Letting Go of The Past…Again!💫

I was talking with a dear friend and she asked me about a friendship of mine that had ended long ago. She had many questions and as I spoke about the experiences of that relationship, I could feel a tightening in my chest. “That’s odd,” I thought, “This was years ago.” But in that moment, answering those questions, it felt like the events I was describing had happened just last month. Well, not exactly last month, but not many years ago either. When the call ended, I decided to journal as a way of understanding why I was experiencing the pain of that relationship all over again.

I have written blog posts about releasing the past, hosted Women’s Circles on the topic, and even helped others explore ways to move on after major disappointments, harmful relationships, challenging events, or other “hurts” in their lives. So, why had I had such a hard time in that conversation with my dear friend about a so-called friendship that was so clearly in the past?

Rather than judge myself, I chose to believe that I must have done the best I could have done at the time, but obviously I had not fully released the pain and deep level of sadness. So, I decided to “write and burn,” an approach that helps me release lingering feelings that are not easy to dismiss. I grabbed a pen and several sheets of paper, lit a candle, and wrote an “as of this moment, I totally release…” letter to myself, allowing residual pain and sadness to be captured on paper. I wrote and wrote and wrote. When I felt certain that there was nothing left to release, I signed and dated the final page and went outside to burn it all. Watching the flames consume what I had written, I forgave myself for remaining in that emotionally abusive relationship as long as I had, and forgave my former friend, too. I let it all go, with the understanding that now I was truly free.

In our day-to-day life, we sometimes overlook the need to release the burdens of the past and then, when necessary, to release them again. When we think of letting go of the past, we often focus on big things — events, experiences, relationships, that, for whatever reason, we have not yet let go. But there are smaller things, too, comments people have made or old, self-limiting beliefs that we have allowed to hold us back in some way.

I have begun to pay attention to the things, big and small, that weigh me down. They seem to pull me back to a time that no longer exists and keep me from fully experiencing and appreciating what is happening in my life now. My choice to let them go, fully and completely, is helping me feel lighter and freer than ever.
I welcome YOUR thoughts and approaches to freeing yourself from the past, and invite you to share them by clicking on the word “Comments” just under the title of this post. Thank you so very much!

Related posts:
People Who Love You Exactly As You WERE!
“Holding On” Also Holds Us Back
Releasing The Past
Love and Forgiveness
The Freedom of Forgiveness
The Difficult Decision to End An Unhealthy Friendship
The Burden of Unfinished Business

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6 thoughts on “Letting Go of The Past…Again!💫”

  1. Hi Sharon –

    As usual your post arrived in my inbox in a timely manner. I write here to share my experience and also seek your advice.

    What’s on my mind about letting go of the past is related to our past identities. Having spent 20+ workaholic years in corporate America, I find a part of me wanting to slow down, to enjoy the moment, to not be as rushed, to create beauty, to write simply for the joy of it. And a persistent workaholic identity that says “I must be productive”, “I must achieve more in the day” often shows up creating feelings of guilt, a (fleeting) desire to push myself. I wonder how a snake sheds its skin. I imagine the skin underneath has been there all along. Does a snake experience growing and shedding pains like we do?

    What letter do I write and to whom?


    1. Thank you, Henna, for reading this post and for sharing your experiences as you explore letting go of your past identity as a (very successful) person who spent “20+ workaholic years in corporate America.” First, let’s acknowledge that you are not alone in this quest, and that working hard in corporate settings is often driven by a combination of institutional expectations and evaluations of performance AND our own desire to prove ourselves. For some of us, working hard in our careers was rewarded with successes that proved we could do what others thought we could not. When, then, do we decide that we no longer need to prove ourselves?

      You know that I am a big fan of writing letters to ourself as a way of connecting our heart (what we truly want and need in order to feel happy and whole) and our mind (where our thinking self has constructed an elaborate self-judgment mechanism based on social norms, family expectations early in our lives, and the desire to prove our worth by working hard and accomplishing a lot).

      So, to directly answer your question, I gently suggest that you consider writing several loving and compassionate letters to yourself. In one, for example, you can explain to yourself – until you truly believe it – that you deserve to invest your precious time and energy in things you WANT to do rather than in things you feel you SHOULD do. In another letter, you can commit to a new phase of your life that honors what you need and want now, outlining how you will transition into this new phase. I have also found it helpful to write a letter about why, from this moment on, other people’s opinions of you no longer matter.

      Always happy to talk, and sending you love and, of course, a hug,

      Sharon 💞

  2. I can relate so much to this post, Sharon! It is always when I feel that tightening in the chest that I know I am still gripping something (though if feels like it is gripping me!). That is usually the first sign that I need to do some work around it — usually meditation and acceptance. I must try your “write and burn” for this as I was just in the grips of something today I thought I was over – turns our it is still hanging around! Thank you as ever for your posts which always resonate <3

  3. How insightful as this is something that many people struggle with. I love that you have a suggestion on addressing those things that we can’t let go. Mostly I tell myself that I must let go for my own mental health. But knowing that i must doesn’t always translate to “I can”.

  4. I can’t tell you how strongly this post resonates with me. Yesterday was my ex-best friend’s birthday. I’ve spent the past 25 years wishing her a happy birthday on that date, and yesterday was the first time I didn’t. I’m actually in a much better place than I was 10 months ago when our friendship fell apart, but there are still times when I feel the pain of it, the “what could I have done differently?” I do both a full moon and new moon ritual each month, and one of them includes writing down and burning what you want to release. It’s a great way to slough off what might be weighing me down. Thank you for the insight and the love!

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