Letting Go of Dwelling in The Past or Fretting About the Future

There sure are a lot of things that weigh us down and worry us. We worry about our health, jobs, money, our children, the environment, political landscapes, and more. For some, these are occasional concerns that can temporarily trip us up, but for others, such burdens or worries grip tightly and imprison people in a state of emotional turmoil for too long.

Some of the things we fret about are naturally more extensive or emotionally intrusive than others, which is when it becomes a problem. After all, it’s normal to be cautious about unknown future events, as it helps prepare us for what steps need to be taken. However, most of the things we agonize over are rarely warranted, aren’t realistic, and never come to pass. The same goes for when we ruminate and replay mental movies – the negative energy we pour into rehashing or bemoaning past events can’t change the present, yet we spend endless hours and waste precious time in a destructive psychological state nonetheless. Essentially, we’re doing the opposite of living our best lives – we’re re-living (or anticipating) the very worst. Wouldn’t it be nice to let go of dwelling in the past and fretting about the future? Let’s take a look at what that might look like and what we can do about it:

Moving onward and upward

Have you ever been upset about something and you’re told to ‘build a bridge’ or ‘shake it off’? While it may sting to hear it, it’s actually a valid point. Hanging on to that toxic energy has proven, negative impacts on our health and well-being. We have to change our thoughts and behaviours if we want to find a more happy, calm and rewarding state of mind. Here are ways to beat that bad habit of dwelling in the past and fretting about the future:

  1. Keep moving forward. The busier we are working towards positive personal or career goals, the less time we have to ruminate about the past or worry about ‘what ifs’.
  2. Build up emotional resilience and learn to manage stress. When we know that life is going to hand us unfortunate situations from time to time, and we’re armed with a bit of grit and the ability to get through it, we can breeze through it instead of suffer through it. Be more confident – you got this!
  3. Regulate negative self-talk. Take control of that inner voice and be in the emotional driver’s seat when it comes to intrusive negative thoughts. In other words, kick those past and future worries to the curb when they start to take over.
  4. Re-frame. Instead of ruminating over a past failure or wrong-doing, why not re-think it and call it something else? Chalk it up to a learning experience or an opportunity to test your inner strength. Pull what’s good from it, and put the negative emotions to bed once and for all.
  5. Seek help. If you’ve tried everything to get over past negative experiences but nothing’s helping, seek professional counselling. You’ll likely learn about cognitive behaviour modification, which is a very successful method to help when people need to move on and move forward from negative experiences or bad habits.

As we continue to explore the benefits of letting go of all heavy baggage we carry, it becomes more and more clear just how big a toll it takes on us. When we hold on to anger and resentment, worries and past grudges, we’re not who we’re supposed to be. We’re supposed to be lighter, more carefree, and above all, happier.

“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”– Winston Churchill