Without realising it we often hold on to the voices and the experiences of the past. It is after all understandable. If things have had a major impact on us or caused a lot of pain or distress, then they are bound to stay with us. It takes time to fully process things. Holding on to them however – can really hold us back.
The past doesn’t define us. It contributes to who we are – and fundamentally we learn from it. But if we continue to live in it, or to worry about it, then we will never fully be able to embrace the present or look forward to the future. Anxiety, worries, and negative thought processes – they will continue to repeat and fundamentally, they will continue to hold us back.
If you think about the negative experiences in your life. Whether these relate to family, friends, romantic relationships, jobs, etc – if things haven’t worked out how you imagined and have caused you pain, then it can be easy to believe that these experiences will be repeated. It is understandable to doubt when previous pain has been caused – but if you live in a world of doubt, then you never take a leap of trust and you never embrace the idea of a different possibility.
Just because things happened the way they did in the past, it doesn’t mean that they will happen that way again. It is very scary to trust someone, or to trust something, when pain has been something you have experienced so much before. But if you allow that pain to dictate, then it will hold you back and it will sabotage your present and your future.
Letting go is not easy. Letting go is scary. Letting go can feel overwhelming at times. At other times it can feel liberating, exciting and cathartic. Perhaps it is worth considering that there is always a flip side. Life doesn’t have to follow the same path – change is possible and a different way of being is also possible for any of us.
It is not healthy or good for us to carry around the demons of the past with us. But it is understandable why so many people do. Sometimes we can get trapped in a vicious cycle, or caught up in the negativity that once surrounded us. However taking a leap of faith can open up a world of possibilities and can allow a brighter and better life to happen.
It does of course involve risk – but if we never take a risk, then we never know. We may feel safer in our own cocoon and we may feel less anxious with our defences up. But we may also feel trapped, stifled, alone, suppressed and pulled down by a very heavy weight on our shoulders. Isolated in a prison – a prison that can at times feel comforting but that comfort also stops us from truly living.
I often talk to clients in recovery about this – the notion of letting go. It doesn’t just apply to romantic relationships, friendships, jobs, homes, dreams etc. It also applies to eating disorders, addictions and any other forms of self-harming behaviours. To recover and walk away from these is terrifying. The not knowing – the fear of what’s on the other side.
The questions. Will I be ok? How will this be? Who am I without this? Yes of course those questions are all valid. They are real. Change shakes our identity and that is scary. But change is also exciting and liberating. Imagine the freedom of not being stuck in those negative thought processes. Imagine not being dictated to by someone or something. The ability to be you – and all the beauty that is you. How special could that feel?
This process is not easy and it involves a lot of soul searching, an openness and willingness to start to heal and let go. Therapy comes in here and it can be the most healing experience you could have. It offers the chance to begin to move forward – to let the experiences of the past go and to not allow them to define you. It is ok to be you and it is ok to be happy. You don’t have to be dominated by what once was. There is something better and brighter if you can take the chance and trust it.