Throughout my life, I’ve discovered that I am not a person who forgets things easily. Well, actually, that’s not entirely true; I forget things like where I put my keys or my phone at the end of the day, but I can clearly remember the name of a girl who pulled my hair in the seventh grade. This can be a rather unfortunate quality to have, and as a result, I’ve had to learn the art of letting go and moving on from harmful, upsetting experiences in my past. This important life skill is something that all of us can use to progress through our lives in a meaningful way, learning from our experiences rather than suppressing and ignoring past hurts.
It’s definitely not an easy task moving on from something that hurt you. It can be big or small, a loss or a disappointment, or something deeply jarring that sticks with you and still causes you immense pain. In the aftermath of trauma, it can be incredibly difficult to know where to go next, and it can be especially tempting to push those feelings aside, to just try and move on from the hurt without actually addressing the issue. Moving on from the hurt that past events caused you becomes especially difficult when you forget an important, key part of the process, which is confronting the past head-on.
This may sound simple enough in writing, but sometimes it’s hard to not keep holding on to those past hurts, even though it’s painful. We hold on not because we want to, but because we fear experiencing the rawness of past hurts, or because we fear the pain that comes with reopening old wounds. This can result in a kind of numbness as you become accustomed to the pain you are feeling. However, this does not mean that the pain has disappeared; it simply means that we have lived with the pain for enough time that it becomes white noise, an incessant fog of discomfort that hangs over our minds. This is no way to live our lives! In order to thrive, we must look directly at our pain and confront it.
So, what does confronting the past look like? Well, confronting your past involves a conscious, dedicated decision to approach past hurts and begin to process them, rather than simply living with them. Acting in this way can be very empowering, as it reminds you that you have a choice in the matter. By making a conscious choice to confront your past, you are taking control of your pain, and no longer allowing it to have power over you. It is here where you begin the process of moving on.
An important thing to remember is that moving on does not mean forgetting or ignoring your past. When you make a conscious decision to confront your past, you’re acknowledging the existence of the hurt, which allows you to begin coping, instead of avoiding the impact it may have on your mental wellbeing. Here are some things to keep in mind while learning how to cope with your past.
- Communicating your feelings. Sometimes it can help to talk to a loved one about your struggles, and other times it’s helpful to visit a mental health professional who can aid you in understanding your feelings and give you support.
- Being mindful. This can include activities such as writing in a journal or meditating, which give you a private space to explore and learn about your feelings.
- Being kind to yourself. Remember to cut yourself some slack when things get tough. Overcoming past hurt is not an easy process; try not to get down on yourself when it gets difficult. Take your time and be kind to yourself!
It may seem appealing sometimes to eradicate pain from our lives, but this isn’t a realistic or achievable goal. After all, to be human means to experience hardships sometimes, because no one and nothing is perfect. Instead of trying to eradicate or ignore hurt, we should be making sure to do all we can to learn from hurt and overcome any lasting effect it may have on us. We can all cultivate and nurture our coping skills to become better at dealing with moving on from these hurts when they happen so that we can thrive!
About the Author: Mariah Jarvis is a freelance editor and writer. She has a degree in English literature from Saint Mary’s University and lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with her partner and their two cats.
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