How to Stop Thinking About the Past (7 Expert Tips) (2023)

It is perfectly normal to think about the past.

However, sometimes we think so much about the past that it negatively affects our life in the present.

Our minds easily get "stuck" in the past, and sometimes it's hard to bring ourselves back to the present moment.

We asked a select group of experts for their best advice on how to stop dwelling on the past.

This is what they said.

We are programmed to think about the past

Elisebeth VanderWeil, Senior Counsel forHand on the advice of darkness

One of the reasons we think so much about the past is that we are programmed to do so.

Much of our basic wiring is still there from when we were mostly arrested. Our default settings are designed to protect us, and reflecting on the past is one way to do that.

Frustratingly, most of the time we focus on "bad" things from the past; Again, this is to help us prevent "bad" things from happening again.

That is becausegratitude journalsthey are so important to people that they want to get away from it. We literally won't remember the good things if we don't work on them.

Also, holding a "memorial service" for a past event, aspect of yourself, or relationship is a good way to step up in appreciation for how the past contributed to who you are now.

Another useful thing to understand about memories is that they fade with each touch, like an oil painting.

Every time we bring a memory to consciousness, we change it.

If an aspect of the past seems to haunt you, knowing that it is a "ghost" that bears very little resemblance (after so many touches) to real events or people can help exorcise it.

Use your body to overcome the past

vanessa brothers, life and performance coach

One of the biggest missed opportunities to not dwell on the past so much is paying more attention to your body.

We spend a lot of time controlling and manipulating our thinking, but these past-based emotions come from the subconscious and the body.Esto the subconscious.

What I mean by that is that the body has stored an emotional memory. The central nervous system constantly scans your internal and external environment for threats that you have already experienced so as not to repeat them.

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What we overlook, however, is that even when we train our minds to focus on the future, set new goals, or change our external circumstances, the body responds by sending familiar emotional signals like fear, doubt, and overwhelm to stop it. . to the comfortable and familiar, that is: the past.

The thing is, even if you decide to do something, if you really want to change and stop living in the past, you have to step in and keep your body on board.

So the key to stop living in the past in your head is actually the body. Mustshakingour bodies to experience the present.

The present always feels calm, neutral, peaceful, abundant, and limitless. When we are not in this state, we are likely to be in a projection of past difficult emotional experiences carried by the body and mind.answersThink about it.

Emotions and thoughts are two sides of the same coin. You can train your body through breathing and meditation to gradually release those old emotional memories stored in the body and truly bring it to a more peaceful state.

As you do this over time, you will gradually live in the present for longer and longer periods of time. He also finds that the new challenges don't keep him upset for as long as before.

Try this: Set a timer for five minutes. At this point, take a deep, slow breath in and imagine yourself holding the energy above your head. Hold your breath, let it go and relax. Repeat this for five minutes.

Then sit for 15 to 45 minutes and feel as if you have entered a much calmer and more neutral space.

Just allow all thoughts and feelings to come and go. Breathing helps calm the mind so the body can relax.

The more you do this, the more your body learns these emotionally stored memories.they are from the pastand no longer try so hard to influence the mind to think about them, leaving space to know and enjoy the present.

How to Stop Thinking About the Past (7 Expert Tips) (1)

(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Reframing the event or memory can help you let go.

Eli Bliliuos, Certified Hypnotist inNew York Hypnosezentrum

They are all shaped or influenced by past events. Even people who don't think about them are still influenced by them.

Regardless of what my clients choose to work with, I find that the subconscious clings to an event from the past that is causing the challenge.

Our past experiences shape the way we view the world. For example, someone who has been cheated on may have difficulty trusting others or become obsessed with her partner because of the infidelity.

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A child who only wants the love of his parents may feel unworthy or unimportant because of a verbally abusive parent.

Ask yourself what you would say to your child if he was struck by a memory that he is constantly thinking about. so say it loudby yourself in the mirror.

By connecting with the subconscious in hypnosis, we can rearrange the event or memory and help you let go.

Give yourself the closure that your mind is looking for

Heather Z. Lyons, licensed psychologist and owner ofThe Baltimore Therapy Group

When we have a hard time letting go of the past, it's usually because we haven't come to closure yet.

When we have what psychologists call "unfinished tasks" or "unfinished gestalts," we are more likely to hold on to that experience and try to complete it.

Think about looking at a photo, what attracts the most attention? The one in which all the details of a person's face are fully visible, or in which part of the face is obscured or someone is possibly turning.

The mystery holds our attention as we try to complete the picture in our mind. The same goes for relationships and events in our lives.

Therefore, the best advice is to find ways to close the gestalt.

If you're struggling to move on from a relationship, write a letter to the person you're thinking about and tell them what you need, without editing. You do not have to mail the letter for this to be useful.

You can also place two chairs facing each other. Sit on one and imagine that the person is sitting across from you and talking to them.

If what you are trying to overcome is related to an event, you should visit the location and stay there for a while so that you can visualize the event.

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(Photo: Adobe Stock)

The past is an old melody that can be harmonized again

miguel alcee, clinical psychologist

Sigmund Freud believed that we repeat and reproduce the past so often out of an obsessive desire to improve and redeem it in the present. He called it the repetition compulsion.

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So here is the key. It's not even healthy to stop thinking about the past.

Like the characters in the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, while we yearn for a magical cure for our torments, it would also snuff out our greatest joys.

Instead of stopping the past, try to find ways to make the past alive in the present and provide information and space for new creative acts that allow your story to unfold with greater potential.

As Emily Dickinson said, “I live in possibilities. A fairer home than prose".

Without the right mindset and approach, the past can lead to a prosaic rather than a poetic approach to life.

In other words, try picking up on previous attempts to reproduce the old script and see why it feels so inevitable, what you're trying to protect, and what you're trying to pave the way for.

Musically, the past is an old theme that we can transform into a new variation. In other words, it's an old tune that can be re-harmonized.

It's not always easy to go it alone, which is why therapy can be so helpful. Therapy is one of the best technologies that helps us make something creative out of the past, moving from what is simply familiar and repetitive to something that feels strange and refreshingly new.

The present moment is the only period of time in which we really live.

Anne-Marie Emanuelli, Creative Director and Founder ofConscious Limits

As experts in meditation, we understand why we think so much about the past, that the past is an experience of our lives that we make sense of because we personally experienced the details of the event.

Our ego also holds on tightly to the past because that is where our sense of identity resides.

The reason past thoughts are problematic is because we mistake them for real reality, creating a flawed history of suffering.

The present moment is the only period of time in which we really live: the direct or real reality that is unfolding here and now.

In the Buddhist teaching of the five skandhas (five conditions), we interact with our environment to "create what we normally perceive as conventional human reality as opposed to actual reality." (from "The Five Conditions", an article by Sensei Sean Murphy).

Through meditation and mindfulness, the Five States help us understand our perceptions, past conditioning, and personal history that causes suffering.

It is presented as a chain that begins with the sensation/perception (first encounter with a thought), followed by the feeling (liking or disliking), moving on to the reaction (emotions related to the thought) and then to the interpretation (where the thought becomes conscious). ) and if left unchecked, ends up in history (the place where meaning is created around thought; usually flawed and irrational), causing suffering.

When a person meditates with open awareness, a type of meditation practice during which all thoughts and awareness are allowed and acknowledged, they accept whatever comes to mind at the time.

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During an open mindfulness practice, thoughts come and go with equanimity (without judgment or attachment).

With practice, this type of mindfulness meditation allows us to focus on the present moment and not let thoughts of the past distract us.

We do not meditate on them, nor do we allow them to dominate our consciousness with stories of pain and suffering.

This would be called "gasping", "attachment" and "aversion", which is explained in the second of the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism.

By accepting thoughts with equanimity and allowing them to dissolve, we understand that there is a way out of suffering (The Third Noble Truth).

Through meditation, mindfulness, detachment, and self-compassion (The Fourth Noble Truth) we can achieve enlightenment, which is basically a calm state of awareness in the present moment that all is well, here and now.

The more a person practices mindfulness meditation, the better and more skilled they become at not allowing their mind to dwell on the past.

As explained in Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson's 'Altered Traits', examining a group of highly experienced meditators: "Other indications of yogi expertise are stopping and starting meditative states within seconds and effortless meditation (particularly among yogis). more experienced). )."

This suggests that a skilled meditator could drift in and out of present moment awareness and relaxation without getting caught up in musings about the past.

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it takes practice

Rachel Austen, licensed occupational psychologist and founder ofausten council

From an evolutionary perspective, our minds are designed to reinforce negative information and retain it as a protective mechanism.

In a way, that's helpful: you don't want to forget there's a predator nearby, or stand in front of a bus in modern times.

While attitudes toward negative events certainly help us identify and fix problems, many people get stuck in the past, fixing and brooding over what doesn't make sense.

It's hard to see the silver lining and it takes work. We have to make an effort to see the positive side. But we can counter this negativity bias with practice.

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For example, try spending a few minutes each day thinking about the things you're grateful for, or ask yourself, "What did I learn from that?"


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