Letting Go of Letting Go: Why the Past Feels Impossible to Release

The concept of “letting go” of the past is often presented as a simple solution to move forward. However, the reality can be far more complex. We grapple with the feeling of the past being impossible to relinquish, constantly pulled back by emotions, regrets, or the comfort of familiarity.

This struggle isn’t uncommon. Here’s why letting go can feel so challenging:

  • Unprocessed Emotions: Past experiences often trigger unresolved emotions like anger, sadness, or guilt. Ignoring or suppressing these feelings can lead to them resurfacing unexpectedly, hindering true “letting go.”
  • Fear of the Unknown: Letting go of the past can feel like stepping into uncharted territory. The comfort of familiar memories, even negative ones, can outweigh the perceived risk of venturing into the unknown future.
  • Self-blame and Regret: Dwelling on past mistakes can fuel a cycle of self-blame and regret. Feeling responsible for past events, even if outside your control, can make moving forward seem difficult.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) offers a framework to address these challenges:

  • Acceptance vs. Suppression: Instead of trying to force the past away, ACT emphasizes accepting its presence without judgment. This allows us to acknowledge our thoughts and feelings about the past without getting caught in their grip.
  • Defusing from Thoughts: Our minds often treat thoughts as absolute truths. ACT teaches defusion, recognizing thoughts as mental events, not dictates of reality. This empowers us to step back and observe our thoughts without being ruled by them.
  • Living in the Present: Focusing solely on the past or future robs us of the present moment. ACT promotes mindfulness, bringing our attention to the here and now through practices like meditation or focusing on our senses.

Letting go isn’t about erasing the past, but rather changing our relationship with it. Here’s how ACT’s principles can help:

  • Acknowledge and Accept Emotions: Allow yourself to feel your emotions related to the past without judgment. Journaling or talking to a therapist can be helpful in processing these emotions.
  • Focus on Values: Identify what truly matters to you in life. Living a life aligned with your values can provide direction and purpose, moving your focus beyond the past.
  • Commit to Action: Take steps towards your goals and values. Taking concrete action creates a sense of progress and fosters a future-oriented mindset.

Remember: Letting go is a gradual process. While ACT provides valuable tools, seeking professional help from a therapist trained in ACT can offer additional support and guidance.

Moving forward doesn’t mean forgetting the past, but rather learning from it and choosing to focus on creating a fulfilling present and future.

Ready to Embark on Your Journey to Recovery?

If you’re tired of struggling with Depression, Anxiety, and Low Self-Esteem, it’s time to take action. I invite you to schedule a consultation today to discuss how CBT Therapy can help you overcome these challenges and reclaim your wellbeing. 

Schedule your consultation today and take your first step towards a brighter and more fulfilling future.

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