Steps for Letting Go of Painful Memories
Experiences can leave us with some painful memories. They tie us to the past and prevent us moving on. And the only way to freedom is to work on letting go – so these memories don’t haunt us or keep us trapped in pain. Below are some guidelines to help you work on this.
1. Before you can let go, you must face whatever happened and accept that it is part of your past experiences. Suppression doesn’t work as a long-term solution. It can only be a band aid that brings temporary relief. Talk to someone you trust, or write about it in your journal. You need to share what happened, in order to move on.
2. Identify the lessons you have learned from what has happened. There’s always a lesson – so look for what you’ve learned. It doesn’t make it better – but it does lessen its power.
3. Write the lesson down on a piece of paper and repeat it to yourself when you’re hit by old, painful memories. For example, if you’ve been scarred by abuse, then you might write something like: “My experience of abuse does not determine who I am. I’m a stronger person now, and that is not my destiny. I’m choosing my own future, and the person I will be.”
4. Repeat this mantra often so it takes root in your mind. Allow it to be stronger than the bad experience. Say it often, till you mean it, then you’ll start to feel you’re freer. Persevere and keep on fighting when those old memories return.
5. Seek to be a person who’s at peace with themselves. When peace is your focus, old thoughts and memories have much less power over how you think and feel. However, seeking after peace must be a conscious, constant choice.
6. When the past tries to intrude, focus firmly on the present. Ground yourself in what’s happening around you in the room, and try to breathe deeply - and deliberately relax. You are here in this moment; you’re not living in the past.
7. Forgive – for your own sake. Try to heal from what happened – then let resentments go. You don’t want them in your life for they’ll just tie you to the past. It’s not an ease process; it takes work and discipline. But it is worth the daily struggle - as one day you’ll be free.