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How to Let Go of the Past

Detachment – Forgiveness – Faith – Trust – Hope

All spiritual principles encouraged in the Bahá’í Faith as well as other religions, but how do we apply them to painful situations that continue to plague our lives?

In order to live a full and complete life, we must learn how to let go of past failures and disappointments and not carry them with us into our future.

Hanging on to pain, bitterness and disappointment from a past conflict is a heavy burden. It affects your moods, attitudes, relationships, job and all aspects of your life. Negativity eats away at your self-esteem and destroys any possibility of a life free from pain.

Fortunately, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel! Your future doesn’t have to be a repetition of your past. You don’t need to be destined to a life of pain, regardless of what you’ve already been through. You can lay down your burdens. It’s okay for you to be free. In fact, you deserve it!

These six steps will help you move forward and find the freedom you need to begin living a fuller, more enjoyable life, regardless of what lies in your past:

1. Talk about it. Discuss your past pain, fear, disappointment or trauma with a trusted friend or family member. Fully express the feelings associated with the situation: cry, scream, or do whatever you need to do to release the bottled up emotions in a safe way.

Until you really talk about the feelings connected to your past, you may not be able to move past them. Once you’ve spoken the words, release them from your mind forever. As hard as it may be, it’s the only way to free yourself from your past.

…let us turn our hearts away from the world of matter and live in the spiritual world! It alone can give us freedom!    (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 110)

2. Use a journal. Writing in a journal is an excellent way to pour out your pain. A journal offers the safety of knowing your words are just for you and won’t be read by anyone else. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or even if the words follow a logical progression, simply write from the heart.

Physically writing your thoughts and feelings can release your emotions so you can move past them.

And as you come to the end of your writing, reflect on the good that came out of the event.

To look always at the good and not at the bad. If a man has ten good qualities and one bad one, to look at the ten and forget the one. And if a man has ten bad qualities and one good one, to look at the one and forget the ten.  (Dr. J.E. Esselmont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, p. 83)

3. Seek forgiveness. Many people misunderstand the meaning of forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t mean what happened to you is unimportant or you’re saying it’s “okay.” In fact, forgiveness isn’t about the other person at all.

Forgiveness simply means that you’ve made the choice to let go of the desire to exact revenge and punishment, and you’ve found closure within your heart and soul.

Forgiveness releases you from the burden of carrying the pain any longer. By choosing to forgive, you can stop thinking about the past so it won’t control your future.

The Bahá’í Writings tell us:

You are urged to strive to develop for¬giveness in your heart . . . and to attain a level of insight which sees them as captives of their lower nature, whose actions can only lead them deeper into unhappiness and separation from God. By this means, you can liberate yourself from the anger to which you refer in your letter. (Universal House of Justice to an individual, Dec. 2, 1985)

4. Seek professional guidance. You can choose to get help from a life coach or therapist.  The people closest to us aren’t always the best choice to help us work through our pain. It may be difficult for us to fully open up about our deepest pain or it may be hard for them to step back far enough to help us through it.

Seeking guidance from a professional gives us the safety of relative anonymity, which can make it easier to share our problems. Often a coach or counselor can help us see a new point of view, which can help us move forward.  If you need the help of a life coach, Susan provides the first 30 minutes at no cost to you.  Click here to email her for more information.

5. Use alternative therapies. There are many techniques you can use to help change your mindset, which can be instrumental in leaving the past behind.

One method, known as EFT or Emotional Freedom Technique, uses the principles of acupuncture (without the needles!) to help you take the “charge” out of your feelings. EFT is done by tapping with your fingertips on the meridian points in the upper part of your body.

The tapping sequence, combined with verbally expressing your feelings, helps break up the blockage of energy caused by the negative feelings, allowing you to release them.  For more information, do a Google search – there are lots of good articles on EFT out there.

6.  Read the Bahá’í Writings, morning and night.  Not only is it a requirement, it serves a practical function as well.  As we see in the Bahá’í Writings:

Peruse My verses with joy and radiance. Verily they will attract you unto God and will enable you to detach yourselves from all save this resplendent Tablet.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, p. 188)

Hanging onto past negativity isn’t necessary. No matter what your history contains, you can learn to release it and move forward into a life filled with contentment and joy. Find a method that works for you and begin, today, to let go of the past and move into the life you deserve!