This time of year, we are focused on starting something new. A new exercise regimen or diet. A new mindset.
You name it, we are aching for something to look forward to and start this New Year on the uphill slide. I find myself in the similar thought processes and have already begun to do a few things a little differently. But the truth is we cannot hold onto something else without first letting a few things go. For some of us, just the words, “letting go” sounds impossible.
Maybe we believe that “letting go” means forgetting. Part of us doesn’t want to forget. Whether we are the person holding the grudge or the one who can never make up for lost time.
There are many words of wisdom out there reminding us all to “step towards our future” so these words will not tell you what you already know you need to do. Instead, I will share with you the reasons why we all need to let go of our past.
1. It’s Hard Work
Holding onto 40 years worth of disappointment and regret gets heavy. It cripples our mindset and becomes our prison. It’s not just a scar people see every once in a while, it becomes how we are seen by others. Physically worrying about events, actions, and words that already have their place in our yesterdays is exhausting and downright a load we cannot carry if we are to be productive now. Not only is our physical health at risk to increased stress, breakdown, and exhaustion, it threatens our mental state as well.
2. It Keeps You Stuck
We must understand that time moves and we must move with it. Holding onto our past denies ourselves something different. We become creatures of habit and have difficulty in fitting in with current events and communicating with the people in your life. Your sense of reality becomes somewhat warped and you become isolated from the rest of the world.
3. It Ruins Relationships
Understanding the past as it truly was instead of only seeing it from one point of view can damage your connections with the people who matter most to you. Things might not have turned out the way you would have like and you might have been hurt as well. That happens to all of us at some time or another. Feeling selfish and regretful for what cannot be changed allow that lack of closeness you secretly wish for and want. Don’t waste time pointing fingers or placing blame – it doesn’t really matter, does it? Forgiveness will always resurrect the bridge between two people no matter how long it’s been.
4. It Wastes Time
We don’t know how much time we have and spending our days looking back instead of forward will eventually lead to a road of regret. In life, we must be present. Holding on to what was doesn’t give us the minutes to appreciate what is and what can be. Before we know it, a year has gone by with bitterness still in our hearts. A year turns into five and sometimes, it leaves us with no opportunity to try to make it better.
The past serves as reminders of the roads we have taken to bring us to this point. However, it is never meant to be the place we remain forever. It is full of experiences and memories that help us write our story. Some moments will be recalled as one full of joy while others will fill our hearts with sorrow.
In order for us to move towards what is still yet to be, we must first get through what currently is before us. Bringing everything from our past and keeping it is like never growing out of our clothes, of never graduating from high school, of never learning something new. Our mind chooses to relive in a day that doesn’t exist anywhere else.
If we are not careful, depression and isolation quickly take hold when our present day is suffocated by something that ended. In those moments that cannot be, we refuse to accept where we are, who we have become and how we got there.
This is the time…
In addition to getting your body in shape and finding hope in what is yet to be, it’s time to leave the baggage in the trunk. Don’t forget the lessons you’ve learned along your travels – they will come in handy later on.
We all have the ability to change our lives – even when looking back. Although an event has already happened, we can still change the way we look at it, the way we feel about it, and how it affects us now.
Letting go isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but it is something that will benefit us as we move through the rest of our days.