As we all grow older, we all tend to accumulate baggage from past events, whether intentional or not. No matter how hard you try to let things roll off your back, that baggage is always there in one form or another.
Or at least that’s the way I look at it.
Everything that happens to us through life affects us in one way or another, and personally I think it’s detrimental not to accept that and figure out the effect it will have on your life going forward.
I recently read an article on Purpose Fairy where the author recounts a very personal story regarding her family and her father’s affair with a neighbour, and how that affected her life and relationships with the men in her life as an adult.
Her story is very touching and introspective, but it’s not about the story itself. It’s more about how we can try to get past or deal with the baggage of our past in order to move forward with our lives. She outlines the below 5 steps to let go of your past for a better future, and regardless of what your situation is, the process can be beneficial for pretty much anyone.
1. Tell your story to yourself
This is the first, and probably hardest, step to letting go of events in your past. This is all about being critical and truly honest with yourself. There’s no point lying to yourself about how past events occurred or even your involvement/responsibility for them happening in the first place. If you do then you’ll never truly be able to move past that past event that is potentially stopping you from moving forward with your live.
2. Share your story with your loved ones and your close friends
Once you’ve been truly honest with yourself about that past baggage then it can be very therapeutic to discuss it with someone close to you that won’t judge you, but will only be there to listen to you and possibly give you some good advise without trying to tell you how to live your life.
This isn’t about finding sympathy, or about getting them to agree with your point of view, or even about them telling you were ‘right’, as that won’t help you. If you truly want to get past something then you need to discuss things with someone who will be just as honest about it all just like you were with yourself in the first step. If they’re truly your loved one, then they’ll still love you once you’ve shared your story.
However some people don’t have someone close to them that they feel they can tell the story to, which is where actual therapy or discussion groups can be helpful for some people. Not only does it allow you to share your story in a safe, secure environment, but it could potentially help you build a more reliable network of people to rely on for the future.
3. Get into details of your story on a paper
This is something I’ve found to be very therapeutic for me over the years. I remember many years ago back in Montreal when I was going through a particularly tough time and didn’t feel I had anyone around me I could talk to about it all, so I started writing in a journal. I’d attempted to start a journal several times in the past, but just felt I didn’t have anything to say about my life at the time.
But this time was different, and the journal and the actual act of writing quickly became an integral part of my life itself, and became my own therapy… and in fact if it wasn’t for starting that journal all those years ago, this blog wouldn’t exist, because that journal awoke a desire to write from so deep down that I didn’t even know it was there to begin with.
However that’s not the point.. the whole point of writing out your story in excruciatingly honest and sometimes graphic details is it allows you to continue being honest with yourself and open yourself up to eventually releasing any kind of tension, regret, or what have you about the situation.. and like the original author wrote, it may leave you feeling empty afterwards, but this is another massive step to stop identifying with your own past.
4. Talk to those who were the reason for your wound
This is easily the hardest thing you can do, especially if there’s someone specific that has caused you to feel the way you do about yourself. And as liberating as this probably is, it has to be more about opening a conversation with the person(s) than about placing blame.
5. Share your story with the world through art
As the author writes:
When you’re telling your story, not only you are healing yourself, you also stop identifying yourself with it. The story becomes just a story and no longer a part of you. The magic starts when you realise that when sharing your story, the heavy traumatic wound of yours transforms into a lesson others can learn from. It becomes a gift you can give to the world.
This also isn’t always an easy step, especially when you’ve come to terms with people through step 4 as you don’t want to hurt their feelings by blatantly sharing the whole story with the world. I know that’s happened to me a few times over the years with my blog.
Now when I’m writing about an incident or whatnot, I try my best to keep certain events and people’s descriptions pretty vague, and when I can I fictionalise certain parts of the overall story. Because at this point it’s just that, a story. Sure, you’re getting things off your chest, but hopefully if you’ve told your story well it could potentially help someone else who’s gone through something similar.