A new year is under way and starting over may well be on your mind. You need a guide to leaving the past behind and making way for better things to develop. But if you really hope to make those positive changes stick you need more than just good intentions. Be clear about what has to go, and make a plan.
Possibly you’ve been hurt and you dream of all that heavy stuff being a thing of the past. Loss, heartbreak, disappointment – wouldn’t it be nice to leave them behind and walk into the sunshine! But something is holding you back and starting over is just a dream:
• HANGING ON. Ask yourself if you’re subconsciously hanging on to the unwanted, negative emotions for reasons that you’ve not recognised. For instance, if you’ve lost someone, it may feel as if grief is all you have left of them and deep down you may be afraid if you let it go, you will be finally letting go of them. The truth is when you do let go, you will feel a stronger, positive connection
• ANGER. Anger can also keep you attached to the past. ‘Why should they get away with it?’ you may say to yourself about someone who has wronged you. However your anger hurts no-one but you. Do you deserve to suffer any more? No! So do yourself a favour and let it go
• LONGING AND FANTASY. Emotional pain comes from longing for things you can’t have. But you can only ever believe you want something. You can’t know whether it is right for you or will truly make you happy until you have experienced it – and then you may find out it wasn’t right for you at all. Even an actual relationship that seemed good could not have been what it appeared, or it wouldn’t have ended. It can be hard to see this at first, when you are overwhelmed with longing for what might have been. But leaving the past behind requires you to wake up, and stop tormenting yourself about a fantasy
• NEGATIVE SELF-TALK. If you’re sad and bereft it’s all too easy to get into the habit of repeating negative remarks to yourself. These could be ‘I’ll always be lonely/miserable/unlucky, or worse they could be self critical, on the lines of ‘I’m rubbish at relationships/I’m unlovable/a failure etc. If you do that often enough you talk yourself into believing not only that you’ll never feel better but even that you don’t deserve to feel better
If you are determined to leave the past behind, you can do it.
• KNOW YOURSELF. Do any of the issues listed above apply to you? Or are there other factors at work? Okay, maybe bad things happened, but you must take responsibility for how they are affecting you. Get to know yourself, because the only thing any one of us can ever change is ourselves – but that changes everything
• LET GO OF THOSE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS. Easy to say, but letting go of thoughts doesn’t mean you suppress them, or argue with yourself, or pretend they aren’t there. It means you notice them and let them be, realising there is a part of you that is far deeper, connecting to that eternal peace that lies within
• NOTICE NEGATIVE SELF-TALK WITH A SMILE. When you catch yourself making those unhelpful internal remarks, forgive yourself, remembering that’s just one small, pessimistic part of you. There are other, better ways of looking at life
• DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. It’s hard to leave the past behind when you’re surrounded by reminders, when each day you do things that reinforce the loss and negativity. But you’re starting over, so plain old same old is in the trash. Change your routine, visit different places, be with different people. Give your subconscious mind the belief that change is taking place by showing it new things
• THROW YOURSELF INTO SOMETHING INTERESTING. Okay, so things haven’t been great but there will still be something that you’re passionate about that’s available to you. Get involved, even if you don’t truly feel like it. Soon you may be so absorbed you forget yourself and before you know it you actually are leaving the past behind
• CHANGE YOUR LOOK. A makeover, different hair colour, different clothes are wonderful reinforcements for positive change
• CHOOSE COMPANIONS WHO SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGE YOU. When starting over you need helpful, positive people around you. Stick with people who encourage you, make you laugh and see the best in yourself
• DON’T BE AFRAID TO FAIL. Maybe things went wrong, and maybe they will again. That’s life. All successful, happy, fulfilled people have failed, many times. You may seem to take one step forward and two steps back – but that won’t last. Take a deep breath and go forwards again
• BE PATIENT. The deeper the loss, the more radical the change, the longer it will take for it to become established. Never despair, give it time
YOU’RE GETTING THERE
In this article we’ve looked at difficult emotional issues around starting over, and given plenty of tips on opening the door to a better future. Now it’s up to you. You can and will leave the past behind. Tomorrow starts here!
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PUBLISHED: 7 January 2016