How to let go of the past and start living in the present moment

Not a single person thinks about how to let go of the past and start living in the present, since it is living past troubles, ignoring changes in the situation, as well as trying to return what is no longer relevant that kills real life and the possibility of change. A person who constantly replays past events is not completely in the present, cannot build new relationships - in fact, he is a ghost stuck in a timeless space. Then a feeling of emptiness of life arises, negative emotions accumulate, leading to depression. If this concerns relationships, then grievances and attempts to restore everything consume a huge amount of emotional-psychic formative and creative energy and ultimately paralyze the internal ability to move on, further reducing activity in the present, like a swamp, and as a result the person receives an illusory picture of vitality only in the past , essentially dead.

Any deep psychotherapeutic work begins not with changing the present, but with letting go of the past, living with grievances and traumas that bring too much influence, and only then begins living the moment now.

You can let go of the past and start living in the present for the sake of the other and your reputation (don’t call and pester), come to terms with the situation, but also to stop wasting energy resources on constant reflection on what’s gone and unimportant, but instead give a chance and real opportunities to realize the new . This is similar to regularly cleaning your apartment and getting rid of broken and unnecessary things that clog up space and lead to loss of health.

Why can't we let go of the past

Someone, having experienced a strong shock, pulls himself together, recovers and moves on with his life. And some, even after the unsuccessful end of a relationship that lasted only 2 months, become fixated on negative thoughts and experiences, delve into themselves and endlessly remember the past.

So why is it so difficult for us to let go? I will list the main reasons.

  1. We regret what we once did, we blame ourselves for the mistakes of the past. Constantly replaying what has already happened in our heads, we continue to think about what we could have done differently. Then everything wouldn't have turned out so bad.
  2. Past grievances are so deeply ingrained in our hearts that in our thoughts we often return to those who hurt us and acted unfairly. We are trying to understand why they treated us this way. We continue to condemn these people. We blame them for the fact that our lives did not work out.
  3. The happy moments we have experienced do not let us go. More precisely, we have clung to them with a death grip, because in the present nothing pleases us and there is nothing to be proud of. Immersing ourselves in these memories, we again feel happy for a short time. We become addicted to these memories. They, like a drug, take us far from the gloomy reality.

It's always nice to plunge into good memories and indulge in nostalgia. There is nothing wrong. The danger arises at the moment when a person becomes dependent on his past. He is so dissatisfied with himself, with his life, that he seeks to escape from reality in those times that have long passed. But living in the past means dying in the present.

A person stops developing as a person. He no longer strives for anything, does not set goals and does not try to achieve them. He's stuck. And this condition can last for several years. As examples, I will give women who buried themselves alive after the death of their lovers. Middle-aged men who were brilliant in their youth, but never achieved success in life.

Life passes by for such people. And if someone does manage to wake up, they feel the bitterness of disappointment for the years spent aimlessly. To avoid this in your life, you need to learn to let go of the past.

Could you have changed anything?

Alas, humanity has not yet invented a time machine. Everything that has sunk into oblivion cannot be returned or corrected. Therefore, change your attitude in your role in past failures. Perhaps you could change something. Perhaps you missed many opportunities that fate provided you with. However, in fact, you were not the master of the situation: you were influenced by other people and events, as well as the worldview of that time.

Understand that little depended on you. Even if this was not the case, a little self-deception will not hurt. After all, the past cannot be corrected.

What to do to let go of the past and move on

I really like the phrase from the cartoon “Kung Fu Panda”: ​​“The past is forgotten, the future is closed, the present is granted.” It contains the main idea about how to approach your life - to live in the present. Because only it exists at a given moment in time.

I offer you some advice from a psychologist that will help you break out of the captivity of memories.

Realize that the past no longer exists

This is difficult to do, but you need to understand that the past no longer exists. And you are no longer the same person you once were. Those people from your past don't exist either. They have changed. Now they are different people, even if you have known them since birth.

For example, one of my friends could not get rid of the memories of how she was teased and made fun of at school. Now she is already 30 years old. She's not afraid of teenagers. As soon as she realized that those children who bullied her were no longer there, because now they were completely different people, she got rid of unpleasant thoughts about the past.

By the way, I already wrote about how to get rid of negative thoughts.

Focus on the present

Listen to yourself - how you feel, what you want at the moment, what can please you. The practice of mindfulness helps to learn to live in the present. On the Internet you will find a large number of exercises for developing this quality.

One of my favorite exercises is to develop sound-based awareness. When you are in nature, close your eyes and listen carefully to what is happening around you. You will be surprised at how many unfamiliar sounds you will hear. Try to isolate each individual sound, determine its source and where it comes from. At this moment you live exactly here and now. And you realize it.

Also, start your day not with memories, but with gratitude. When you wake up in the morning, thank fate for what you have. For the people you love next to you. For the opportunity to enjoy this wonderful world.

Of course, not everything in the present is smooth and rosy, but this is not a reason to hide from difficulties in the past. Focus on the current problems and how you will solve them. Every obstacle you overcome with dignity will make you proud of yourself in the present.

Forgive all grievances

You can blame anyone for living this way and not otherwise - your parents, girlfriend, classmates, ex-husband, boss. This will not change anything, except that you are depriving yourself of the opportunity to enjoy life. The past cannot be changed. People who once offended you actually live only in your memory.

In fact, they have already changed and may have realized that they hurt you. Try to forgive them with all your heart. Most likely, it won't work the first time. To learn to sincerely forgive, you need to love yourself and understand that the resentment living in your heart poisons your life. Do you need it?

No regrets

Never blame yourself for the past. Is it worth regretting missed opportunities, broken relationships, wasted time? No. Because it won't change anything. In your past, you lived and acted as best you could, based on the current situation, accumulated experience and knowledge.

Regret is a destructive emotion. It’s better to think that you have become more experienced, wiser and will do everything to prevent this from happening again. After all, without this past there would be no present. Tell yourself “from the past” words of support that you so lacked then. Show your then self love and understanding. And be sure to read my article about what to do when you feel bad.

Forget everything bad

Getting rid of old emotional traumas and wounds is difficult. But it is possible. In advanced cases, you cannot do without the help of a psychotherapist. As an independent practice, I really like to burn difficult memories. This is one of the simplest but most effective ways to help you forget all the bad things.

Get yourself a special notebook. For a week or two, write down your negative memories. Everything bad that ever happened to you. Describe how you felt then, what hurtful words they said to you.

And then burn this notebook to the ground somewhere in the forest. Watch carefully as the fire destroys the paper, and with it your painful memories. Feel yourself freeing yourself from a heavy load of negativity and resentment.

Thank the past for wisdom

No matter how difficult your past was, thanks to it you have become stronger and wiser. If a traumatic situation from the past does not let you go, write on a separate sheet of paper what exactly this story taught you. How your life changed after what happened, what did you understand, realize, and what important conclusions did you draw?

Let what you write remain in the present. These will be your pearls of wisdom. And forget all other memories. Leave it deep at the bottom of the subconscious, like river silt. You have removed the most important things from the past.

Don't abuse nostalgia

When going through difficult times, we begin to feel nostalgic about a happy past. For example, if you had a serious quarrel with your significant other, then memories of pleasant moments together will warm you up and help you overcome the crisis that has arisen. And looking at photos taken during past trips will give you energy for your next vacation.

Remembering our cheerful youth, bright youth, first love, stormy college years, it seems to us that this will never happen again. And it really won't happen again. No event can be repeated twice with exactly the same accuracy.

But by cherishing our warm past, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to be happy in the present. We do not notice new opportunities, new acquaintances, new offers. We miss important moments happening right now.

Think about why you indulge in nostalgia so often. Perhaps this is what you are missing at the moment. Do you remember a trip with friends? Organize a new one. It may well outshine the previous one. Do you miss the romance in your relationship? Discuss your experiences with your partner. Surely he will listen and organize an unforgettable evening for you.

Get down to business

If you are constantly thinking about the past, then you have too much free time. Find yourself an interesting activity, job, passion, hobby. They will consume you so much that you will no longer have the strength or desire to plunge into memories.

Through fun, active activities, you will live in the present and stop thinking about the past.

End the relationship

Many of us idealize the past. We remember former classmates, classmates, old friends who have been living in another city or even country for a long time. These memories are very touching and heartwarming. Some of us mentally talk to these people as if nothing has changed over the years.

The feeling of tenderness and joy that arises when we remember friends from the past pushes us to look for them in real life. And so we find an old friend on a social network and arrange a meeting. We arrive and see in front of us an absolutely alien and seemingly complete stranger. It is in no way similar to the image that lives in our memory.

A few minutes after the start of a sluggish conversation, it becomes clear that you are no longer interested in him, nor are you interested in him. But this experience is useful in that you have ended an unfinished relationship. Now you will not be tormented by illusions. You can safely cross this person out of your life and begin to appreciate more deeply those people who are now nearby.

Recognize and accept that there is a problem

The first step to getting rid of the past is recognizing the problem. You must admit to yourself that you are confused in your memories, that you are stuck in days gone by, that this is what prevents you from enjoying life and moving forward. It is important to slam your fist on the table and say to yourself: “Stop!” This will be an impetus for getting rid of old loads and the beginning of a new cloudless life.

When should you consult a psychotherapist?

In most cases, you can cope with dependence on the past on your own. However, there are situations when you cannot do without the help of a specialist. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe reaction that occurs due to traumatic events.

This is not a character trait at all, but a painful condition that torments a person. Only a doctor can diagnose it. PTSD requires professional treatment. For a person with this disorder, terrible memories from the past arise involuntarily. They force him to relive those terrible events.

PTSD is also called military syndrome because it is common among combat veterans. The disorder can also occur as a result of:

  • death of a loved one;
  • car accidents;
  • plane crashes;
  • rape;
  • physical and emotional bullying;
  • poverty and hunger.

Moreover, this disorder can occur not only in someone who has experienced terrible moments, but also in someone who simply saw it all with his own eyes. The main symptoms of PTSD are:

  • intrusive unpleasant memories;
  • isolation;
  • detachment;
  • difficulties in communicating with people and building close relationships;
  • causeless anger;
  • restless sleep.

If you notice such symptoms in yourself, seek help from a psychotherapist. It will help you leave painful memories in the past and start living a calm and fulfilling life again.

Finally, I recommend watching a short video that will motivate you to let go of the past.

Throw out negative emotions

What has been accumulated inside for years needs to be thrown out. Everyone does it differently. Many women choose to cry out their pain. There is no need to be shy about shedding tears over events that are long past. Allow yourself to cry as long as necessary to feel liberated.

You can also go to the gym and beat a punching bag/break unnecessary plates/scream out your emotions.

Learn to appreciate the present

If you are tired of despondency, you need to figure out how to get rid of the past and live in the present. After all, what is life? This is what is happening, what you look like, what you feel right now. If you constantly dwell on the past, you miss out on unique moments that are gone forever. Very soon they will also become a past for you, for which you will begin to blame yourself.

To stop the past from dominating your life, block it with thoughts about the present. Think more about how you look now, how you feel now, how comfortable you are now, what you would like now. Surprisingly, such thoughts release internal energy and charge a person with joyful thoughts.

Get rid of excess

A surefire way to get rid of past connections and events is to clear your personal space of everything that reminds you of old times. Hoarding is human nature. Photos, souvenirs, clothes, interior items, dishes - every thing in your home probably has some memories associated with it. And they are not always pleasant.

Set a goal to complete a complete audit of everything stored in your home within a month. Looking at each thing, listen to your inner feelings and the voice of memory. If there is negativity, feel free to get rid of this item (throw it away, give it away, sell it). Gradually surround yourself with new “clean” things that will gradually be filled with positive meaning.


Meditation is one of the most effective ways to get rid of your past life. It's simple, accessible, and doesn't require any special skills. The main thing is to devote at least a few minutes to meditation every day. This is done as follows:

  • Choose a quiet and peaceful place where you will feel comfortable and where no one will disturb you.
  • Take a comfortable position. It is not necessary to sit in the lotus position like yoga. You can sit, lie, stand.
  • Close your eyes and try to completely relax.
  • Imagine that you are surrounded by endless and beautiful nature. But you have a heavy bag in your hands, which prevents you from running towards the world around you.
  • Mentally open the bag, revealing a pile of stones. Throw them out of the bag one by one, giving each stone some meaning - an event from the past.
  • When the stones “run out,” lie quietly for a few more minutes, then take a refreshing shower to wash away any remaining negativity.


A more difficult option is rethinking. Any negative situation always brings positive consequences. The world is harmonious, therefore, when it takes something, it gives more or better in return. If you lose your job, it means you’ll find a better one, or you can even start working for yourself and earn a lot more. In addition, you will have the opportunity to travel around the world, and eventually get some sleep and relaxation. To understand what has been acquired to replace what was lost, you need to take a pen and a piece of paper, and then describe in detail all the positive aspects of your current situation.

Perform an emotional reset

In the process of searching for means and ways to get rid of jealousy of the past, a person tries to be calm and balanced. But this is not always the right approach. Negative emotions need to be released to make room for new positive thoughts and feelings.

This can be done in a variety of ways. You can scream loudly, break a cup, tear a newspaper into small pieces, cry your heart out. In terms of emotional release, physical activity helps well, which also brings considerable benefits to the body in terms of health and aesthetics.

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