Just Let It Go

by Stephen Mills on May 13, 2010

Letting It Go

A reader asked me to post my thoughts on how to forgive yourself and move on with your life.  I’m not sure I can tell anyone how, but I certainly can share my thoughts on why not doing so is itself such a tragic mistake.  It’s voluntarily attaching a ball and chain to yourself.

Think about a person who in your mind has changed the world or who has done something great with their life.  Now imagine that person had done something terrible, or something that they regretted deeply; something for which they were consumed with guilt.  Now imagine that instead of doing whatever they had done for which you so greatly admire them, they had instead remained paralyzed by guilt or regret.  Imagine what a tragedy that would have been!

You may not think you are going to change the world, although you might.  But let’s take it down to a level that applies to everyone.  There is at least one person who will be significantly impacted for the worse if you continue to wallow in the past – you.  For most people there will be a partner, a family, friends, or colleagues who will also be affected.

Every minute, hour, or day you waste worrying about the past, replaying it, remaining paralyzed by it, is just that – a waste.  It’s a minute, an hour, or a day you take away from yourself and your loved ones.

No matter what you have done, you only hurt yourself and others further by failing to forgive yourself and move on.  You are not the same person you were then.  The very fact that you have such deep regret over something, means you have grown in some way.  That was the old you.  The new you has let it go and has moved on to be the best you can be in the present and in the future.  You will never achieve that as long as you are hanging on to a past that by definition no longer exists.

Here is an article that offers some tips: Letting Go Of Your Past.  Jeff offered some of his own thoughts on how today in this article on moving past the past.  His article also contained this excellent quote.

“One of the few things that can’t be recycled is wasted time.” – Sean Covey

What do YOU think?  Leave a comment and join the conversation.

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Favorite Personal Development Links – May 15, 2010
May 16, 2010 at 1:16 pm

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

valerie May 13, 2010 at 11:42 pm

thanks for that. i knew but somehow had forgotten.

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Stephen Mills May 14, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Valerie, you are so welcome. Thanks for commenting.

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Positively Present May 14, 2010 at 3:22 am

Great post! It really is important to let things go. Holding on to them never does any good. Thank you for the great reminder!

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Stephen Mills May 14, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Hello Dani, you are so welcome and thanks for stopping by :-)

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Jack Bennett May 14, 2010 at 8:18 am

Eminently true – a wonderful, concise reminder of the importance of staying present and living within the present moment (which is all we really *can* do).
.-= Jack Bennett´s last blog ..The things that you think will make you happy won’t make you happy =-.

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Stephen Mills May 14, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Hi Jack, you are so right. The present is all there really is. The past is just remembering in the present. It’s over and done with and we probably misremember it anyway. Thanks for your comment :-)

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Srinivas Rao May 14, 2010 at 10:29 am

I have been reading the Eckhart Tolle Book “The Power of Now” over the last few weeks, and it’s largely about letting go. Attachment to our past tends to have a very negative impact on our present and even possibly our future. When we get stuck in the past, it can be a real trap. When we finally do let go, it’s liberating and we find ourselves in a position of reaching our full potential. At least, that’s been my experience.

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Stephen Mills May 14, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Srinivas, I really loved that book. I don’t agree with some of his more mystical philosophizing, but his writing about the power of now is outstanding. Thank you for leaving your thoughts :-)

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Mike King May 14, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Stephen, forgiveness to ourselves is certainly crucial to not letting pain take grip of us and limit us in lives. It is also a step in the direction of learning to let go of things others do to us as well. There are times were our own unforgiveness is doing what we most often have it for (causing pain as payback to the other person) but usually not forgiving is only hurting ourselves.
.-= Mike King´s last blog ..100 Ways to Improve Your Relationships =-.

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Stephen Mills May 17, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Mike, that is certainly correct. Self-forgiveness and other-forgiveness are both critically important to moving forward and letting go of the past. Thanks for commenting.

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Grampa Ken for change May 16, 2010 at 8:47 am

That’s such a good point to make for healthy living Stephen. We all make mistakes and can be depressed and burdened with regret for many years, but carrying on in this way is just another big mistake. Yesterday is gone we only have today and tomorrow.
.-= Grampa Ken for change´s last blog ..Poor, Hungry and Hopeless =-.

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Stephen Mills May 17, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Grampa Ken, thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts. Allowing our past mistakes to reach forward into the present is only doubling down on the original problem.

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Mike Lipinski May 16, 2010 at 5:56 pm

I’m all for re-framing the past. Unfortunately, it isn’t so easy or straightforward for everyone. For instance, I’ve had emotional problems my entire life because my mother stomped on my feelings, so I grew up under a cloud of depression that, in fact, was hiding a whole spectrum of feelings I didn’t even know about. My best therapy, so far, has been acting out the grief from my past – literally allowing myself to cry and have temper tantrums (in the privacy of the bathroom, usually in front of a mirror, so no one is adversely affected by my exercises). Yes, they are exercises. The kind that actors engage in to get in touch with their feelings, which is why actors are able to cry or laugh at the drop of a hat. So far, crying has been coming pretty easily to me, now I have to get into the habit of laughing, which also takes practice. BTW, my mother was an actress. Interesting that she didn’t want me to own my own feelings!
Mike
Cheers.

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Stephen Mills May 17, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Hello Mike, I understand it isn’t always easy. It’s often not easy to go against what seems like human nature. I have found that laughing, even a forced laugh, is an excellent way to make myself feel better.

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Alison @ Femita February 14, 2011 at 3:51 am

Dwelling on past events is only useful if you take lessons from it and use them to change your future for the better. I believe too many people hold on to certain emotions of the past rather than analyzing the situation and thinking about how they could have handled it better.
Alison @ Femita´s last [type] ..How To Let Go Of The Past And Move On Without Losing Your Mind

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