Learn to Let Go Of Your Past (& Stop Playing The Victim While You’re At It)
Have you ever found yourself daydreaming, rehearsing something crappy or painful that had happened to you in the past? Do you ever notice that how, when left unchecked, our minds wander back to some of the worst times in our lives? We play these scenarios around and around in our head, and subsequently, we begin to feel the same emotions that we did, in that same moment.
Somewhere along the road of life, I developed a bad habit of rehearsing painful experiences, conversations, or interactions with people, over and over again in my head. I don’t know when I started to make this a habit, so I can’t say why it began. But as someone who recently realized that this played a significant role in her life (insert sad trombone moment here) it was dawned on me, how much I have let my past, shape who I am and what I think in my present/future.
This thought process is crucial for me to realize because:
A. Your painful past prevents you from moving forward and living your best life.
B. Living in the past causes you to experience depression
C. Unless you remember something kick-ass, like that day you rescued your fluffy puppy from the pound, the past does not serve you in way, shape or form
When you are choosing to live in the past, you are stunting your growth. Why? Living in your past pain makes you feel like a victim because you are rehearsing everything done to “ME.” When you live in a “me” state, you incidentally become too busy playing the victim card, to climb out of the self-pity well we created.
Today’s strategies will provide a lesson on learning to overcome the victimhood mentality to forgive both yourself and others for wrongdoings.
Are You Playing The Victim?
This subject is actually a really hard one to write about for me, because it took a long time for me to be willing to take a hard look at myself and realize that one of the biggest reasons why I was so depressed in life, was because I was playing the role of victim in my life. It’s not easy to see that, let alone admit it to the hundreds of people here.
But here’s the candid truth: I was playing the role of victim and as such, drowning myself in misery. It felt like I couldn’t stop rehearsing the past, and all of the wrongs that people had done to me.
Being a victim keeps your mind in the “me” stages. All you can honestly think about is yourself, which sounds harsh. But it’s the truth. It’s very similar to depression, and in fact, I think they often go hand in hand.
Playing the victim often feels empowering, because you are experiencing righteous anger.
Like the need for certainty, playing the victim of your own life, gives you a sense of control, because it allows you to fill a role, or an identity box, that you have built for yourself.
Pro Tip: this certainty brings you misery. And pain. And depression. And basically everything crappy. The world feels sadder than before. Your relationships all seem like they’re failing. Maybe everything in your life seems to be falling apart. And the worst part? You are doing this to yourself.
Yes, there it is: you are 100% responsible for this feeling. It is not your husband who makes you feel unappreciated or unloved. That’s on you, bae.
At first blush, this probably sucks to hear. You might even be calling out bullshit. That’s ok. That’s how I felt too when I first started to break apart this role of victim that I had been playing. It took someone else to point this out to me before I ever realized it. So I have to shout out to Jen Sincero. Her book “You Are A Badass” was such a fresh, cut-out-the-bullshit wakeup call for me. I’ve read it five times this year alone! Seriously tho, I love every word she’s ever written. She was THE PERSON who helped wake me up from the depression in my life!
How Do I Know If I’m Playing The Victim?
Simple. Are you always thinking of yourself? No. I don’t mean being selfish. I know that you are probably still helping your kids and cooking dinner and supporting your husband and doing well at work. But inside your head, are you always feeling like other people are not showing up in the world like you want (or expect them too?) Do you feel like others make your life harder? Or more painful? Or more miserable?
Answer these questions below. If any of them resonate with you, there’s a good chance that you have been dwelling more in your past pain, and playing the victim card:
- Do you continuously rehearse all of the wrongs that someone has done to you, and end up making yourself madder than you were, in the situation?
- Do you maybe even exaggerate these conversations with others, so that they are worse than they actually were?
- Do your thoughts churn like a cycle, so that you constantly think of the same things over and over again?
- Do you find that you’re grumpy by the end of the day? Or mad at others? Even if the day started off good?
- Do you blame others for misfortune? That ass cut me off in traffic, and that’s why I was late!… My husband didn’t communicate with me, and now I have to skip my yoga class to pick up the kids!
All of these habits are symptoms of playing the victim card. And if that’s you, it’s ok. At some point, we all do it. As I said, this has been one of my greatest life struggles. I am NOT one to easily let things go.
But we must learn to let go so that our past does not destroy our futures.
It is essential to let go of your past pain in order to forgive yourself. It’s easy to get down on yourself, especially if like me, you realize how much you’ve played the role of victim lately in your life. It can be downright scary, to understand how far you’ve let things spin out of control.
But because my brain just loves to hate on myself and be super judgmental, this was super hard for me to do. I had to put into place practice daily habits that allowed me to let go of my past thoughts and pains truly and to embrace a new way of thinking.
Realize this: everyone fucks up. Seriously.
The greatest people to have walked this planet, make mistakes regularly. You are not alone in this. There is no need to give into the shames or the fears that say you too, aren’t worthy of forgiveness. Embracing self-acceptance is key to overcoming this shame.
And for goodness sakes, stop ruminating on your past pain. You might want to forgive that person, but if you are continually rehearsing things in your mind, you will never truly forgive yourself for the role you played or that other person, because you will always have one foot placed back in that painful state. Permit yourself to focus on other things in your life.
I was super inspired by Scott Harrison and his work through Charity: Water. His book “Charity: Water” is blowing up the internet by storm. So naturally being the book nerd that I am, I HAD to read it. I sat down, thinking I’d get a few chapters in (I’m not usually entertainment by non-fiction work like that) and ended up reading his ginormous book from cover to cover in one day. I was blown away by his complete life transformation and was 100% inspired: if his lame-ass drug dealing ways could bring him to saving thousands of lives…then I could certainly have the capacity to change my life for the better too! Do not skip over this book; it is a-maz-ing!
One trick I have used is visualizing a moment that day, that I am especially grateful. This switches my focus from pain to abundance. But recognizing when you are wallowing is not always easy. It takes self-awareness and practice to catch yourself. So give yourself the grace to ease into this slowly. You won’t ever get it perfect. But take baby steps every day and you will get there!
I do this most, by practicing a gratitude meditation, which you can follow in the steps listed here (feel free to pin this, to save it for your reference later!)
Forgiving others is a choice. I am going to start with this because many of us think of forgiveness as something that we will eventually feel. But we won’t. We must make a conscious choice whether to forgive or not.
Forgiving others involves letting go of the judgment that someone else has wronged you. I want to make something exceptionally clear, however. Forgiveness does not mean that you are excusing that other person’s behavior. That’s not OK. Forgiveness is for yourself, and not for the other person. That is why, true healing can only take place when we forgive, whether the other person “deserves” it or not.
One of my best strategies to help let go of the judgment is to sit back and objectively determine what I learned from this painful experience. Call it the silver lining, but doing this can help you take responsibility for some of what happened, and in turn, realize what you are not responsible for, and to let the pain of that go.
It can sometimes feel difficult, but people – the good and the bad – are all in your life for a reason. If you can take the time to discover what it is that life has to teach you from this experience, you can separate your personal growth from the emotional pain, and therefore move forward in your life.
Remember, staying angry at the other person, only serves to harm you. Forgiving someone else is for yourself. It will help you heal, and allow you to let go of the pain that’s been holding you back.
I’m not gonna lie to you; this action step can be difficult. As in d-i-f-f-i-c-u-l-t!
Forgiving others and letting go of your past pain, isn’t something that is so quickly done by following just a “few simple tips.” There’s no secret sauce here. But you can begin to try. And that’s the first step.
Answer the following question, and write them down:
- What are the benefits to letting go? – What will you feel? How can this serve you? Breakthrough the pain, and allow yourself to acknowledge that something else can come of your past.
- Accept that this happened to you, then let it go – I got this trick from a friend of mine. Imagine you are on a river, and there is a boat on the river. Place your pain or your anxiety on the boat, and let it float down the river and away from you. I use this visual to help me practice the art of letting go.
- Forgive – Forgiveness is giving yourself permission to free yourself the other person who wronged you. Think of it more like a choice to free yourself, rather than do it for the other person.
- Make a choice & move forward – you cannot change the past. Focus instead, on what you can change in the future. What can you do today, that will help shift your focus away from the depression, and instead concentrate on things you can do differently tomorrow?
- Repeat steps 1 through 4 – the road to forgiveness is not easy. Give yourself some grace and know, this forgiveness will be a constant choice that you will work towards every day until you reach freedom. Repeat as often as necessary, shame & judgment free.
Download Your Freebie
I know, moving forward past your pain is tougher than your aunt’s overdone Turkey. At least, it was one of the things I have struggled with the most.
It’s not easy to take control of your life, especially when things seem so low. The true secret? You just have to start. And that begins taking small steps every day, to change your life and begin moving forward. I built this workbook for me, so that I could finally figure out what I wanted most for my future (instead of living in the past) and taking the tangible steps I needed to get me closer to a life I truly loved.
The download is FREE (cuz that’s the best!), and it’s instant, so it’s no hassle for ya! Get my 90 Day Goal Workbook by filling out the 10-second form below!