Two of my personal weaknesses (and major joy sealers) are living in the past and not letting things go. These two things are amplified because of my anxiety. I have to be very intentional and work extremely hard to not do both of these things. At the same time, I have to work hard to not wish for a past that was really good, and live disappointed that whatever is going on currently is not as good as it was. Yes, I know how beyond blessed I am in this life, but everyone has those memories that they wish they could relive. I feel that everyone, at some point, struggles with living in the past, over analyzing, and worrying over what has already happened and cannot be changed. Anxiety makes it very hard not to live in the past. Anxiety makes us more sensitive than the average person, more wishful of a good past when things get tough, and leaves us second guessing each decision, conversation, and event. Moving on and letting things go become extremely hard for us, because we have a hard time forgiving others and in general forgiving ourselves.
As an anxious person, I feel that it is harder for me- in comparison to the average person- to not look back and obsessive over past mistakes. Anxiety makes it hard for me to let go and not fixate on something that has been said or done to me. However, it does no one any good to dwell on my past and hold onto wrongdoings. Dwelling on my past and clinging to the wrongs done in my life will accomplish nothing but stealing the joy out of each moment today…for both myself and those around me. At the end of the day, I have had to learn to let go of the past. There is no reason to hold myself back by something I can’t go back and fix. I have had to learn and focus on the idea that if something is not changeable, it is not worth my time thinking about. This has helped me so much with my anxiety.
Of course I still struggle with not living in the past and letting go of things, however, I have worked hard to not ALWAYS over analyze, second guess, fret, worry, and stress over each situation and decision. Sometimes I feel like I have a full time job just trying to NOT do the above. Anxiety makes it a lot harder to move on, live in the moment, and find joy. However, that does not mean it is not possible to move on, live in the moment, and do so joyfully. Do not let your past hold you back from your future. The mistakes that you have made in the past, and the mistakes others have made that effected you are not things to be worried over. Why? Because worrying about it accomplishes nothing. On the same hand, if you are constantly looking to the good times in your past in comparison to your present, you are holding yourself back. Your present and future are not meant to look like your past, because the happy times coming are meant to be different.
It sounds so simple, to just let go and move on, but it is so hard.
It is hard because as an anxious person, I can find myself worrying incessantly over the many past events- all the way from the biggest most significant events and decisions to the smallest. My anxiety may present itself in many different ways, such as: Why did I snap at someone? I wish I could take it back. In the moment, I may worry that they may hate me now. Yes, realistically I know they probably don’t, but my anxiety makes me feel that way. Why did I say something that hurt someone else? I didn’t mean for them to take it way, and it was not my intention to hurt their feelings. However, I will worry over what I said because I didn’t mean to upset them, and I will feel terribly guilty for making them feel bad. No matter how many times I apologize (even if they accept my apology), I will still feel bad a year later if I let myself.
I may ask myself why someone said something bad about me, or to me. It really hurt my feelings, and part of me might begin to wonder if what they said was true, even when I know deep down it isn’t. I will second guess myself, because of someone else. If I don’t work hard, I can allow others’ words to measure my self-worth. Additionally, others’ decisions and actions may leave me wondering, what type of world we live in now that people are terrible and vicious towards each other. Why did someone intentionally emotionally, physically, and/or mentally hurt someone? They didn’t deserve what was done to them. What is wrong with people that they would do something intentionally to hurt others? Don’t people know that it is so much easier to build someone up than it is to tear someone down, so why do people chose wrong all the time? I might worry and wish I could have done something to help that person. I may go through the conversation or event a million times, reliving it in a hope to see if I could have done something differently that would have helped.
See what I mean with how daunting the past can become if you allow yourself to live in it? If I allow myself, I can spend all my time wishing for a different outcome for all the above mentioned circumstances. However, when I begin down the road of worrying I focus myself mentally. I can’t change a thing in the past. I remind myself that reliving the negative events and things that fall short of my expectations steals the chance I have right in front of me for happiness. Can I change the outcome of what I am worrying over? If the answer is no, then I make myself focus on something changeable instead. My worry and desire to change my past does not MAKE it change. If it is not something that can be changed. I know that I have to let it go and move on. I decided a long time ago that I would focus all my thoughts and all the time I would have spent on worrying over things that cannot be changed on the changeable.
I know that I can’t move forward without moving past my PAST.
So how do I move past my past and let go? Intensively and intentionally working on my perspective, priorities, and with daily forgiveness (for myself and others) and praying for peace. I challenge you to work hard on finding perspective. What does worrying over the past ACTUALLY do for you? Nothing. It is the past and it cannot be changed. It only leaves you sad, upset, frustrated, angry, etc. that what you or someone else decided to do or say cannot be changed. It leaves you wishing for something you can’t have.
You can’t ever get that time back you wasted. You can’t undo what has been done. You can’t go back and re-start your day. You can’t make different decisions for someone else. Going through situations over-and-over again and envisioning what you could have done differently will NOT change anything. It will just leave you even more upset and frustrated the longer you dwell on it. Instead of worrying I challenge you to ask yourself what moving on and forgiving yourself and others can do for you? The answer is, EVERYTHING! It can give you peace back. It can give you a repaired relationship, instead of a broken one. It can give you perspective, strength, and resilience. It can give you enthusiasm and joy in the present moments of today.
You have the power to let your past dictate who you are, or you can allow your TODAY to dictate who you will be. You give your past power when you allow yourself to stay stuck in it. Do not live in a way that will allow you to worry over each decision, event, person, etc. as it happens. I challenge you to choose different, and decide to let it go. Letting go, moving on, and forgiving others gives you EVERYTHING. Worrying over things that cannot be changed gives you NOTHING.
I challenge you to use each situation as a way to GROW yourself. Be stronger than the words and actions that others throw on you. Make decisions and stick by them. You are strong and intelligent, so don’t do yourself a disservice by second guessing what decisions you have made. If you decide after the fact that you would have made a different decision if you could have, then make that decision the next time. Move on. Focus on what a beautiful gift a brand new day is for you. You have been given a blank slate, so use it!
Overcome the worst experiences by learning how resilient you are. If something terrible happened to you, show the world how STRONG you are by surviving it -BY moving on! Show others how amazing you are by learning to forgive yourself and others for what has been done. Take responsibility for wrongdoings, and address (not ignore) your feelings. Choose to not look at only the bad around you, seek out the good. Learn, grow, and improve from your mistakes and the mistakes of others, so that you can LIVE fully TODAY.
I am still working hard on these two things, but I am committed to living LESS in the past. This week I challenge you to let go of the past, and stop reliving it. Anxiety coupled with stressing over your past can steal your peace of mind, joy, happiness, and your self-worth if you let it. Learn to let go of both the big and small things you wish you could have changed, and make a different decision next time. Remember no one is perfect, and each past experience gives us a gift of perspective and betterment- if we only choose to use it.
Until next week,
Hey all you awesome people reading my blog. I'm Ginger and this blog chronicles how I live my life fabulously with anxiety.