Being Present: Letting Go of The Past

Being Present: Letting Go of The Past

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“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realise that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.” ~ Steve Maraboli, ‘Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

We must learn to live in the present. We hear that a lot, don’t we? But do we know the extent of what living in the present truly entails? Yes, learning to be present, in its simplest form, is to focus on the here and now, but that is not all it takes to master this state of being. One of the biggest hurdles to clear when learning to live in the moment, is dispatching your baggage. Letting go of your past mistakes, worries and grievances; to cleanse your self and take each day as it comes. Releasing your past experiences is vital to a happy life, and a truly freeing act, if you can pull it off! Here’s how to make a good start…

Brain Space

One of the biggest problems in dealing with our emotional baggage is neglect. We very rarely take time to disconnect and look our past in the eye. Our past has a habit of leaking into our subconscious and affecting day to day behaviour. Because of this, we sometimes give more weight to past events than they warrant. Take some time to disconnect; for you this might mean going for a run, or it could mean something as dramatic as climbing a desolate mountain somewhere in the wide world, where there is not a soul to be seen! It is truly important to take time to unpack your memories and really weigh up what they are worth and weather they need be taken notice of any more.


Let us remind ourselves of the basic act of being present. Being present takes practice. It means to focus on only what is happening right in the here and now, and noticing all the sensations that come along with it. For this to happen, your mind must be clear of excess clutter. The very act of focus prevents us from revelling in the past, making those uncomfortable memories become less influential. Practice a little every day, and you will find that this eventually becomes natural behaviour.

Learn to Be Yourself

This is another well-trodden piece of advice. We are constantly judging, editing, and punishing ourselves. Learn to be more open honest. If something is on your mind, speak it out, let the world hear it. Getting things off your chest has been proven to improve mental health, a real emotional weight is lifted when you embrace emotive transparency. Nobody is perfect, so try to stop second guessing yourself and have faith that you being your authentic self is all you ever need to be.

Let Your Past be A Lesson, Not A State of Being

Identifying the lessons from our past is what helps us to grow. But, there is a difference between learning from mistakes, and wallowing in them. Do not consider mistakes as a permanent part of your personality, see them as stepping stones to the person you want to be. You cannot think ill of a person who owns their mistakes, is open about their pitfalls, and strives to become a better version of themselves.

Who Is in Your Life?

Our past often hangs around in the form of other people. Who are the people in your life? Who brings you up and who drags you down. Old acquaintances and connections can often be a symbol of a past version of yourself. So, you need to have a think. Is it time to move away from these people? Do you need to address them face to face about your concerns? Cutting someone out can feel extremely harsh, but one toxic person in your life can be catastrophic. Surround yourself with good people.


To forgive another is extremely generous to the offending party and might feel hard to do. However, grudges weigh us down. Are your grudges really helping you to feel fulfilled? Forgive. Forgive others and, perhaps most importantly, forgive yourself. We can’t change out past actions, we can only affect what is now and what is ahead. Keep striving to be better and keep moving forward.

By Chris Thomson

If you are new to the practice of being present, why not take a look at how to implement it in a little more detail: What Does It Mean to Be Present?

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