When we are on a journey of healing, the focus is very often put on moving forward, leaving previous memories, events or situations behind and even sometimes ‘forgetting the past.' Sometimes we forget to acknowledge and appreciate how much we have learned from what we have been through, and how much inner strength we gained from the obstacles, tests and battles we have found ourselves facing and overcoming.
So... Should the past be left behind and forgotten? Or is it an opportunity for us to learn, to heal, to evolve? How can we release and move forward to the next stage of our life?
‘Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.’ – Soren Kierkegaard
There is a card in the ‘Work Your Light’ Oracle Deck by Rebecca Campbell which carries such a strong message when thinking about your past and everything you have been strong enough to overcome. The Ever Unfolding Rose – Cracked open. It’s happening for you, not to you.’ This is such eye-opening guidance – to allow these things to happen, to allow hurt and loss to open you up, rather than causing you to close your heart. When this card appears in a reading, it is a gentle reminder that everything is going to be okay, and it is time to trust the process.
Although it is incredibly important to look towards the future, at what we have to look forward to and be excited for, it is equally important for us to honour our past, and look back at what we have gained, rather than what we have lost.
Looking back at the past isn’t always easy. It can recall memories of pain, people who left our lives and what we see as missed opportunities… However, by looking at the past and acknowledging past experiences, we give ourselves the tools required to release. Releasing is a huge part of anyone’s healing journey – whether it’s releasing expectations, releasing pain, releasing regret or guilt, even releasing stubborn grudges. On the bright side, however hard it may feel, it is possible to cherish past memories without storing negative emotions, or unwanted pain every time you reminisce.
One of the most difficult, yet extremely healing practices you can do is to begin to thank the past for what it has taught you. Everything that happens for us, and around us, carries a chance to learn, grow, and evolve. If you find this difficult, refrain from putting pressure on yourself, it doesn’t mean you are failing, or that you won’t heal. Sometimes you won’t be able to show gratitude or find reasons for every single event in your past, and that’s okay, but whenever possible allow yourself to do it. Maybe that heartbreak taught you more about your standards and who you are as a person. Perhaps the job you left helped you to realise which path you want to take in life.
It is not always easy to work out why events from your past occurred – sometimes it is just a case of putting your trust into the universe, and realising that we do not need to know all the ins and outs. As humans, we tend to feel nervous or anxious if we don’t have control over a situation, therefore it can be difficult to fully entrust the universe – but letting go can take such a huge weight off our shoulders. Look at everything you have been through, everything you have battled or battling, everything you have overcome or is in the process, and you’re still here and more amazing than ever.
‘I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right … and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.’ – Marilyn Monroe
This feeling of ‘things falling apart’ is a reason why so many people become nervous when the Tower card comes up in a tarot reading. Much like the Tower, you may feel that sometimes you are in the middle of chaos, the middle of destruction, the middle of everything falling apart… Just think about what this is doing for you. You are creating space, creating energy, creating opportunity for amazing things to come into your life.
If you are holding onto your past, then how are you going to embrace these exciting new possibilities? Once you begin to truly release the past, as well as current situations that no longer enhance your life, you may be blown away at how quickly the next adventure presents itself to you. Allow yourself to let go of regrets and grudges. Gift yourself permission to release and evict any guilt or self-blame, any unwanted energy pulls, allowing space to welcome what you have to look forward to.
You may be asking yourself ‘where do I begin? How do I let go of the past? Am I ready?’ There are many varieties of ways to help yourself release past pains, old ways of thinking and what no longer serves you. Your healing journey will not be the same as anyone, some ways of releasing will work for you, some won’t. It’s all about finding what works for you, what assists in lightening your load, aligning your perspective and how you deploy you precious energy.
Whether you’re a beginner who finds it difficult to sit still for more than five minutes, or whether you find yourself meditating for hours a day, you can find guided meditations for every level. You can find guided meditations for just about everything online, and if one doesn’t work for you just move on and find another one.
It may be that you want to try a general releasing meditation if you’re not sure where to start, but you can also be guided into a more specific releasing meditation – for example, releasing old relationships, releasing pain from the past. What is important when practising meditations is being gentle with yourself. Don’t worry if it doesn’t work for you at first, there’s no right or wrong way to meditate, you will ways that work for you. Allow emotions that arise during meditation to flow, let yourself cry – this is not a sign of weakness and it does not mean that you’re 'doing it wrong.' Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – the more relaxed you are, the easier you will find the meditation.
Maybe the last time you journaled was when you were eight years old, talking about that celebrity crush you had, or maybe you journal every day. Journaling is such a healing practice, especially when it comes to releasing. If journaling is something that doesn’t come naturally to you then that’s okay – you can work with journaling prompts which help to guide you through.
You will probably surprise yourself once you begin to journal, things will come up that you didn’t even realise you were still holding onto. Similar to meditation, there is no right or wrong way to journal. If you are finding it really difficult to the point where you can’t put a pen to paper, just sit down and start to write ‘I don’t even know what to write’ - take the pressure and the expectations off and allow the words to flow freely. Maybe writing your feelings down just isn’t for you, which is also okay. You can draw pictures, you can write a poem, a song or even a script!
When focussing on releasing the past and opening up an excellent journaling exercise is to either write a letter to your past self, or to an individual who was also involved in that situation, you never have to send it, you don’t even have to read it after you’ve written it. If it is a letter to your past self, this is an opportunity to give yourself the support, the compassion, the love that you may not have received when you needed it the most. If you compose a letter to someone else, there are probably a lot of things that you have carried around like a weight on your shoulders, that you now have the opportunity to let go of. Maybe you have been waiting for an apology, or an explanation, that you’re just not going to get. It is not your weight to carry – give yourself permission to put it down.
After you have written the letter, you may want to burn it, drown it or rip it up (just make sure you do this safely!) You can do this with any of your journaling – seeing that visual release in front of your very own eyes is such a beautiful, healing moment. Release that pain to the universe. Say thank you and goodbye. Move forward. Remember, you can remember what happened without having to carry the negative emotions that were attached to it.
Surround Yourself With People Who Lift You
The people you surround yourself with, the environment you allow yourself to be in, these are just as important as all of the inner healing. It may be that you have a friend who you speak to regularly, who constantly makes you feel like you’re not good enough, like you aren’t worthy of releasing the past. Maybe this person constantly reminds you of the ‘mistakes’ you made in the past. It is time to release any people who do not uplift you, likewise with jobs and situations that make you feel a similar way. If you are surrounded by this, you will probably find that you have a resistance in letting go of the past. Allow yourself to release everything, past or present, that makes you feel like you can’t move forward.
Embrace The Next Stage Of Your Life
Be excited, be hopeful, be ready to level up. You deserve to not only move forward, but also to move onwards and upwards. Everything that has been weighing you down and holding you back from elevating to the next adventure, it is safe and it is time to put it down. Your energy, time and effort are precious, give yourself permission to put your everything towards the life you want to be living, you are closer than you think.
Just a few things to remember, move forward with your past, not against it. You don’t have to let go of the memories, the lessons or the strength that you gained from the past, but you no longer have to carry the guilt, the regret, the shame, the hurt, the negative energy.
Give yourself permission to move forward. Always be gentle and kind to yourself as you go through your very own healing journey. The feelings, the emotions, the tears, let them flow, then let them go.
Allow what is not for you to fall away, so that what is for you can fall into place. Be ready for all the amazing opportunities, exciting possibilities and beautiful adventures that are coming your way. You deserve every single one of them!
‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.’ - Steve Jobs
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