Do you feel like your relationship with your parents has ruined a part of you? Did it scar you in a way? Even when it all seems right, do small triggers create huge fights with your folks?
Do you experience hardship when it comes to releasing your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend from your heart? Do painful memories of your previous romantic relationships keep on coming back, even though you moved on? Do you feel like those experiences are walking with you towards other romantic relationships and sabotaging them?
Letting go, for most people, is not an easy task. Some refuse to forgive and move on, but for many others, there is a willingness to release the ties that connect them to painful memories, but they just don’t know how to do it.
Being stuck in the past and reminiscing about old hurtful memories that refuse to leave your soul is not an easy thing to deal with.
It can lead you to melancholia, sadness, ignoring the beauty around you, bitterness, a lack of ability to enjoy the moment, and other accompanying negative feelings.
What makes people keep on maintaining those memories or experiences in their lives?
First, it happens automatically. There is a lack of awareness in this process, and where there is no awareness, the automatic pilot comes into action. Second, you are getting something out of this. It might be difficult for you to admit it. You’re probably thinking: “What?! How do I gain something out of this? How do I get any benefit from having bad memories growing up with a yelling mom?”
Yes, you are getting something out of it. Could it be that it puts you in a place where you don’t need to take responsibility? Do you feel like you’re giving up on yourself in certain situations because of your past? Maybe it’s easier to blame than to make a change? Could it be that feeling of love for your ex is some kind of an escape from your daily life?
Ask yourself what you are getting out of this. What kind of benefit does it provide you? When you find a clear answer, it will make sense why you are still keeping this past within.
You may have suffered from an ex-husband who was cheating on you, parents who criticized you, cut your wings, were over protective, or over allowing… an experience at school that hurt you as a child, a teacher who humiliated you in front of the whole class, an ex-girlfriend who told you lies… discrimination you experienced in your previous job or an ex supervisor who never appreciated your work.
Letting go of those painful emotions is completely necessary. There is no reason to perpetuate those feelings and re-experience them every time there’s a trigger that pops up. Letting go of those past experiences is taking responsibility of your emotional state; it’s a must, and if you won’t be committed to your life, nobody will. You need to feel committed to step out of the emotional prison and adopt a different approach… an approach that doesn’t put you in the spot of the victim, but a spot that requires you to think and feel differently.
Now that you understand that releasing those painful ties once and for all from your mind is, in fact, being committed to yourself, how can you do it?
- Forgiveness – forgive the other person or people who have left in you a painful, emotional stinger. You have to forgive them, even though it feels impossible. Forgiveness will release you from the sticky spot those memories put you in. Forgiveness will allow you to proceed on your way and experience new events as they are, without connecting them to what you’ve had happen in the past. You are not doing it for the other person; you’re doing it for you. Forgive others to liberate yourself.
- Understanding – understand where they come from, whether it’s your mom who was screaming at you or doubted you, whether it’s your ex-husband who was deceiving you, or whether it is your boss who was after you. Understanding their behavior doesn’t mean that you agree with it. Understanding simply means that you realize they used the tools at their disposal. They didn’t have better tools or methods to use – that’s what they knew. As a matter of fact, knowing this should make you feel better, because you are more evolved, more aware and you know you will never behave this way. Understand that they did whatever they thought was best.
- Gratitude – feel grateful for what you have. Being thankful for the things you have now in your life intensifies the positivity in your energy circle and makes you feel wonderful emotions. Gratitude empowers the spiral of positive energy to flow into your life.
In addition to cherishing what you already have, it’s necessary that to develop an attitude of gratitude towards your past, including those hurtful memories. Why is that? Because painful experiences make you grow and evolve, they make you appreciate better situations, and they make you work on yourself as an individual and strengthen the bond you have with yourself and others.
Be grateful that your boss was humiliating you, because that motivated you to look for another job which made you feel comfortable and safe; feel thankful for your complications with your mom because now you can avoid the mistakes she made.
When life gives you lemons – make lemonade. It won’t lead you anywhere to be grumpy about the past, or to carry that attitude into different situations that are not related to it whatsoever. Instead, change the way you perceive it. Think about the aspects of those memories that you can feel grateful for… think about new ways those experiences can actually lead you toward better directions.
I want to share a story with you of an old friend of mine from college.
We used to be very close back in school, but after school was over, we both were too busy to keep in touch and we separated geographically. I was working on my businesses and my friend was working on his career at a very respectful government job.
A few years later, I was on a business trip in the city he was living in at the time. I called him so we could get together and catch up on all the changes in our lives, and bring up memories (happy ones.)
We met at a local coffee shop. After catching up and a small chit chat, I asked him about his life and he answered –
“Not so good”…
“I disconnected from my mother. She is getting on my nerves. You know, as a child, she never guided me, she never told me I could make it. She was always stressed, worried and anxious. We had a huge fight a few months ago about all those things. She refuses to admit it, she refuses to take responsibility or apologize. I’ve decided she doesn’t bring me any good to my life, so I don’t want to do anything with her”.
-“I just hope she’s paying the rent,” I answered
“What?! Did you listen to what I was saying? What are you talking about??”
-“I’m talking about the fact that she’s living inside your head!
She’s been living in your head since you were a child… that’s a long time. It takes up a lot of room; she must be paying lot!! So… how much is she paying you”?
“Hhmmm… she’s living in my head” [he’s now realizing the meaning of his anger] “rent is free…I never thought about it that way.. It’s just…. I can’t let it go, I am so angry at her”.
– “You see, everything is a choice. You can’t control her behavior or the tools she had to raise you. You can’t control her ego. You can only control yourself. But instead of taking this as something good, you created a jail in your head and you let her live there”.
“What can I do in order to get my resentment out of my head?”
– “You need to forgive her. Forgiving is letting go of resentment. You can choose to be the one who resents or the ones who forgives. My advice to you is find a way to CHOOSE forgiveness.”
“But what about my mother? Isn’t she responsible for her behavior and choices?
-“If she chose to act like that, that’s her choice. You don’t have to approve, and you don’t have to like it, but it was still her choice and you have no control over her. In the end, you have the freedom to choose how YOU behave”.
“It is so difficult to forgive…”
– “It’s one of the hardest things one can do! But the reward is great!
Haven’t you made mistakes that you wanted others to forgive you for?
We expect others to forgive us, but we find it difficult to forgive them.”
“You’re right. I don’t want to be a landlord anymore! I will forgive her. For real.”