Oh, the art of letting go. We recently shared what we would tell our younger selves with on our Instagram feed, and it sparked a lot of questions regarding how to move on from the past. So, we created a list of steps that helped us move on from toxic relationship, bad breakups, heartaches, nostalgia, negativity, guilt, self-worth – you name it.
If there’s one thing I would tell my younger self, it would be to let it go.
Let go of the pain; let go of the stigma; let go of the toxic relationship, self-doubt, and guilt.
Let go of the heartache and let go of the bad relationships, let go of the what ifs and the things I cannot control… Because life has something better for me.
The Art Of Letting Go… But How?
Letting go of things in the past has everything to do with learning how to move on from the most hurtful of situations. Perhaps it’s letting go of a bad relationship with a parent or letting go of self-blame. Whatever it is that you’re trying to move on from, the following steps are what we do when it’s time to call it quits on something, someone or some memory.
1. Ask Yourself If It’s Serving You Any Good
First things first, ask yourself if whatever it is you’re trying to move on from serves you any good. If you want to move on from a bad relationship or eliminate toxic people from your life, start with a list of the pros and cons to maintaining a relationship with that person. Perhaps you’ll have many more cons than pros, but maybe the pros are important enough to you that the cons seem miniscule in the grand scheme of things. Or maybe you’ll discover the opposite; that the long list of pros aren’t worth the minimal but overbearing cons.
You won’t know until you lay it out on a piece of paper and thoroughly go over the advantages and disadvantages to remaining in contact with a specific person.
This step to learning how to move on can also be applied to situations and even items. Maybe you hate following the family traditions that have been instilled long before you because they make you miserable. Determine the pros and cons to continuing with the traditions or breaking them to start your own.
Maybe you’re trying to declutter your home to declutter your mind space and are having a difficult time letting go of items that once meant something to do. Ask yourself, is it serving you any good? If not, let it go.
2. Understand that You Can’t Change People
If you’re waiting around for someone to change for you, it’s time to learn how to move on. The one rule to life is to accept that you cannot change people – no ifs, ands, and buts about it. We’ve spoken with police officers who have even said, from what they’ve seen throughout their career, people rarely change. Sure, they may make changes and improve on certain aspects in their life but generally, the true depths of a person never truly change.
For example, if someone has been in prison for domestic abuse and has a long history of abusing women, they may change in the sense that they won’t abuse women anymore but they’re underlying reasons for doing it in the first place, such as a hatred for women, will likely always be there. They may not physically abuse women any longer but the abuse is almost always still there, only in a different form.
Now, that’s a pretty extreme example but it can be applied to all types of relationships. Has your parent always been verbally abusive to you? Has your boyfriend always cheated on you? Is this their “first rodeo” or is it a pattern, a habit or simply put, who they are? If this is not a one-time occurrence, it could very well be that whatever it is you wish to change about someone is simply who they are.
We aren’t saying people can’t change. However, what we are saying is that you can’t change someone no matter what you do because it isn’t about you. A person is who they are because of themselves. It’s a tough thing to accept, especially when you so desperately want someone to change but waiting around is only going to further your pain. As the saying goes,
“If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, its yours forever. If it doesn’t, then it was never meant to be.”
Only this time, add in “if it comes back to you and is healthy for you“. People may come and go but it’s up to you to decide if they are good for you.
So, think about the present moment and the way that person is right now. Evaluate the situation as if they will forever be who they are today. Eliminate the “but what if he or she changes,” and think about the now. Do you want this person the way they are right now, forever?
If not, let it go.
3. Think About What’s Holding You Back From Moving On
We all have our own reasons for holding on to something from the past, even if that something was never good for us. Perhaps it’s a bad breakup, the end of a long friendship, or betrayal from a loved one. Think about the reasons why you’re having such a hard time moving on. Chances are, you’re waiting for them or the situation to change, you’re waiting for “what ifs” that may never be.
Let me share a personal story with you.
I had this best friend who was my ride-or-die. We were inseparable, did absolutely everything together, saw each other every day, and we were truly sisters. She was 100% going to be my maid of honour one day. She was my soul mate.
…Until I found her in a hotel having sex with a guy I had been dating.
I have never, ever in my left felt so betrayed and hurt. The immense pain I experienced wasn’t about the guy (he made his own bed and could lay in it… Pardon the pun). It was about my friend, someone who I never imagined in a million lifetimes would ever hurt me so bad, be so secretive, be so selfish, and worst of all, not be a huge part in my every day life. I have never quite felt a heartbreak like this one. It’s been 10 years and heck, I’m still writing about it, but I have let it go.
Today, I can talk about this situation without breaking down into uncontrollable tears and missing my friend beyond what words could ever explain.
It took me a long time to understand that no matter how many times this person apologized, I would never be able to have the same relationship with them. I held on for a long time thinking about what our friendship used to be and hoping that one day, I would be able to forget this situation ever happened… That day never came. More importantly, I accepted that it never will.
So, it was up to me to either learn how to move on or to continue reliving the most heartbreaking moment of my life. My options were to have a friendship with her but forever long for what it used to be or to just let it all go. I chose that, instead of spending a lifetime wondering how she could do that to me or if she would try to creep in on new boyfriends, I was better off moving on.
Am I still hurt? Absolutely. Betrayal like that leaves you with a few pieces missing in your heart, but I’m happy that I found out what I did when I did and that I loved myself enough to walk away from the entire situation completely.
– Chantal M.
Often times, we hold onto things from the past hoping that it’ll come back around and be better or that the situation will be fixed, and maybe it will be. But you don’t have to wait for that. Live your life and if it makes a full circle, then wonderful. If not, at least you didn’t spend weeks, months and maybe even years waiting for something that essentially was never meant to be.
4. Stop Being The Victim
If you really want to learn how to move on from the past and hurtful situations, you have to stop being the victim and blaming others. Yes, someone else may very well be responsible for your pain but focusing on that instead of focusing on how you can overcome the pain makes all the difference.
At the end of the day – and every hurtful situation – you have a choice. You can choose to remain hurt and vengeful or you can choose to take responsibility for your own happiness. It’s just to you as to whether or not you give someone else so much power that they can completely destroy you.
Acknowledge that whatever happened has happened and what you do from this point on is completely in your control.
5. Focus on the Now
As someone extremely nostalgic, it took a long time to stop living in the past and to start appreciate things in this very moment. Even the best moments in the past are never as good as the ones you could be having right now in this very moment.
So, strive to thrive on the present. Throw yourself fully into the now and you’ll spend less time focusing on the past. Just like you can’t change people, you can’t change the past. All you can do is move on and live better today because of it.
You will have moments where past memories will creep into your mind. You’re human and it happens to all of us. However, don’t fight them. Acknowledge them for just a moment, then bring yourself back to the present moment. It’s ok to think about the past, as long as you don’t get hung up on it so much that it affects your now.
6. Forgive Yourself… And Them
Forgiveness is – hands down – one of the hardest tasks in life. Forgiving others is harder than forgiving yourself, but neither come without some hard work.
This is something we believe everyone suffering from mental illness struggles with. We get upset with ourselves for “not being normal” and we get upset with others for not understanding our illness. As the saying goes, we can’t win ’em all. There are always going to be situations where you wish you did something differently and there’s always going to be people who don’t treat you the way you think you should be treated. However, what you do moving forward is entirely up to you and it starts with forgiveness.
I struggled with this for a long time – forgiveness. Forgiveness for people who let me down when I needed them the most and forgiveness for myself for letting people hurt me repeatedly. Yes, letting people hurt me. I want to emphasize that because you are in full control of how people treat you. The first time? Maybe not so much, but the second, third, fourth, 50th time? Absolutely.
– Chantal M.
Learning how to move on has a lot to do with forgiving those from the past, including yourself. After all, moving on can seem impossible when you have a ball and chain attached to the past.
Try to emphasize with the person you’re trying to forgive, whether it’s yourself or someone else. Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand why they did or said the things they did. You don’t have to agree with it but try to understand it. Forgive and let it go because you cannot change what happened but you can change what happens.
7. Manifest Positivity
On Anxiety Gone, we often say ‘positivity won’t cure you but it sure as hell will help.’ Make it your goal to become a better, more positive person. It’s like a revenge version of yourself; improving yourself so much and achieving such a great life and throwing it in your pasts’ face – no, not other people’s faces. If you are truly over something, you will no longer care to make them or it pay or feel the wrath of your fury. So, embrace that positivity.
We recommend trying Manifest Miracle, an online program that walks you through channeling the right energies to get what you want in life. At first, it seems like the nothing more than some voodoo spells and nonsense. However, it’s actually a powerful program that includes:
- 159 page eBook full of techniques on grounding, positivity, and essentially, manifesting what you want in life
- Audio files
- 21-day workbook to track your progress and habits
With the prior mentioned, here are some other positivity programs you may want try.
Some other positivity programs we highly recommend include:
- Understanding Death Anxiety & How to Cope with It - December 6, 2023
- Simple Ways to Activate Your Parasympathetic Nervous System for Anxiety Relief - December 1, 2023
- How to Do Elf On The Shelf in a Positive, Happy, Healthy Way - December 1, 2023