So, you’ve been in a toxic relationship and you’re struggling to let go of what you lost – whether it’s that you’re missing your ex, or you’re angry about all the years you spent with them, you may find yourself in some pretty serious emotional pain. I’m not going to lie to you: letting go of the past is freaking HARD – but it’s SO worth the trouble. If you keep living in the past, you’ll never be able to move forward and start your amazing new life. I know it sounds cliche, but you really should consider doing what you can to heal, let go of the pain from your past and start moving forward. I promise you will not regret it. Here’s a fact: A peaceful and meaningful life is easier if you’re able to leave the past in the past.
Try these strategies to leave your past behind you and get on with the business of living:
- Remember: your past only exists within you. Everything happens in the present, so the solution to your challenges is in the present. Everything you can control is happening right now. The past only exists because you allow it to.
- Avoid ruminating over the past. What do you think you accomplish by replaying negative events in your head? Do you think something positive will happen the 500th time that didn’t happen the previous 499? Rehashing stuff and reliving the bad times will only bring negative consequences. It ruins your mood and leads to more rumination. Reliving negative events can lead to shame, depression, and anxiety.
- Accept the past. You can’t change it and it’s already happened. You don’t have a lot of choices here. Stuff happens. Sometimes life stinks. Focus your attention on the present.
- Forgive (or, rather, release your need to be angry at) the narcissist. Forgiving them doesn’t mean you have to let them back into your life. It does mean that you’re ready to focus on something else in your life. When you forgive, you give yourself the emotional freedom to not feel bad about the incident anymore. You might need to forgive yourself, too. We all make mistakes, so give yourself a break. Learn from your mistakes and move on.
- Treat yourself well. Ensure that you’re eating well, getting enough sleep, and spending time with people you enjoy. What hobbies would you like to explore? Make yourself a priority. You’re worth it.
- Realize that you did the best you could. For that matter, the narcissist was limited in their ability to do any better than they did. And you probably did more for that person than you even should’ve done – and now, it’s YOUR TURN to be happy. Believe that and you’re free.
- Make exciting plans for the future. Give yourself something to look forward to. What do you want to do and accomplish in the next 5 or 10 years? What do you want to accomplish next month?
- Do something fun. One way to overcome negative memories is to create some new ones. Do something fun with people you enjoy. Focus on making new memories to help you let go of the old.
- Control what you can. Much of the reason for reliving the past comes from wanting to control the uncontrollable. Rather than longing to do the impossible, focus on what you can control. Control what you’re able to control and let go of the rest.
- Realize the control you’re giving to your past. When we relive past pain, we develop defense mechanisms to protect us from future pain. The pain from the past creates fear. That fear of the past creates fear of the future. The key to a peaceful future is releasing yourself from the past.
How much is your past affecting your present and future? Will you allow this to continue?
Everyone’s past is checkered with failure and uncomfortable memories. You can choose to allow the past to define and limit you, or you can choose to leave it behind. My suggestion? Learn from your past and then move on. Let go of the narcissist and forgive yourself. There’s plenty of life left to be lived.
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.