With 2020 in full swing, a brand new year—and a brand new decade, at that—is usually the perfect time to start fresh and on a clean slate.
Unfortunately, many of us are still living in the past, unable (or unwilling) to let go of or move on from a traumatic experience, years of anger and resentment, and unshakable guilt or regret.
Start living in the here and now and embrace the opportunities ahead with an open mind and heart! Here are three reasons why letting go of your past is so much better than living in it.
Because the past is past, and there’s no changing it.
So you did something wrong, hurt someone or yourself, and paid dearly for something you have long regretted. But enough is enough. The fact that you acknowledge your error (as opposed to denying it or blaming others) indicates that you take ownership of and responsibility for what you did. “Accusing ourselves is the first step towards forgiveness, “ says Pope Francis. “Not accusing others; accusing ourselves. ‘I have sinned.’”
So stop beating yourself up. You learned your lesson and now it’s time to close the door of that episode and move forward. You can’t change the past, but you can certainly change your attitude about it.
Because being under a perennial black cloud is not healthy.
It’s easy to understand why we hold on to anger, sadness, shame, or guilt longer than we should. But there’s a downside to festering in these feelings.
Webmd.com has enough evidence to prove that intense stress and sadness can lead to takotsubo cardiomyopathy, otherwise known as broken heart syndrome. Anger, according to everydayhealth.com, has also been known to trigger heart disease, stroke, a weaker immune system, and a shorter lifespan.
Not surprisingly, negative thoughts and feelings repel people (who wants to hang out with someone who is constantly bickering about the past?) and attract those of a similar mindset. Look at the people in your inner circle. Are they happy, optimistic, and light-hearted—or are they angry, bitter, and full of issues?
Because being happy feels so much better.
Thanks to harping about the past, you clearly know what anger/sadness/resentment/guilt feels like. Now it’s time to know what the opposite is. Do this: Feel whatever emotions your past is making you feel for one last time—then willfully stop yourself from thinking what triggers that emotion and keep catching yourself when you fall into that black hole. Well-meaning and patient family members, friends, counselors, and self-help books can only do so much. Only you can end your feelings of anger/sadness/resentment/guilt.
“Peace is chosen; it cannot be imposed and it is not found by chance,” says Lolo Kiko. “True peace is not about changing one’s own history but about welcoming it and valuing it, just as it has unfolded.”