How to stop living in the past

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

What living in the past can do to you

In my previous article Is there a way to instantly feel good i explained how your current mood results from the many past events you have been through in addition to some other factors.

This means that some bad past events are actually contributing directly to your current mood. When a person goes through a bad past event and lives in its consequences he gets trapped in the past.

In such a case that person only focuses on what he lost not on what he can do and as a result he remains stuck. This is called backward thinking and in another article i explained the reasons that make a person a backward thinker. See What causes backward thinking.

Now when you think in terms of what happened to you in the past you become trapped in the past simply because you eliminate any chance of future improvements.

Your mind can only focus fully on one thing at a time. If you kept dwelling on your past then you are very likely to find no energy to work for the future or to improve. So the first conclusion you should have reached is that the only way to make serious changes to your life is to look at the future.

How to stop living in the past

So how can a person stop living in the past?
The first thing you can do to stop living in the past is to understand that you have the choice of either dwelling on it or either trying to change what's going on.

No matter how bad your life is or how stuck you think you are there can always be a new start. But this kind of start can't happen while you are looking back. You need to forget about your previous failures, misfortunes, sad moments and work directly on changing the life you are living right now by considering the future possibilities.

This process requires a lot of energy and courage because you will have to do the following:

  • You will have to admit that you are responsible for your life
  • You will have to start working hard
  • You will have to deal with some guilt and self blame (for not moving anytime earlier)
  • You will have to admit that you are in control

In the Ultimate guide to becoming confident i said that such decisions require a lot of confidence for lack of confidence can motivate a person to create a lie and live in it just because he is too afraid to face reality.

Those few things require a lot of courage and personal strength. But the good news here is that as soon as you pass through this phase you will experience a strong amount of optimism that will result from the fact that you are now looking at the many future possibilities.

The decision to move is the hardest

We humans always like to take the easy path. Many of us prefer to keep thinking about the past simply because this thinking happens automatically and doesn't require any additional effort. We will usually try to avoid planning for the future or thinking forward just because this process involves a lot of effort.

The decision to start moving and to start making serious changes is thus the hardest part you need to get over. But there is an important question that you should ask yourself in such a situation.

How hard is it to do that compared to the difficulty of living in pain and grief?
And will the amount of effort you are going to do hurt you more than this pain you are currently living in?

Of course not. Moving forward thus is the right choice in such a case.
No matter how long you wait before you take actions you will end up one day finding that you have no other option but to do it.

So better do it now while you still have time than wait until you get stuck and find yourself forced to go through the same road.

Forget about all what's behind your back and think forward.

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