You've just found the ultimate guide to learning how to stop dwelling on the past and move on. This is everything you need to know how to effectively and powerfully help you to move on from past events, mistakes. This guide will help you with your overthinking patterns too.
What we'll cover in this guide :
If you can't seem to stop dwelling on past situations, then you're in the right place!
Let's dig in so you can stop ruminating about the negative thoughts you have about something you said or something you did so you can finally let go and feel peace in your mind.
Is dwelling on the past a serious problem?
We live in three dimensions all day long. We live in our past by way of our thoughts. We live in the future worrying about what will be, and we live in the now moment as you're reading this article.
Realizing that when we're ruminating on the past, it's usually about how someone spoke harshly to us or about an event or something that someone did to us. We're ruminating over the mistakes that we made. Sometimes we're thinking about the past when times were simple and wishing we could experience that now.
We must be careful about this because it's what keeps us incapable of creating this now moment of joy and satisfaction but also the ideal future of bliss.
Unfortunately, I've seen my clients end up stuck in the past and brainwashed by their own toxic thoughts which is extremely problematic.
First, you need to know it's normal behavior. It means that when you make mistakes, you feel bad about it. You have a conscience. That's good, the trick is to get you to make peace with the fact that you're human and everyone makes mistakes.
Many people just need permission to forgive themselves.
"Is it just in my DNA to constantly be thinking about my past mistakes?"
That's a great question and for some people, I would say it IS part of their personality. Understand something, we have all practiced being who we are. We are creating habits of behavior so if you're wiring your brain to think a certain way, then yes, you're creating a version of yourself where this is just YOU.
This of course isn't ideal and we need to work to re-wire our brain. The goal is to be a more optimal version of ourselves that has more control and mental strength. Online coaching is a great way to work on this.
Is dwelling on the past a sign of depression?
This can absolutely be a sign of depression. When I see my clients finding themselves consistently fixated on past events, regrets, or negative experiences, I go to work to see if it's because of a deep-rooted emotional struggle.
Depression often manifests as constant rumination and thoughts leading to an unnecessary preoccupation with past mistakes, losses, or traumas.
Breaking Free from Past Regrets:
The act of dwelling on past situations can exacerbate feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and self-blame, trapping individuals in a cycle of negative thoughts and preventing them from fully engaging in the present.
Shifting focus away from the past and instead embracing the present and future is an essential part of the formula for escaping the cycle of obsessing over the past.
If persistent and interfering with daily functioning, it is crucial to seek professional help to address both the underlying depression and the patterns of rumination. This offers an opportunity for healing and growth.
This is your conscious mind reading but most of the day, when we're struggling with our thoughts, we're not only unable to enjoy our life but we're being controlled by our subconscious mind. This also can control the routines and habits of our thoughts.
Unfortunately what we're doing is creating a habit of thinking which causes negativity, sometimes sadness, regret, hurt, and anger. Soon, the negativity becomes just who we are.
When you're constantly practicing any of these feelings of hurt, anger or regret, it ultimately affects your nervous system which has been known to cause us to be depressed and stressed as I talk about in this article.
Why can't I stop dwelling on the past?
Resisting the Temptation
This is such an important question one that's been hinted at already. You can't seem to move on because you haven't let go. You haven't made peace with the old situation and you've created a habit of constantly thinking of the past.
You've likely, hard-wired your brain to do this. This is what we humans do. We brainwash ourselves and it's really quite easy to do.
Once you practice a thought, a lot like a mantra or an affirmation, you memorize it, and then it becomes part of you.
A lot of people say that positive thinking doesn't work but I challenge you to think a negative thought every-single-day, several times a day, and see if you start believing it.
The Steps: Letting go of what you can't control
Overcoming the Habit
It feels scary to change. This is your primative mind telling you lies. Your brain wants to seek homeostasis which simply means, staying the same. It's just hard for your body to change. The whole idea causes your nervous system to overload. Here are the steps you'll need to take, to embrace letting go of what you can't control.
The Steps to stop dwelling on the past:
Ruminating over past mistakes is one of the biggest challenges that my clients experience.
The process is all about changing the thoughts and feelings that we have. It's truly regaining control over life and beginning to see ourselves in a different light that creates the biggest change.
Now that you have the steps to stop dwelling in the past, let's go deeper.
You wouldn't be reading this article if you were denying that it's affecting you negatively.
Moving on from our past mistakes takes a lot of inner strength and courage. You'll want to practice acceptance, and grace for yourself.
What we do instead is practice being a bully to ourselves. Moving on from past mistakes is all about recognizing that mistakes and failures are normal. You wouldn't beat up your sister or your child for making a mistake, so stop holding on to these mistakes and forgive yourself.
What to do if you think, "I can't move on from the past"
First, know that you'll need to talk to someone you trust.
Secondly, learn to practice being intentional. Being mindful of your behavior is critical for healing.
Finally, learn to have compassion for yourself. You would forgive a friend or family for their transgressions, so be kind to yourself and accept it happened but have self-compassion and let go.
Here are some journal questions to help you.
First, write down what happened. Describe in detail as much as possible.
When did this happen? (Today, yesterday, one month ago, a year or longer ago)
Did it make you sad, scared, angry, unsafe, or worried for example?
How often did this happen? (Once or a few times)
How stressful was this? (Not very, a little stress, or very stressful)
How much change did this cause?
How do you feel now? (I can handle it, I need some help)
What kind of help would you like?
What is the EXACT thought you're ruminating about?
What feeling does it give you?
What is a better feeling that you'd like to have?
What thought do you have to have to experience this feeling?
Guilt Plays An Important Role In Dealing With Past Mistakes
If you feel guilty about the past or ashamed about what you may have done or not done-perhaps unintentionally hurting someone as an example, realize that you're just human.
Guilt and shame over our actual or perceived transgressions are normal human emotions that can help us learn, grow, and, through forgiveness, deepen our relationships. Guilt and shame can serve to remind us of our flaws, our vulnerabilities, and make us humble, which can be a wonderful thing to know—that we are imperfect.
Guilt can also be a motivator—if I messed up this time, maybe I can do better next time.
John Bradshaw, an author, counselor, and motivational speaker, said that guilt leads us to think, “I made a mistake,” but shame often leads us to think, “I am a mistake.” Guilt says “What I did was bad,” whereas shame says “I am bad.”
Questions you may want to consider are:
What could I have done differently in that situation? What did I learn from it?
Have I apologized if I have hurt another person? Why or why not?
What do I need to do to have closure about this situation for myself and/or with the other person(s)?
What do I need to do or say to be able to forgive myself?
Ultimately, our results are up to us. When we CONTINUE to be our own worst bully and ruminate ugly words and thoughts over and over, we're setting ourselves up for mental chaos.
Imagine a future where you change nothing, what will your life be like in five years? How about 10 years? If you continue thinking this same thought and have the same feelings which make you feel bad, sad, anxious, shameful or guilty, THIS is exactly who you'll be.
I know you don't want that so what's the answer? Simply put, you need to practice new thoughts.
I know this is harsh but you've got to take control of your life NOW! Dwelling on the past can often mean that you've LOST control of your life.
Take some time to do the inner work to drastically change your life!
Sharon Lee - Your online life coach
How do I focus on the present moment?
Focusing on the present moment requires practice. Start by taking a few minutes each day for mindfulness meditation. Observe your breath, sensations, and surroundings without judgment. Gradually, expand this practice into your daily life, paying full attention to each activity, whether it's eating, walking, or working.
What happens in the brain when we think about the past?
When we think about the past, our brain's memory centers, such as the hippocampus, become active. Neurons fire, retrieving stored information and reliving past experiences. This process can trigger associated emotions and sensations, shaping our current feelings.
What are the negative effects of dwelling on the past?
Dwelling on the past can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and depression. It may hinder personal growth and hinder our ability to seize present opportunities. Over time, it can also strain relationships and hinder overall well-being.
How do I live a more mindful life?
Living a more mindful life involves cultivating awareness in all you do. Start by setting clear intentions for your day and regularly checking in with yourself. Practice deep breathing to stay centered, and minimize distractions when engaging in tasks. Regular mindfulness exercises, such as yoga or mindful journaling, can also help you develop a more mindful lifestyle over time.
Why do we sometimes get stuck dwelling on the past?
Getting stuck in dwelling on the past often occurs when we ruminate over unresolved issues, regrets, or past traumas. Our brains may replay these memories repeatedly, making it challenging to move forward.
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About The Author: Sharon Lee
Career | Wellness | Business | Relationship
It's my life’s purpose to help you identify, clarify and realize your dreams. To help you create new goals and dreams and keep you accountable in the process.
The great thing about Life Coaching is it’s all about collaboration. I show up and meet you right where you are in life providing you with the tools and support. My clients say it's life changing and I'm honored to share in the journey with you.
Come open yourself up to the possibilities.
My dream is to show you how you can have it ALL - a thriving life and business built on your soul-aligned purpose, designed around your LIFE instead of the other way around, leaving you with time and money for everything that matters to you.