Stuck in the Past Solutions

Posted on November 12, 2010

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If my post on being Stuck in the Past resonated with you and you have honestly answered the question posed in that post, you are ready to get Un-Stuck.

Look at the answer you wrote down on why are you choosing to stay stuck in the past. What are you afraid to face about the present?

Your answer probably fits into one of the categories below. Find the appropriate category, be brave enough to take the steps listed and watch your stuck-in-the-pastness dissolve. If your don’t think your answer fits into any of these categories, write a comment or send me an email explaining your answer and I will try to address it in my next post.

1. If you are avoiding feeling a feeling:

Perhaps you’re stuck in the past because you haven’t been ready to grieve a loss or to feel your anger. Maybe you don’t want to face feeling guilt or shame. Technically, all issues related to being stuck in the past fall into this category so even if you try the steps in another category, come back to this one if you can identify the feeling you’re afraid to feel.

a. Step One: Figure out the feeling you’ve been avoiding. Some common feelings we often avoid include: fear, shame, guilt, embarrassment, anger and sadness.

b. Step Two: Feel the feeling. Sometimes just admitting we’ve been avoiding a feeling gives us the space we need to really feel it. Other times, we have to make a safe place for us to process through the feeling. If you notice yourself resisting a feeling, give yourself a place and time to work on it. Some people choose to listen to music to feel the feeling, others watch movies, others journal. Pick something that feels right for you.

2. If you are avoiding taking responsibility:

If you find yourself blaming someone else 100% for a bad relationship, that means you’re not taking accountability for your part inside of that relationship. Maybe you chose to ignore some red flags, or maybe you stayed around long after you knew that the person was not right for you. Or maybe it’s something completely different. Maybe you did something unfair to someone else and you’re stuck in the past because you believe you need to keep beating yourself up for what you did.

a) Step One: Own up. Admit the mistakes you made to yourself or to others. If you believe you were unfair to someone else, apologize for your actions.

b.) Step Two: Forgive Yourself. Stop rehashing the past as a form of self-punishment. Forgive yourself.

c.) Step Three: Acknowledge your newfound wisdom. Write down the lessons you learned from this experience. If you’ve approached this exercise in a mature and honest way, you’ve probably gained some wisdom that you can take with you into your future relationships. This experience taught you something valuable. Acknowledge what you learned so that you can make better choices in the future.

3. If you are avoiding an uncomfortable truth:

The person you worshiped like a god turned out to be human after all and now you see your reluctance to accept his/her imperfections. Or maybe you realize that your low self-esteem has led you to settle for more crappy relationships than you’d like to admit. Whatever your truth may be, realizing it feels really uncomfortable.

a) Step One: Admit this uncomfortable truth to yourself or to a trusted friend or advisor. There are few things in life as clearing as confessing the uncomfortable truths we’ve learned about ourselves. Saying it out loud is a simple, and very profound, way to release the past.

b) Step Two: Forgive yourself. You now realize the error of your original perception. If you look closely, you’ll see a very innocent person beneath that erroneous perception. Forgive yourself so that you can let the past go.

c.) Step Three: Acknowledge your innocence and the wisdom you’ve gained. Write down the lessons you learned from this experience. Look at the innocent misunderstandings you used to carry with you. This experience taught you something valuable. Acknowledge what you learned so that you can make better choices in the future.

4. If you are avoiding facing a negative belief:

He told you that you were a lousy kisser or that you weren’t as pretty as his other girlfriends. She said you were a loser who was going nowhere in life and said there something wrong with you. To this day, these mean things still sting, because a part of you is worried that the accusations are true.

a) Step One: Find the negative belief. What are you afraid might be true about you?¬†Beliefs have an awful hold on us until we discover and examine them. If you haven’t already done this, write down what you’re afraid might be true.

b. Step Two: Dissolve the belief. My favorite way to dissolve limiting beliefs in by using Byron Katie’s The Work. (See her website for information and resources on this).¬†There are other ways you can do this as well. In order to dissolve your negative belief, you need to find evidence that your original belief may not be true. When you dissolve your limiting beliefs, you’ll find a new way to break free from the past.

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Many wise people point out the the only moment we have is NOW. As Eckhart Tolle reminds us: Life is always NOW. Your entire life unfolds in this constant NOW. Even past moments only exist when you remember them and you do so by thinking about them in the only moment there is: This one.

To stay stuck in past robs us of all the beauty and possibility of the present. By being courageous enough to face your fears, by giving yourself permission to get unstuck, you will consciously walk into the amazing present.

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