How to let go of the past

Photo by cottonbro on

Is it really possible to let go of the past? What does it mean to let go of it?

I think the first question to ask ourselves is, where is the past? The past is everywhere. It is in our minds, it is in the language we speak, in our senses, the smells that trigger us, the colours of our childhood, the sounds and the silences.

The past resides in your body. The scars on your feet from tight shoes, the one on your left leg from that car accident, the multiple scars on your knees from falling due to flat feet. Or the one on the forearm from hot silicone while doing handcrafts in school, the scratch made by a friend’s dog that jumped at you, the nose and ear piercings, the callus on your finger from holding on too tightly to pens. They all tell some stories from the past, and they are there for you to see, everyday.

The past is in the shape of your body. Your grandmother’s legs, your mother’s complexion, your father’s nose. Those are the roots of you, and those cannot be cut, they cannot be obliterated.

We are steeped in our past, we are constructed out of it.

The past is also our personal history. Our memories, the songs we know, the harsh words, the rejection, the hope, the love. The things we have seen, how we have interpreted them, the wounds and how we healed from them.

The past is the world we have been immersed in. The old pets, the seed we planted at school, the walls of your grandmother’s house, your dying grandmother in her bed.

You can’t let go of the past.

So, why do we want to let go of the past? Remembering it can leave us feeling soaked in melancholy and the realisation that we have lost so much throughout our lives. Some of us try to keep some things alive even though they are long gone. Keeping them with us might mean we are still young, that we did not make that mistake, that there is still hope.

The feeling of loss might mean that the past was good, or that at least that’s how we perceive it to be from where we’re standing now. But sometimes the past is a terrible nightmare we cannot wake up from soon enough. Sometimes it haunts us every day, in the form of those horrible scars on our body or souls. It haunts us with words, at times with our own words that we direct at ourselves, like whips that flay us. The past haunts us when somebody, sometimes a person we don’t even know, pushes one of our buttons.

You can’t let go of the past.

What you can do is to draw strength, courage and inspiration from it. If your past is something you wan to preserve, if your memories are something to reckon and honour, you can create art from them, you use them as the basis for your future life. Find the way to immortalise them

If your past hurt you, if your past almost destroyed you, your soul, you energy, your life spark, it is ok to want a different life. It is ok to want to reconstruct yourself. Your past is there, and it is a part of you. But it is from this past from which you will draw your resilience, your compassion, your tenderness, your drive, your lust for life.

Don’t get stuck on the past. Your life is in the present, what you are seeing in this moment, the music you listen to, the people you love right now, your laughter, the beauty around you, even the fresh tears from today.

Construct your present from what you are today. Wear your scars like medals, with love, and with pride. This is you, but also YOU ARE WHAT YOU DECIDE TO MAKE OF YOURSELF RIGHT NOW. Make the present that will be your future, the life that you want to live. Now.


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