The Art of Letting Go of the Past

I was watching Oprah’s Life Class, when Iyanla Vanzant was guest speaking. It was a series on Daddyless Daughters and the women were discussing how not having a father impacted them. As the ladies tried to help these queens get past their hurt and into their truth, Iyanla went on to say something along the lines of, “Okay, daddy’s gone…. Now what?”

I was shocked that her response was so blunt…. but then I realized, she wanted us to realize that while the situation may have happened, it should not be the end all to life.

Now What?

Do I allow my pain to dictate my past, present, and future?

Or do I let it go and move past it?

In order to heal, letting go of past pain is the best thing you can do for yourself. I was holding out for an apology or some miraculous epiphany on the wrongdoer’s behalf before I could truly recover.

But the truth is, every time I tell this story, every time I hang on to this excuse, every time I explain my life starting with this big void I allow it to have too much power over my life.

This is true for any person or circumstance in your life that has a hold on you. The longer you hold onto it, the more it defines you. The more you speak on it, the more pain you relive, the harder it is to heal.

But, if you just let it go, you will start to heal.

Letting Go

Now letting go of past pain can be tough, especially if you’ve been holding onto it for years, it has happened to you repeatedly, or you were hurt by someone you truly care about, but it’s not impossible. Here are some steps I took to start recovering and removing this emotional baggage I was holding onto.

  1. Put Your Foot Down

You have a choice as to whether or not a person or circumstance will dictate your present, future, and happiness. It is your choice to hold onto the drama or to release the negative energy from your mind, heart, and soul. You’re going to need to put your foot down and really commit to letting go. For me, this meant repeating to myself over and over again, “It is in the past. I’m over it.” I said that even when I really wasn’t over it, until eventually I started to get past it.

  1. Express Your Pain

Let it out. You can’t truly let something go until you let out how you feel. Express yourself. If you have the convenience of expressing it to the person that hurt you, do so. If not, do what I did and write it down. Draft a letter but never send it, write it down in a journal and forget about it, or even create an email and actually send it to the person you want to express your feelings to.

  1. Take Ownership of Your Part

Whether we want to believe it or not, in many cases, we play a role in our pain. Maybe we stayed in a relationship longer than we knew we should have, or we tolerated negative treatment with the hopes of better treatment in the future. Whatever the case is, you need to take ownership for the part you played in your pain. Knowing the mistakes you made can help you prevent the same hurt from happening in the future.

  1. Focus on the Present

Whatever happened to you in the past is in the past. Every time you revisit the past you drudge up old feelings which in turn causes you to hurt all over again. Focus on the present, things that are making you happy, the things in your life that you can change and want to change going forward. This will minimize thoughts of the past therefore allowing you to let go and heal.

  1. Forgiveness

This is the most difficult part of letting go of your emotional baggage – forgiveness. There’s something about forgiving a person who wronged you that just doesn’t sit well. I used to think forgiveness meant their actions are okay. I also used to believe that forgiveness was a gift that I didn’t believe they deserved from me. Yet the truth is, forgiveness is for you, not the other person. Forgiveness says I do not agree with what you did, but I forgive you for it – even if that person is you.

Letting go of what has pretty much defined you and your every move for years can be tough. You don’t realize how much pint up emotions, unresolved issues, and past pain can impact your life, until it actually does. For a better part of two decades I was holding on to negative experiences, pain, and hurt from my childhood and it was changing the way I lived life as an adult. But once I let it go, and let it flow, I realized everything was going to be okay.

So queens. Are there things you’re still holding onto that you should really let go? How do you get past pain and hurt?

Until my next post, #stayblessed #staybeautiful







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