Personal Development

7 Steps to Stop Living in the Past

Do you feel as though you are missing out on the joy of everyday life because you are too busy living in the past?

What if I told you that there is a way you can overcome those feelings of; sadness, guilt, shame, embarrassment, loss, or anything else you may be feeling.

How can you possibly overcome feelings from the past?

The past is the past, right?


I’m about to share with you 7 steps on how YOU can stop living in the past and move forward with your life.

1. Acknowledge your past thoughts

You can’t go back in time and change the past. But acknowledging your thoughts will help you to learn from the past and change how you respond to situations in the future.

There are two types of thoughts you may be having – positive or negative.

Let’s start with the positive.

If your past thoughts bring up feelings of happiness, satisfaction or fulfilment then you are remembering happy times in your life.

Happy memories can be good. As long as you are not reflecting on these memories because you feel that your life does not measure up to how it used to be.

Negative memories may bring up feelings of guilt, sadness, shame or embarrassment.

If you associate these feelings with your past then there is still an unresolved chapter/s in your life that you need to address.

2. Pinpoint the memories

It is important to pinpoint the exact memories that make you feel the way you do.

Keep a daily diary of your thoughts for a week or two and see what memories come up.

Only focus on the most significant memories that evoke strong emotions and affect you negatively in some way.

This includes positive memories that are affecting your life in a negative way; such as daydreaming about how great your life use to be.

Once you have pinpointed these memories ask yourself the following…

  • Why does that specific memory make me feel the emotion I’m feeling? (Focus on the facts not what you think or believe of yourself or others).
  • What can I learn from my past memory?

3. Don’t be a victim of the past

Whether you or someone else labelled you as being a victim in the past it is important to understand that you are no longer a victim.

You can’t change what has already happened but you do have full control over how you deal with the past situation in the present.

Staying in a victim mentality will only allow you to keep living in the past.

You cannot wait for anyone who may have wronged you to apologise.

Forgiving yourself and others will allow you to move forward with your life. Remember forgiving others is for your own self-healing.


If you have traumatic memories and are finding it extremely difficult to move forward it may be best to speak with a therapist who can help you overcome these memories.

4. Express yourself

To truly let go of the past you must be able to express your feelings in a healthy way.

If you have been holding onto these memories for quite some time this step can feel extremely liberating!

Ways you can express yourself include:

  • Talking to a therapist
  • Talking to a trusted friend
  • Writing an open letter to the person associated with the memory

Choose a method that will allow you to openly express your emotions in a healthy and non-judgmental way.

Once you have chosen your method of expression, allow yourself to feel what you are feeling and express your emotions freely.

After you have expressed yourself and worked through your emotions it’s time to let go of these feelings once and for all.

5. Move forward with your life

Great job! You have acknowledged your thoughts and feelings and expressed how you feel.

Now it’s time to accept that it’s already happened and move forward with your life. To let go of the past you may have to make some adjustments in your life. These adjustments may be difficult at first but can also be crucial in stopping you from reliving the past.

For example, you may have to let go of all the physical items in your home that remind you of the memory. You may also find it best to remove yourself from situations or people that can trigger the memory.

Whatever you believe will help you to let go of the past and move forward – do it and don’t look back!

Check out Jill Sherer Murray’s AMAZING speech about the power of letting go!

6. Focus on the present

Practising mindfulness is a great way to focus on the present moment. Focussing on your breathing and the task at hand will allow you to be truly present.

When you become present in the here and now without any thought to the past or future you’ll start enjoying life more.

If you are new to mindfulness and don’t know where to start – check out these free mindfulness apps:

Insight Timer

Smiling Mind

7. Reinvent yourself

Now that you are finally free from living in the past it’s time to….


Have you always wanted to move home, change your hair colour, travel, or just be more successful in life?

NOW is your chance!


It is perfectly healthy to think about the past from time to time. After all, we need to learn from our past mistakes so that history doesn’t repeat itself.

The danger is when you allow your past to haunt you. Don’t ever allow the past to suck the fun out of your life and negatively influence the way you behave.

The past no longer exists and every moment wasted living in the past is a moment you can never get back.

Control your thoughts and you’ll control your world!

Gabriela Amour

Hi there! I’m Gabriela, a personal development blogger, author, mum, and a firm believer that life is what you make it! Join me on this exciting journey of self-discovery and get inspired!

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