justify our current decision-making, and that’s the reason why we don’t want to let go. Remember that nasty thing someone did to you years ago? That keeps you from going to that family gathering or from having an extraordinary relationship. Those memories justify everything for you. When you’re unable to let go, that becomes a part of your “story” and works against you, holding you back.

You need to learn how to let things go, so that you can focus your energy on living positively and proactively. Are you ready to change your story?

Image © Subbotina Anna/shutterstock

Will you live inside your story or let go and move on?

So, what is your story? Your story is what you tell yourself to justify your decisions. For example, you tell yourself that you can’t have a successful relationship because of how you grew up. Your parents argued in front of you all the time, and eventually divorced. You then believe this is why you can’t maintain a healthy romantic relationship. You use this past experience to justify your current life state – even though your current state is actually a choice you make.

You don’t have to negate the truth – if that is, in fact, true – but you shouldn’t let that influence your current path because you’re unable to let go of it. When the facts are terrible or heartbreaking, it is human nature to blame someone else or even a past incident, not ourselves. This is why you blame your significant other at the end of a relationship or another person for something terrible that happened to you. Letting go of a relationship can be one of the most difficult things you will do in life. But you cannot let bad experiences dictate your future. Instead, use your experiences as a tool to push you further, not as an excuse.

Holding on to the past only has negative effects on you – it has no effect on the person you blame. The energy it takes to stoke and maintain the fire of blame is on your own back. The person you are targeting is gone, but still you keep the blaze going at your own emotional expense.

The power of letting go involves controlling the meaning you attach to events in your life. If we can’t get out of the story we’ve constructed for ourselves, then we cannot move on toward bigger and brighter things.

Letting go of the past

Let’s say your relationship ended, and you still feel incredible amounts of anger and resentment toward your ex. Maybe at first you felt righteous about it, like the anger was helping you move forward. However, after some time has passed, you start to see that it’s unhealthy for you, and you’re not sure how to let go of someone you love and move on with your life.

Negative feelings take a toll on your emotional and physical health – anger is even associated with heart disease – and will affect your future relationships. Recognizing this behavior as unhealthy is the first step in the art of letting go. If you’re looking for an answer toward how to move on, you are already on the right path. The good news is that you can learn how to feel happier and control your emotions.

Once you decide to commit yourself toward learning how to let go in one area of your life, you may discover other moments that you can afford to move on from as well.

Moving forward

When you’re letting go of someone, it can be helpful to think of both sides of the story. Your ex hurt you, but they did it because they needed to feel more stable in a romantic relationship. They felt their needs weren’t being met in your relationship, and they decided to take actions in order to improve their own emotional state – even if they may regret it later. Regardless of who initiated the breakup or the reason behind the split, you need to move on. Don’t worry about forgiving them for now. Instead, work on learning how to forgive yourself for getting so caught up in the drama of your personal life and allowing your anger and resentment to hurt you and hold you back.

Learning how to let things go is not as hard as it may seem. It’s true that bad things happen, but you cannot change the past. Continuing to perpetuate it only hurts your own emotional (and even physical) state, keeping you from fully enjoying life. Embrace living in the moment, and accept that there are things you cannot control.

The key to letting go of a relationship or a painful past experience is that you have to face what has happened, accept that you can’t change it and then move on. Once you’re able to move on and close old doors, inevitably new doors will open up, better opportunities will arise and, most of all, you’ll have a better story that moves you forward, instead of holding you back. Start writing your new story today.

Header Image credit © MJTH/shutterstock

Team Tony

Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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