There are few things that are certain in life. The past is one of the few things we can reflect upon without the fear of uncertainty. It has already happened, and cannot be changed. It is no wonder people cling to it even when it has a negative effect on our mental well-being.
We would be much better served leaving the unhelpful past behind, living in the moment, embracing what is good and current, looking forward to the bright things ahead. But there is a sense of safety in reliving our pasts. We know the outcome. People who did us wrong, times we’ve messed up, things we didn’t get, tragedies we’ve experienced—reflecting on these things will do little more than make us feel sad, angry, guilty, or resentful.
The past has its place and purpose. Making us miserable is not one of them.
With the holiday season soon behind us, and the New Year fast approaching, there is no better time to give yourself the gift of a future, free and clear.
How do you do that?
It starts with…Forgiveness
Many times an inability to let go is born from the inability to forgive. We may have never received acknowledgement of our pain or a genuine apology from those who have hurt us. For many people, these are a prerequisite of forgiveness, and we find it nearly impossible to move forward without them. Although a beautiful thought, it is unrealistic to expect that we will receive an apology for the things that have hurt us.
When people fall short of your expectations, take it upon yourself to meet your own needs. Take a moment to listen to your thoughts and feelings the way you wish they were heard by others. Offer yourself compassion for having been hurt, inconvenienced, or angered. Express remorse for those experiences, and choose to view them as a learning experience.
Really take time to think about what you would need to reach a place of healthy forgiveness and find a way to make that happen–even if it is never validated by anyone other than you.
Are you ready to let go of your unhelpful past and embrace the gift of a future, free and clear? Next week we’ll reveal the remaining two things you’ll need to do to get there.
Ready to step into your brighter future today? Let the counseling professionals at The Stone Foundation be of support to you and your loved one as you navigate this transition. Visit us online at www.thestonefoundation.com or call us at 410.296.2004. We are here to support you.
Please know that this article is intended for general, educational purposes only. This article, and others like it, should not and are not meant to take the place of professional counseling services or medical care.
Lauren Greenberg, MS, LGPC is a graduate of Loyola’s Counseling Practitioner Program. For three years, Lauren provided hotline crisis intervention to residents of Baltimore City. She also has experience providing counseling to students at a local college for issues including grief and loss, depression, substance abuse, self-harm, anxiety, and trauma. Her professional interests and areas of study include positive psychology, promoting social and emotional competence, and women’s issues.