“You cannot have a better tomorrow, if you are thinking about yesterday all the time.”
– Charles Kettering –
Most people don’t know how to let go of the past, as in the following story.
After my twins were born, I went back to work and needed someone to help me with the household chores. I found a nice woman, whose name was Naomi. When I first met her, she was in her late forties.
We became friends, and one day she told me her life’s story.
She got married in her early twenties. It was an arranged marriage, but she loved her husband very much, and after a year, she got pregnant.
One evening, her husband came home drunk. He sat down to eat, but he was not satisfied with the food she prepared for him, and started to beat her with no mercy. She shouted at him, “Stop beating me, I’m pregnant,” but he was drunk and kept beating her until he got tired.
At last, Naomi managed to get up and run to her brother, who lived nearby. He immediately took her to the hospital, but it was too late for the baby, who did not survive the beating.
A few months later, after a lot of pressure from Naomi’s brothers, her husband agreed to divorce her.
“I will never forget and forgive him for what he did to me,” said Naomi, 25 years after that horrible night. “I cannot let go of the pain he caused me. I will never get married again, because no man will ever control me again,” she ended her story, with tears in her eyes.
Naomi spoke about that awful night with anger and agitation, as if it all happened just a few days ago. She seemed was very determined not to let go of the past, and kept dwelling on it and allowing it to determine her present and future.
One day I introduced Naomi to my friend, Rachel, who hired her to work at her house too.
A few days later, Rachel told me that Naomi shared with her the same painful story.
Naomi’s attitude of not letting go of the past, but clinging to it, and reliving it over and again, created a heavy emotional burden for her, and this did not do any good to her life.
Naomi worked at my house for about a year, and then I decided to become a full time mom for a while.
Naomi carried a heavy emotional burden on her shoulders, which she refused to let go. She carried it constantly, shared it with anyone who was willing to listen, made it the most significant event of her life, and chose to dedicate the rest her life to that horrible event.
“Letting go of the past is like pulling the anchor of your ship, and letting it sail toward the horizon. ”
– Remez Sasson
What Is Emotional Burden?
Emotional burden is an emotional load, which is created when you make it a habit to dwell on upsetting memories, guilty conscience, anger, resentment and hurt feelings. It is like putting a bag on your back and carrying it with you wherever you go, no matter how heavy and inconvenient it is.
Carrying an emotional burden does not allow you to let go of the past. The emotional burden often determines the course of your life, and affects how you feel, behave, act and react, as it happened to Naomi.
I don’t know if you are aware of it, but the heavier the emotional burden is, the more it occupies your mind, saps your energy, and sentences you to a life of sadness, pain and lack of happiness. It is entirely up you whether to carry a heavy emotional burden the rest of your life, or choose let it go.
It makes a big difference in your life, if you make a negative past experience a milestone in your life and turn everything around it, or choose to display emotional detachment, and not let it affect you.
How Do You Let Go of the Past with Emotional Detachment?
One of the most efficient ways of letting go of the past is to practice emotional detachment.
Displaying a certain degree of emotional detachment will help you get rid of the distressing past, and protect you from disturbing emotions.
“Emotional detachment is like a pair of scissors that cuts the ropes that tie your burden to your back.”
– Remez Sasson
When you do not let go of the past, you leave no place in your heart for love and joy. However, when you release the past, you make room in your mind and heart for love, joy and happiness.
What Is Emotional Detachment?
Emotional detachment is very useful skill, which you can learn and practice, like learning to drive, cook, or any other skill you wish to acquire.
This skill enables you to stop reliving the past, let go of negative feelings, and chose happiness over sadness and anger. Emotional detachment will also help you remain calm and levelheaded in unpleasant and uncomfortable situations.
There are various techniques for practicing emotional detachment. In the book, “Emotional Detachment for Happier Life”, Remez Sasson speaks about these techniques, and explains how to use them effectively, whenever you need some emotional detachment in your life.
Practicing emotional detachment will help you let go of past painful experiences.
The way to let go of the past is by NOT GIVING IT ROOM IN YOUR MIND, and not allowing it to grow and “flourish”.
If you stop giving attention to your unpleasant memories, you stop feeding them with emotions and thoughts, and prevent them from growing and taking roots in your mind and heart.
How do you stop giving your past the power to control your present and future?
The answer is simple, don’t pour attention into your negative past memories. Here is what you need to do it.
1. An important step toward letting go of the past is to become aware of your tendency to dwell on negative past events.
2. Pay attention to what is going on in your mind, and notice how often you have these negative thoughts and memories in your mind.
3. Notice the level of anxiety and anger you experience when these upsetting memories arise in your mind.
4. When upsetting memories come to mind, you have two options:
You can continue reminiscing the past and letting anger and hurt feelings grow stronger within you, or you can stop these unhappy thoughts.
5. You will find it helpful to stop dwelling on your past, by using the emotional detachment technique, “Shifting the mind to the positive”.
How do you practice this method and let go of the past?
You do so by replacing your negative memories with positive ones.
- Make a list of a few pleasant and happy memories that you enjoy to think about.
- Each time you become aware that painful memories are occupying your mind, don’t nurture them with attention and emotions. Instead, replace them with one or more of the happy and pleasant memories you have put on your list.
- Instead of dwelling on painful past memories and experiencing anger and sadness, you let go of the past, occupy your mind with pleasant memories and with their associated happiness and pleasant emotions.
- In this way, you occupy your mind with happy past memories, rather than with negative and distressing ones.
From now on, strive to let go of the past and any associated painful memories, and begin to enjoy and celebrate the positive events of your life.
Let go of the past and do not allow it to shape your life and your attitude. Instead, let positive thoughts and positive memories shape your life.
Do you allow negative thoughts and emotions to control your mind and make you unhappy? Do you let other people's problems distress and agitate you? You can stop all this.