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How to Move on from the Past and be Happy

by Roveen Anyango
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Are you living in the past? Are you struggling with letting go of terrible memories, or even good memories, that no longer serve you? How can you move on from the past?

We often speak of moving on as though it is a switch that one flips and boom! The past is dead and gone. However, ruminating is a habit that we often do even when we don’t want to. Be it coming up from a failed business venture, relationship, or traumatic event, it is often hard to forget it.

How, then do you break free from this habit?

Learn to forgive yourself

Rumination, especially when something went wrong in the past, will often be us trying to imagine how we would have done things better.

Now, while it is important to learn from past mistakes, when you constantly look back to your past failings and continually blame yourself, you are unlikely to move on. Instead, you will often look back in regret as to why you did not act better.

To move on, learn to forgive yourself. Oh, you made a mistake? Fine, take your lessons, pick yourself up and keep moving.

Avoid letting others define you

On the flip side, you will often not move on if you let others who wronged you live in your mind rent-free.

Blaming others, even when they rightly wronged you, means that you are letting them define how you live your life. This means then, that you have a hard time letting go of what happened.

Instead, realize that you can’t control what other people do, but you can control how you react to their actions. Regain control by choosing to let go of the past and focusing on what you learnt from the experience instead.

Create physical distance if possible

If you are with a person, or in a place where something happened in the past and you can’t bring yourself to move on, perhaps distancing yourself from them or the place can help.

Psychologist, Ramani Durvasula, notes that creating physical and psychological distance between ourselves and the person or situation helps us move on. This is because we are not having to constantly be reminded of the person or place, and thus, become much less likely to think about it as time goes on.

Talk about it

When you find it hard to move on from the past, feel free to talk about it. Durvasula, PhD, says that sometimes, many people have a hard time moving on because they feel like they aren’t allowed to talk about it.

So, if possible, find a therapist, or a patient friend and express yourself about what is haunting you. Sharing a problem helps you get rid of the feelings you continue to have about it. This improves the chances of you moving on.

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