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Episode 129: Letting Go Of The Past

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How many times do you need to hear a joke before it’s no longer funny?
3?
4?
5?
What if you replayed that joke every day for a few years, would you find it anywhere near as funny as you did when you first heard it?
I doubt it.

So why do we find that we can hold onto bad experiences for years and still feel upset about it?

It may sound daft but it’s often because there is a part of us that doesn’t want to let go of the past trauma. Losing the memory completely might leave us vulnerable to the same threat returning. If it’s always on our mind then we’ll always be on the lookout for the potential for it to happen again and so can run away from it before it even starts.
If that happens with you then congratulations you’re human.

Although in the 21st century it’s probably OK to let anything that happened to you in the past stay in the past.
But, in order to move on and leave it in the past we need to recognise that the past is gone. The first step in doing that is to spend some time living in the NOW, to notice more about what’s going on in the present.
Lately that process is part of what’s being called Mindfulness, and has been around as a process for thousands of years under various different names, and is still around today.
Whether you call it Mindfulness or Meditation, we are all capable of doing it.
All of us, no matter how stressed or anxious, will at times have a blank mind. Whether that’s because we’re enjoying a piece of music, a book or even a thought.
Sometimes things just seem to pause and we’re only noticing something that we’re focusing on.
I recommend you practise that, because taking that first step in letting go of the past by only noticing the present, gives you evidence that its safe to leave the past where it belongs.

Do you need to stop being a victim?
I know that sounds a bit rude, after all something could’ve happened that was awful, but blaming someone else for how you feel years later isn’t helping.
Take responsibility for your emotions. If you’ve been practising negative emotions you can get so good at them that they feel automatic, and you create the feelings so fast they seem outside of your control. But it’s just a skill, you’ve got good at feeling bad, thats all.
So get good at feeling good. by practising.
Everything we have to learn to do takes practise, and part of succeeding at something does mean being bad at it first for a while, but keep at it, you’ll get there.

Take responsibility for your happiness. Don’t let someone from your past have control over your emotions, why let someone continue to hurt you, deliberately? I know it can be hard but that’s OK, hard work pays off in pretty much every circumstance certainly this one.
Overcoming these things doesn’t happen by accident, it happens because we let it happen.

Do you need to forgive someone for something, obviously not everyone is going to be forgiven, there are some things that we can’t forgive and I wouldn’t ask you to. But there are some events that could easily create anger towards someone and thats not helpful, it eats away at us and keeps the past locked in our minds as if it’s the present.
See if you can create some genuine empathy, try and look at it from their perspective. Most people that come to therapy are suffering with nothing more than life itself, a phrase that Freud used 100 plus years ago, and it’s still (mostly) the case today. Yes, there are some awful things too, but the majority are petty, relatively trivial, and that can be frustrating to a client because they know that they shouldn’t be feeling as bad about it as they do.
But they keep going back in their mind to maybe one particular time that they were hurt, and if someone was to honestly explain why they did what they did to you or said what they said, they’d probably reply “Because it seemed like the right thing to do at the time”.
They don’t have to admit that they were wrong for you to let it go, and you don’t need them to apologise in order to feel OK about it.
If whatever you’re doing with your thoughts isn’t helping, then it’s time to do something different and welcome a little bit of blue sky into your life.

Episode List

Episode 138: Keeping Up With The Joneses
Episode 137: The Likeable You
Episode 136: Why It's OK To Be A Loser
Episode 135: The Psychology Of Extremism
Episode 134: Are You A Lobster?
Episode 133: Critical Thinking
Episode 132: There Is Nothing Either Good Or Bad
Episode 131: The For And Against Of Imagination
Episode 130: Loneliness & Social Networks
Episode 129: Letting Go Of The Past
Episode 128: What Is Love?
Episode 127: Procrastination
Ep. 126: Who Were You Before The World Changed You?
Episode 125: Stop Saying "Sorry"
Episode 124: Emotional Contagion
Episode 123: Patience
Episode 122: Building On Your Foundations
Episode 121: Dealing With The Critics
Episode 120: Being Assertive. Just Say No!
Episode 119: Inactivity
Episode 118: Social Functioning & Evolution
Episode 117: Unleash Your Inner Superhero
Episode 116: Goals, Values and Priorities
Episode 115: 10 Tips To A Happier Life
Episode 114: Lies And Confabulation
Episode 113: Confirmation Bias
Episode 112: Are You An Imposter?
Episode 111: What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger
Episode 110: Are New Years Resolutions a good idea?
Episode 109: The African Violet Queen Of Milwaukee
Episode 108: Reframing
Episode 107: Spiders And Behaviourism
Episode 106: Practise Makes Perfect
Episode 105: Fear Of Flying
Episode 100 - 104: Happiness
Episode 99: Body Image And The Media
Episode 98: Evolution and Adaptation
Episode 97: Reflections And Regrets.
Episode 96: Dealing With Fear
Episode 95: Confidence
Episode 94: Enthusiasm
Episode 93: Tips To Relieve Christmas Stress
Episode 92: Dealing With Change
Episode 87 - 91: Self Esteem
Episode 86: Correlation Does Not Imply Causation
Episode 85: The Importance Of Being Lazy
Episode 84: Elephant Chains
Episode 83: Eating Bananas And Setting Goals
Episode 82: Ignoring The Media And Listening To Music
Episode 81: Awakening The Instincts
Episode 80: The Fine Line Between Love And Hate
Episode 79: The Best Medicine
Episode 78: A New Start
Episode 77: Time Distortion
Episode 76: Making Decisions
Episode 75: What's In A Name?
Episode 74: Pushing Ourselves Further
Episode 73: Conformity
Episode 72: Purpose
Episode 71: Perspective
Episode 70: Expectation
Episode 69: The Mind / Body Link
Episode 68: Overcoming Shyness
Episode 67: Mood Boosting
Episode 66: Sabotaging your goals
Episode 65: Self Talk
Episode 64: Money Makes The World Go Round
Episode 63: First Impressions Count
Episode 62: False Belief
Episode 61: Absolutes
Episode 60: The Psychology of feeling calm
Episode 59: Belief
Episode 58: Anchoring Emotions
Episode 57: Negativity and Perspective
Episode 56: Health And Happiness
Episode 55: Imagination vs Reality
Episode 54: Change