How to Stop Dwelling on Things of the Past

BY Carol McMulkin        April 12, 2017

Have you ever been stuck re-living a past incident? Or maybe you can’t let go of a relationship that has ended? We all spend time dwelling on things that have happened, and it serves no purpose. We are holding ourselves back from being the happiest person we can be.

Sometimes we hold on to these incidents because we’re angry and letting go would feel like we’re letting another person off the hook. After all, how can we stop hating and start forgiving when we don’t believe the other person deserves it? But we’re only hurting ourselves by holding on to negative emotions. The other person is already off the hook!

It’s time to give yourself a break, too.

It’s not always as easy as flicking a switch to let go of anger, hurt, disappointment or any other form of judgement. So here is a list of common ways to help you let go of the past and move forward in bliss:

  • Tap it out of your system.

    Emotional Freedom Techniques (also known as tapping) is a fabulous tool for reframing our thoughts, helping us come to the realization that everything happens for a reason and perhaps there are even benefits to what we went through. A couple of wonderful websites with lots of free resources are and
  • Cut the ties.

    This is a great tool if what you are holding onto involves another person. If you are having trouble moving on from a breakup, separation, or friendship that isn’t good for you, try this.

    It basically involves putting yourself in a quiet space where you can relax, close your eyes, and visualize the person that you can’t get out of your system. Perhaps you will see them floating above you or nearby. Imagine there are many cords or ties binding you to them. These cords can be any size, shape, and material that feels right to you. One by one, cut these cords. You can use golden scissors, a sword, an axe, a saw or any other instrument that you dream up. Whatever comes to your mind is right for you. Start with the bindings of the outer extremities first… their hand to your hand, or their foot to your foot. Save the tie binding your heart to theirs as the last.

    Remember that cutting ties with a person does not mean you can no longer love them or, in some cases, even still have them in your life in some way. What you are releasing is the unhealthy entanglements and bonds that don’t serve you any longer. 
  • Put it in a bag or a box.

    Maybe the thing that you can’t let go of is a whole situation or event that left lots of swirling emotions and judgements in your head. It could be something keeping you awake at night, replaying over and over.

    The next time this happens, close your eyes and look inward. See all the pain, fear, anger, judgement inside you and try to corral it into one big ball. Stuff everything into that one big ball and see it clearly, noticing size, shape, texture and color. Then visualize taking this ball out of your body and putting it in a bag, or box, or any other vessel that is appropriate for you.

    What you do with that vessel depends solely on you. You may want to drop it in the ocean, or bury in in your yard. If you feel like you can’t let it get too far away from you, set it close by on your bedside table or under your bed. Reassure yourself that you can always go back and get it if you need to. I have personally done this exercise several times when I felt like I wasn't ready to completely let go of a situation, so I kept it very close by. Then I discovered that I never needed to re-visit it again. Bonus!

    Another variation of this exercise is to write a letter describing everything you think and feel in detail, and then burn the letter.
  • Meditate.

    I’m never more patient, non-judgemental, or happy than when I have a steady habit of meditation in my life. There are lots of free apps and products out there to help guide you through meditation. At first you might feel like your thoughts won’t stop racing around, drawing you out of your meditative state. That’s okay. Let those thoughts be, don’t follow them. Eventually you’ll find you’re able to quiet your mind and reap the benefits.
  • Read a book.

    One of the best ways to get out of our own negative thoughts is to bring in an infusion of someone else’s positive wisdom. There are far too many helpful, life-saving books out there to list, but some great authors to look for are Wayne Dyer, Mike Dooley, Esther & Jerry Hicks, and Michael A. Singer – in particular The Untethered Soul, which helped me tremendously when I was going through a difficult time in my life. 

It doesn’t matter what method you use to let go of past events that are creating unhappiness in your current life. As long as you let them go. Do it for yourself, not anyone else. Because we all deserve peace of mind and a soul filled with love. I know I do!

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Carol McMulkin

Carol is a Transformational Success Coach, AAMET & NeftTI certified EFT Practitioner and Certified Infinite Possibilities Trainer/Trailblazer. She enjoys working with many clients but gets a special joy from helping women get to a point where they can look in the mirror and say "hello beautiful" and sincerely mean it.

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