5 Ways to Stop Pining for the Past

By Allie Brickman

“Cause the good ‘ol days weren’t always good and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems…”                                              

    -Billy Joel

“The good ol’ days,” “yester-year,” “Our glory days,” …we have many names for the great times in our lives. These times can leave us with wonderful memories that comfort us for years to come. However, sometimes these memories serve as a reminder of what we wish we still had, and moving on becomes a painful pursuit. 

The following are some techniques to help you stop pining for the past, and start live in the present:

1)   See through the fog

Sometimes time creates a haze around our memories, and the past looks like this perfect entity…a flawless time, place, relationship, or state of mind that can never again be attained. But see through the fog- no matter how good the past was- it was not perfect. When we are currently feeling sadness or pain it’s especially easy to idealize the past. Just remember, perfection doesn’t exist, and the past is no exception.

2)   Look at all angles 

Just as it’s easy to ignore the negative in the past, it’s easy to ignore the positive in the present. When we feel an overwhelming pang of regret or feelings of missing something it’s easy to let ourselves fall into the belief that everything, for lack of a better word, sucks. But the word ‘everything’ is what we need to focus on…though it’s sometimes hard to see it, life isn’t everything or nothing. There is good in our lives, even in the times we feel sadness. Look at your life from all angles, and to help- you can write down three things you are thankful for in your life today.

3)   Find the gifts it gave

Just because the past is in…the past, doesn’t mean it didn’t give you anything beneficial for today. The past teaches us what we do and don’t want out of life, people, and ourselves. Without these experiences, we wouldn’t learn nearly as much about what’s important to us. Take some time to find the good things your past has left you with in your present life. 

4)   Opening up so you can let go

A lot of times we hold on to the past because we keep our emotions about it locked up. We don’t open up to people about our wishes, our pains, our hopes, and our memories. Keeping these things bottled up can hinder our ability to let the past go. Whether it’s talking to a friend, a therapist, or expressing yourself through writing or some other means, letting your emotions out will help you understand your feelings and help you towards letting the past go.

5)   The power to create

Most of us only truly linger in the past when we are not satisfied with our present. So, let’s make a change! What do you wish was different? What can you do to make these differences? You have the power to change your life for the better. Even if you can’t make it perfect (since we know that doesn’t exist) you can make it better. It’s your life and it’s in your control.

If you’d like guidance along your path to letting go of the past and living fully in the present, feel free to contact me at allie@mytherapist.info or call 212-343-7008 x9 to set up an appointment today.

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