Heal Your Past and Live in the Present

Tackling pain requires courage. To move on, you need to stop living in the past and look at what really matters, the present. If you can be brave and heal yourself, you'll be able to go back to living your life.  
Heal Your Past and Live in the Present
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

It isn’t easy to heal the past and move forward. Wherever you go, your past usually goes with you. Indeed, your emotional baggage is integrated into every part of you. It absorbs itself into your thoughts and embeds itself in every limiting attitude, fear, and sleepless night. In fact, it’s impossible to forget all of your past experiences. However, you can learn to face them and not let them hurt you.

Goethe rightly said that a day is excessively long for those who don’t know how to use or appreciate it. This is truer when someone is experiencing a period of anguish or disappointment due to something that happened in the past. Because, at these times, it becomes extremely difficult to appreciate the present.

This is because your memory is obsessive. It seems to have an overwhelming desire to remind you of that one thing that hurt or disappointed you. Or the situation that came completely out of the blue and you just didn’t know how to cope with. Everyone’s felt like this at some time or another.

Some people manage to successfully overcome these situations. On the other hand, others just don’t know how to cope. In fact, they end up carrying an enormous burden around with them for a long time. Obviously, not everyone behaves the same way in the face of adversity. However, we can all give ourselves the opportunity to overcome the past and appreciate the present.

“There’s a fine balance between honoring the past and losing yourself in it.”

 -Eckhart Tolle-

Eyes, a clock and a van signifying how to heal your past.

How to heal your past

Healing your past means different things to different people, as there are infinite forms of trauma.

Some suffering might start from a specific event. Like the death of a relative, for example. At other times, it might be due to continued stress, like living in a troubled neighborhood, working in a stressful environment, or being bullied at school.

Whatever the cause, it’s essential to heal your past if you want to have a more worthwhile and fulfilling present. Studies conducted at New York Medical University by Dr. Marylene Coitre suggest that, if you’ve suffered a traumatic event in the past and haven’t dealt with it, your post-traumatic stress will increase. This puts you at risk of new adverse events, such as emotional breakdowns.

  Here are some basic keys that will help you heal the past.

Talk about the past, but only with the right people

It’s often said that that, to overcome your pain, you have to get it out in the open. You have to talk about it and vent your feelings.

  • You must understand that not everyone you talk to will understand your experiences. In fact, sometimes, sharing with the wrong people can make you feel worse. Therefore, you need to know who to talk to.
  • Of course, you can always talk to professionals. Psychologists are trained to understand you and give you concrete, valuable advice that can help you change.
  • It’s also useful to talk to people who might have been through the same experience. This way, you don’t feel so alone, knowing that others have gone through the same thing and managed to overcome it.

Redefine yourself and stop being a victim

Whenever there’s an abusive relationship, there’s always an aggressor and a victim. For example, a bullied child, a mobbed worker, or people who suffer a natural disaster and lose everything they have. These victims always have two options:

  • The first is to assume that position for life. However, not reacting and staying stuck in your suffering will never help you heal the past. Therefore, you mustn’t become a perpetual victim.
  • The second option is to take an active stance. Become resilient, accept what happened and that you’ve suffered, but move forward. This way, you’ll become stronger and able to face both the present and the future.
  • At the same time, remember that hate doesn’t help. Holding an eternal grudge and asking “Why me?” imprisons you. Clean up those emotions and free yourself from the most harmful ones. Then, you’ll open yourself to true healing.
A kite with a heart shaped hole in it.

Turn off your anxiety switch to heal your past

Post-traumatic stress often leads to anxiety disorders. In fact, trauma often causes panic attacks. In these kinds of situations, you lose control. To heal the past, you have to manage this anxiety. Because this is what takes you back to the past, immobilizes you, gives you sleepless nights, exhaustion, and headaches. The list goes on!

In these cases, learning breathing, relaxation, and stress and anxiety management techniques can help. Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance if you think you need it. Don Ramón Gómez de la Serna said, “All the mirrors of the past flow by, drowned in a river”. Indeed, yesterday no longer exists. It’s been carried away by the current of life. However, if you can still see reflections of certain aspects of your past that hurt you, stop looking at them.

Your opportunities lie in the present. Your true commitment to yourself is in the here and now. Don’t waste it. Heal your past.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Cloitre, M., Stolbach, BC, Herman, JL, Van Der Kolk, B., Pynoos, R., Wang, J., y Petkova, E. (2009). Un enfoque de desarrollo para el trastorno de estrés postraumático complejo: traumas acumulativos en la infancia y en adultos como predictores de la complejidad de los síntomas. En Journal of Traumatic Stress (Vol. 22, pp. 399–408). https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.20444

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.