Lesson #11: Make Peace with Your Past So It Doesn’t Screw Up the Present

by bye2mrwrong

Who of us hasn’t heard this cliché before in one form or another? “Learn from the past, live in the present, look to the future”, “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us”, “Yesterday was the past, tomorrow the future, today is a gift and that is why we call it the present”, “Don’t worry about the people from your past, there is a reason they didn’t make it to your future”.

So how do you get unstuck from the past that’s haunting you?  How do you stop from wondering about that someone who you left in your past? How do you let go?

 Here’s what Doctor Phil says:

  • Forgiveness is a choice. Don’t wait for it to just wash over you all of a sudden. You have to choose it.
  • Don’t give your power away. The pain of what happened is inevitable, but continuing to suffer is optional. The only person you can control is you. By constantly reliving the pain of what happened, you are giving your power away to the person who wronged you.
  • Don’t cling to negative feelings. Anger is nothing more than an outward sign of hurt, fear, guilt, grief or frustration. While the pain may never completely disappear, forgiveness can help you release the anger and bring those in your life closer to you.
  • There is no right timeline for recovery. For some people, making peace happens suddenly and spontaneously. For others, it takes time and effort. You may have to make a conscious effort every day to forgive. To say, “I’m letting this go. I’m not going to invest hatred, bitterness, anger, resentment in this person anymore.” You can find closure in forgiveness.
  • You can’t change the things that happened in your life, but you can decide how you interpret and respond to them. If you didn’t receive support when you needed it, give it to yourself now.
  • Listen to your internal dialogue. What are you saying to yourself? Write them down without censoring them. Is what you’re saying fair and true? If not, generate new ways of thinking. Someone may have said horrible things to you long ago, but it’s possible you took over for them when it stopped.
  • Consider what you need to do to get emotional closure. Maybe you just need a simple apology. Find your minimal effective response – the easiest thing you can do to resolve your pain.
  • Share your experience with others. Finding a lesson in what happened can help put the experience in perspective and your emotions in check. People can thrive and suffer at the same time.

It all makes sense. But boy is it hard. Letting go of the life my ex-husband and I had planned together? Being hopeful for the life that is waiting for me alone? Letting go of dreams I dreamed, of the plans I made. Not only is it hard to fathom, but there are days when it feels unbearable.

I’m nostalgic as it is. The past always seems prettier, better, easier (especially after I’ve already overcome whichever hardships were in my way). Letting go has never been easy for me. Not with things and definitely not with people. Dare I dream new dreams and hope for a better future than the one I already had in mind?

I know that I have to move forward. Being stuck in the past isn’t healthy. But sometimes my history, OUR history smacks me in the face, and takes me backwards spiraling back to those memories; those happy moments which I wish would have lasted forever, those what if thoughts.

I want to be happy and feel complete and content in a future I did not expect. But this life I am living feels so foreign. I never imagined I would be here, in this place, without him. For many long months, it was more of a nightmare than a reality. But as the nightmare fades and I inch back into reality, I face a present with no clear direction or goals. What’s next? The future looks scary and lonely.

So, how do I dream again? How do I begin my new, different, and solo future? Lesson #2 said to start by taking small baby steps. It’s time to take a step.

9 Comments to “Lesson #11: Make Peace with Your Past So It Doesn’t Screw Up the Present”

  1. Very well said. I just posted some similar thoughts, but yours is more eloquent than mine. Peace to you.

  2. Good post. i particularly like the title. It expresses great wisdom. Also, I’ve never watched Dr. Phil, but his advice as listed here is sound. I particularly like the second one about giving away your power. Maybe it’s because I’m so much older than you but the thought of giving my ex any power or control whatsoever over my life incenses me and makes me all the more determined to let him go. I want no part of his life and I don’t want him to own any of mine. Yes, we have a history and a past but I’m choosing to disallow it in my present and my future. I predict that you’ll feel the same one day.

    Keep on keeping on. You’re getting to where you’re supposed to be. 🙂 Hugs!

  3. Well I suggest that the first baby step is to put up a profile on some dating sites. It will do wonders for seeing yourself through men’s eyes again and them wanting to be with you. Lonliness is everything that it is craciked up to be.

    You can enjoy dating again. You regain your power, becuase the men want to be with you and like the queen bee you get to decide who to mate with.

    Blessings on you an yours

    • Thanks John. I understand your point and while being the queen be can be entertaining and definately good for my spirit; Im not sure that’s the way I want to go about it. I feel that I need to focus on me first, before I let a man focus on me. Dating will come around on its own eventually.

  4. My LC asked me to write down all the things I’d love to do – never mind how stupid, improbable, whacky….!! These had to be instant ideas. He fed the lines like: What would you like to do as a job, where would you like to travel to,……

    Each response was the first thing that came into my head. Interesting how out of the ideas came things that I could do. Now I’m formulating them into goals.

    The problem with “Letting Go” – is it’s VERY difficult to do as the more one says to oneself “Let Go”, the more you keep thinking about how, the more you don’t know how to do it and so the more you don’t “Let Go” – at least that’s what I’ve found.

    So – my suggestion – forget about letting go. Think about what you’d like to do and then – with baby steps – set about doing it! Even if it’s a very small goal.

    And then – my theory – one day you’ll wake and find the pain is no longer as bad as before and that actually you have ‘let go’.

    It’s beginning to work for me.

    Good luck


  5. Caroline and Pat, Thank you for your kind words. I know i need to let go. Otherwise I wouldnt be writing about it. And there were times when I felt that letting go was happening naturally, it just happened. Like when I was falling for Mr. Temptation. But there’s a reason that I feel a bit stuck right now. Maybe its this whole new change of country, change of homes, change of friends….and maybe there’s something more. When I figure it out I may need to write about it.

  6. You wrote: So, how do I dream again? How do I begin my new, different, and solo future? Lesson #2 said to start by taking small baby steps. It’s time to take a step.

    I know EXACTLY how you feel. I’ve been divorced for seven years. More recently I parted ways with a boyfriend. I loved my bf more than any man I have ever known. I was supposed to move in with him and we were to be married this November. That dream faded away as photos of him and a woman half my age surfaced on Facebook. Dream over. Heart crushed. I’ve been so depressed and distracted for six months. I know what you mean by not knowing which direction to head. I HAD a direction. We HAD a plan. He ruined it.

    The sadness with eventually fade; I’m just not sure when. I look forward to the day I think of him and laugh instead of cry.

    I will say this –after my divorce I had a recovery plan and my life as a single woman was wonderful. I started working out, lost 30 pounds, started competing in triathlons and marathons. I took up skydiving and surfing. There is an amazing life out there for you. But it did take me 18 months post divorce to be ready for all those adventures. Now I am 40. A lot of time has passed and I have been disappointed in love in the last 7 years. But I will always remain hopeful that a Mr. Right is somewhere out there. But even if there isn’t, I have my bike, running shoes, wonderful friends and family to enjoy my life with.

    Good luck 30-something!


    P.S. HEY John/marriagecoach1 — SERIOUSLY?! Your advice is to pimp herself out? it is NOT necessary to be validated by strange men on a dating website to feel good about yourself. The purchase of a new pair of stilettos and running a marathon is SO MUCH MORE GRATIFYING! Bye2MrWrong, put stock in yourself, not in how some man perceives you. Posting on dating websites is the wrong move since your wounds are still fresh dear.

  7. Oh! And if you are on twitter, follow @theNotebook. The quotes are AMAZING!

    (Validate your wonderfulness by posting a profile on dating sites? Geez! I’m still peeved about THAT advice! But really, enter a 10k or half marathon or something with a finish line. I am a post-divorce Ironman triathlon finisher and anytime I get upset about anything, I remind myself that I am a bad-ass! Way better than a wink on match! WAY!)

  8. Dear 40-something. First of all thanks for sharinig your story. It is encouraging and inspiring to hear how someone turns themselves around to become such a strong “bad-ass” woman. Its also good to know the timeframe it took you to do this, so that I have something to look forward to.

    I’m glad you foud my blog, and I do hope you keep coming back, if only to give me tips and words of encouragement.

    Thanks x

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