Letting go of the past was perhaps one of the most difficult challenges I’ve had. The meaning of letting go of the past doesn’t mean that we must forget the past but only liberate it. I think that statement was difficult for me, because maybe I was afraid that letting go of my past would mean forgetting the people who were so precious to me. How can I let go of such formative events that have changed my life? Does letting go of the past mean I have to suppress or forget the memory of the trauma? In repressing the memory of trauma, am I perhaps also destroying some of the heroic memories of how my beloved ones coped with their life circumstances?
How did I let go of my past?
Everyone goes through challenges in life. Loss, serious illness, health challenge, life-threatening condition, murky relationships – challenges are a fact of life and may happen to all of us at some point of our life. Challenges may also evoke difficult emotions, which will engrave in our minds as traumas.
“Trauma” originated from the word “wound” in Greek in the 17th century. Mental trauma, “panic” or psychotrauma is the result of a crisis that is itself the result of strong, rapid and early stress. The development of trauma depends on the person’s personal interpretation and the resources available to him, so it is difficult to catalog what trauma is and what treatment is appropriate for it. The traumatic experience may be one-time or repetitive. The products of trauma can be adaptation, post-trauma or post-traumatic growth.
The good news is that there are endless ways to deal with trauma and secondary traumatization (in my case). One of the ways that have helped me release the past and start dealing with my trauma is first of all the understanding that there is a mental wound here that needs to be treated. Once I was open to the idea of treatment, I started looking and trying to figure out what are the best options for me.
Although I call it passive therapy, it’s not really passive. I mean conventional therapy on the psychologist’s couch. Still, I chose to call it “passive” because the feeling is one of getting a treatment. That is, lying on the psychologist’s couch gave me a feeling as if I was putting myself there, allowing my psychologist to lead me through the meaning-formation process to my experiences. I was a full partner in the treatment process, so it’s not really a passive treatment.
I don’t intend to explain here what psychological treatment is, because that is not the purpose of this article. Rather, I can only tell about some notable benefits of psychological treatment for me:
- Processing the Experience – After experiencing two losses, I felt the urge to understand what had happened to me. These were two huge traumas in such a short time that I had to get an answer to so many existential questions: What happened to me within these experiences? Who am I after what I’ve been through? How am I supposed to proceed from here? How should I let go of the past? The psychological treatment was not meant to provide an answer to all my questions, but rather just contemplating these questions was an important and vital step for me.
- Creating Meaning – Once I processed these formative experiences, I had to give meaning to everything I went through. I had to understand what kind of person I had become, and what tools for positive thinking I had gathered along the way.
- Emptying – Sharing the story of my life from every possible angle, time and time again has helped me to let go of the past in a way that I suddenly realized I didn’t have the need to share the story with every person I meet. Plus, going to that therapy once a week and sharing my feelings, provided me with the feeling of leaving all of my “emotional waste” there on the psychology’s couch. It stays there and I… move on. I don’t take all these heavy loads with me.
To be honest, the only thing I knew in the beginning was my inner understanding that I must help myself. I had no idea what I needed, or what would help me. The only thing I knew was that I was sure I wasn’t the only person in the world who had gone through difficult challenges. In fact, I was looking for sources of inspiration: I was looking for people who went through challenges in life and did something that helped them get on their feet; I was looking for people who had dealt with huge hurdles in life and got out of it somehow.
I started watching endless Ted talks, lectures for personal growth. All the lectures were based on the same concept, i.e., a person who has gone through some challenges in life used some method, overcame his challenge, and now he or she shares their tips with others who are facing similar experiences. Qi Gong, mindfulness, vegan nutrition, self-hypnosis, positive mantras, herbs, guided imagery, circular breathing, and more. All of these constitute only the tip of the iceberg in the alternative methods of treating a bruised body, a wounded mind, filled with negative thoughts.
Slowly I began to practice all of these methods. Bit by bit I started to understand what works for me, what’s not. I believe the search experience itself was the starting point of my mental healing. Focusing on the search for a cure for the mental wound I experienced, was a therapeutic experience per se. In other words, my active therapy began already at that moment of understanding that I needed therapy. The search is a proactive action that I myself have taken. I continue my self-active therapy in my daily learning, and in practicing different techniques for positive thinking. Believe me, the learning process never ends.
At this point, you’re probably asking yourself, “Well, so what worked for you? …” The answer is woven throughout the length and breadth of my blog. Here I share all the methods that have worked for me, and my feelings in the most exposed way I can. What I’m trying to imply here is that there is no one answer. To find the exact answer for yourself, you will have to search, make mistakes, change, correct, find and then keep searching again. This is the most amazing part of this whole tedious search process.
Throughout my personal learning process, it took me a long time to let go of my past. I realized how complex the statement “letting go of the past” is. I learned to understand what it means for me to let go of my past. In liberating the past there is a lot of dynamism, a lot of fluidity, a sense of distancing, and rapprochement.
I can’t stress this enough how letting go of the past doesn’t mean denying my experiences but fully accepting what I went through; Choosing how much room to give those memories within my mind, to which negative thoughts I don’t want to give too much attention. And especially to rewire the mind for a healthier coping with whatever comes to mind.
Hopefully, in this article, I’ve been able to introduce you to my personal world, and let you experience the process of liberation in its most amorphous way from my point of view.