Leaving the past behind and moving on

How much of today do we waste regretting yesterday? What is stopping us from leaving the past behind and moving on?  Why do we nurse our grudges and hang on to old injuries? Or are we not even aware that we are doing it?

Here is a quiz to help you figure out where you are. 

3 selfish reasons to let go of resentment & blame

1. Resentment and bitterness damage our minds and bodies

    • Reality gets distorted to fit our story of victimisation. We start to get paranoid. We lose trust in the world. A negative spiral of suspicion and mistrust sucks us downwards. Negative people attract negativity. Friends and family get tired of hearing us go on and on
    • Bitterness and anger corrode our physical health. High blood pressure, ulcers, headaches and many other diseases are made worse if not caused by anger and bitterness.

Stop turning on your emotional television to watch the same program over and over again, the one that shows how much you suffered from a certain loss: that is only poisoning you, nothing else.  Paulo Coelho

2.  It decreases our power

When we see ourselves as victims, we are giving away our power. It’s like being shot full of arrows and refusing to do anything about it because the person who shot them should fix it. It hurts you more than it hurts them. Stop and think who is suffering most? Does continually thinking of the wrong hold you back or aid you in moving on?

If you spend your time hoping someone will suffer the consequences for what they did to your heart, then you’re allowing them to hurt you a second time in your mind. Shannon L. Alder

3. The past imprisons us

The more we say there is nothing we can do, the more convinced we become that is the case. So, the less likely we are to move on. Even if the situation or the other person changes, we are still stuck. In some cases, we might not even notice things have improved because our resentment had become our reality. There is no chance of things getting better unless we move away from blame toward action.

You can’t possibly embrace that new relationship, that new companion, that new career, that new friendship, or that new life you want, while you’re still holding on to the baggage of the last one. Let go… and allow yourself to embrace what is waiting for you right at your feet. Steve Maraboli

Learning from the past helps you make a better future. On the other hand, letting the past tie you up in knots means you can never create that future.

3 altruistic reasons for moving on and letting go

1.  It sets a good example

What would the world look like if everyone carried a grudge? Would anyone want to live in a world where making a mistake or taking a wrong decision marked you for life? Accidents happen, wrong choices are made. How do people learn to move on if they have never seen an example? Little acts of kindness and forgiveness are like ripples that spread out making the world better. Research shows that seeing kindness makes us feel better. As a result, we are also more likely to be kind ourselves. Do we want our children, colleagues, friends or family to behave with resentment or with kindness? People reciprocate others actions.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.  Dalai Lama XIV

Damaging or restoring relationships

2. Letting go stops things getting worse

When we stop retelling a story of victimisation, then we start seeing more options. If we don’t play the victim or retaliate (justified in our minds by the persecution of the other), it is unlikely that the situation will escalate. In fact,  it may even improve. Accepting a situation creates an environment for wiser choices and happier outcomes.

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

3. It frees everyone to start again.

Think of a rope, tied in a knot. Pulling both ends of the rope tightens the knot. If one person lets go, it is much easier to untangle the knot–or for the other person to think “It must not be worth it.” Everyone involved is set free and helped in moving on.

Holding on is believing that there’s only a past; letting go is knowing that there’s a future. Daphne Rose Kingman

So what now?

I’m not saying that it’s always good to give in or give up. What I am saying is that we need to remember it is our choice. We don’t have to wait for the other person to be kinder, better, more thoughtful. We can choose how we want to think about the situation, even if we cannot change it.

If you need some help in moving on, email help@nancyradford.com

More links

How to Let Go of Resentment


When You’ve Been Hurt

Old Hurts