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  • Rob Lawrence

When To Let Go Of The Past: Your Ultimate Guide To Emotional Freedom

Snow white saying Bye felicia

Discover the power of letting go of the past and embracing emotional freedom. Learn effective strategies to move forward and find inner peace.


Are you struggling with past experiences that hold you back? Discover when and how to let go with our ultimate guide to emotional freedom. Learn the signs it's time to move on, effective strategies for releasing past trauma, and the incredible mental and emotional benefits of letting go.


A quote about letting go of the past




You know how life can lead us down unwanted paths we're not ready for or remotely capable of dealing with...... Well, that's been mine and my other half's life this past year. My partner went through something I can't imagine after losing his mom, dad, and stepmom within just 6 months, and I was living my own nightmare in a job where I was being bullied, lied about, harassed and gaslighted by what was essential a group of mean girls (Thanks Bluesci)

It felt like both of us had been living in a bubble of sadness and grief but over the last few months, things have really turned around..... Kris has managed to claw himself out of what was essentially a never-ending nightmare and I now work for a company that cares about the work they do and the staff they employ #JepYouthEngagment...... I'm also getting married this year and we are in the process of buying our first home together.... Exciting times.

I tell you this because I wanted to share with you my thoughts on dealing with past trauma and knowing when it's time to move forward. I know my partner and I have had different journeys, and we each have our own ways of coping with things but a couple of months ago, when we were stuck in a hotel in Berlin, there was a moment when we both unconsciously knew that it was time to start the process of laying the past to rest and looking forward to see what life looked like for us now.

When is the right time however and how to we start to move forward?

I've studied post-traumatic growth theory at Uni and it states that enduring struggles and trauma can not only strengthen our resilience but also teach us to let go of the past, allowing us to focus on moving forward and embracing a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

A cat sat in a box of lemons with the words when life gives you lemons

For the inspiration of this blog, I thought we could explore and discuss how holding onto the past can affect us, the signs that indicate it's time to move on, how to do it, and what we gain from moving on..... If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, then this is for you.


The Mental Health Effects Of Clinging To The Past

Holding onto the past, especially the negative stuff, can really mess with our heads and it can show up in different ways, messing with our mental health, relationships, and just how happy we are overall..... Let's see how (Sandford & Sandford, 2013)

Emotional Baggage

Carrying emotional baggage from past experiences can weigh heavily on our minds. This baggage often includes unresolved issues, regrets, guilt, and pain that linger and affect our current emotional state. It can lead to chronic stress, anxiety, and depression, making it difficult to enjoy the present moment and look forward to the future.

A young lad saying sorry

Impacts on Self-Esteem and Identity

Our past experiences significantly influence our self-esteem and sense of identity. Negative experiences, such as failures, rejections, or traumatic events, can erode our self-confidence and make us question our worth. Clinging to these experiences can trap us in a cycle of self-doubt and negative self-perception, hindering our ability to grow and achieve our full potential.

Relationship Strain

Holding onto past grievances and unresolved conflicts can strain our relationships. Whether it's resentment towards a friend, unresolved issues with a family member, or lingering pain from a past romantic relationship, these unresolved emotions can create barriers to forming healthy, fulfilling connections with others.

Hindrance To Personal Growth

Personal growth requires us to learn from the past, not live in it. When we hold onto past mistakes or failures, we may become risk-averse and avoid new opportunities. This fear of repeating past mistakes can stifle our ability to evolve and embrace new challenges that lead to personal development.


How To Know When It's Time To Let Go Of The Past

Knowing when it's time to move on from the past is the first step to feeling emotionally free and improving your mental health. Here are some signs that it may be time to let go and move forward:

Persistent Negative Emotions

If you find yourself constantly experiencing negative emotions such as anger, sadness, or guilt related to past events, it may be a sign that you need to let go. These persistent emotions can drain your energy and prevent you from enjoying the present.

Recurrent Thoughts And Rumination

Repeatedly thinking about past events, especially if these thoughts are intrusive and distressing, is a strong indicator that it's time to leave the past behind. Rumination can trap you in a cycle of negative thinking that hinders your ability to move forward.

Avoidance Of New Experiences

If fear of repeating past mistakes is causing you to avoid new experiences or opportunities, it's a clear sign that you're being held back by your past. This avoidance behaviour can limit your personal and professional growth.

it's a no from me meme

Impact On Current Relationships

When past experiences negatively impact your current relationships, it may be time to let go. For example, trust issues from a past betrayal can affect your ability to trust new partners, leading to strained or unhealthy relationships.

Physical Symptoms Of Stress

Holding onto emotional pain from the past can manifest in physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, or muscle tension. These symptoms can indicate that the emotional burden is taking a toll on your physical health.

a woman in a black suit with her head on fire about to explode with stress


Effective Strategies For Letting Go Of Past Trauma

Letting go of the past is a journey that requires self-awareness, effort, and sometimes outside support. Here are some strategies to help you move forward:

Acknowledge And Accept Your Feelings

The first step in letting go is acknowledging and accepting your feelings about the past. Suppressing or denying these emotions can prolong your pain. Allow yourself to feel and express your emotions, whether it's through journaling, talking to a trusted friend, or seeking professional help.

Learn From The Past

Reflecting on past experiences to understand what you have learned can be empowering. Identify the lessons and insights gained from these experiences and how they have contributed to your growth. This perspective can help you appreciate the past while not being bound by it.

Forgive Yourself And Others

Forgiveness is a powerful tool for letting go. Forgiving yourself for past mistakes and forgiving others who have wronged you can release the emotional hold these experiences have on you. Forgiveness does not mean condoning harmful behaviour but rather freeing yourself from the burden of resentment and anger.

Jesus statue with the words forgive me father

Create A New Narrative

Reframe your past experiences by creating a new narrative that focuses on your resilience and growth. Instead of viewing yourself as a victim of past circumstances, see yourself as a survivor and a thriver who has overcome challenges.

Practice Mindfulness And Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation can help you stay grounded in the present moment. These practices can reduce rumination and increase your awareness of how past experiences influence your thoughts and emotions. Over time, mindfulness can help you let go of attachments to the past.

Set Boundaries And Take Control

Establishing boundaries with people or situations that trigger negative memories can help you take control of your emotional well-being. This might involve distancing yourself from toxic relationships or making changes in your environment that support your mental health.

Seek Professional Support

If letting go of the past feels overwhelming, seeking professional support can be beneficial. A therapist or counsellor can provide guidance, coping strategies, and a safe space to explore your feelings. Therapy can help you work through unresolved issues and develop a plan for moving forward.

cartoon of a women talking about her issues

Engage In Physical Activity

Physical activity can be a powerful way to release pent-up emotions and reduce stress. Exercise, whether it's running, yoga, or dancing, can help you process emotions and improve your overall mood.

Focus On Future Goals

Setting and working towards future goals can shift your focus away from the past and towards positive, forward-looking endeavours. Whether it's pursuing a new hobby, advancing your career, or building new relationships, having goals can provide a sense of purpose and direction.

Cultivate Gratitude

Practising gratitude can help you focus on the positive aspects of your life. Keeping a gratitude journal, where you regularly write down things you are thankful for, can shift your perspective and reduce the impact of past negative experiences.

letting go of past trauma takes time, kindness to yourself, and steady effort. Using simple strategies like mindfulness, talking to a therapist, and leaning on supportive friends and family can help you slowly break free from the grip of past hurts. Healing isn't always straightforward, but each small step you take is a big win on your path to feeling better and stronger.


The Mental And Emotional Benefits Of Letting Go

Letting go of the past can bring numerous benefits to your mental health and overall well-being. Here are some of the positive outcomes you can expect: (Maldonado, 2022).

Improved Mental Health

Letting go of past pain can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can free your mind from constant worry and negative thinking, allowing you to experience greater emotional balance and peace.

Enhanced Relationships

Moving on from past grievances can improve your current relationships. You'll be more present and open, fostering deeper and more meaningful connections with others.

Increased Self-Confidence

Releasing the hold of past mistakes can boost your self-esteem and confidence. You'll be more willing to take risks and pursue new opportunities without the fear of past failures holding you back.

Greater Emotional Freedom

Letting go provides emotional freedom and allows you to live more fully in the present. You'll be less weighed down by past regrets and more able to embrace the joys and challenges of life with a clear mind and open heart.

Personal Growth And Development

By learning from the past and moving forward, you'll experience personal growth and development. Each step you take towards letting go is a step towards becoming a more resilient, compassionate, and empowered individual.

Knowing when to move on from the past is super important for finding emotional freedom. It's all about being aware of yourself, committing to growing, and being open to change. By learning from the past and deciding to move forward, we can open ourselves up to new opportunities. Letting go isn't about forgetting; it's about making peace with our history and finding strength in it.


Final Thoughts

Therapy By Robert's Final Thoughts

Writing this blog I'm reminded that there is always hope for the future and that our pasts do not define us. I know what it is to struggle in life and I know how difficult or near damn impossible it can be to move forward but with the right guidance and people around us I genuinely believe what sometimes looks like the impossible is actually very possible..... and if this can help anyone then it's a job well done.

Take Care x


More More More

The Forgiveness Project shares stories of forgiveness to build hope, empathy and understanding.

Verywell Mind Talk about How to Let Go of the Past and Embrace Your Future

Holding On And Letting Go is a charity that offers support and guidance to young people dealing with bereavement





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               Why Listen To Me?
(The short answer is I don't know)

You know, if you had asked me a decade ago where life was taking me, I wouldn't have had a clue. Back then, I was right in the middle of a rough patch—a mental health breakdown that seemed to be wrecking every part of my life.

But hey, fast forward to now, as I'm edging into my early forties, things have done a complete 180. What used to be a mess of struggles has turned into a journey of finding peace, purpose, and meaning in my mental health recovery.

These days, you'll find me in Manchester, living and working, using the chaos of my past to help others untangle their minds. If that sounds like something you're into, well, maybe this blog could be just what you're looking for. Come along as I share stories, insights, and lessons learned on the rollercoaster ride from rock bottom to resilience.

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