Here Are 5 of The Most Powerful Ways to Stop Holding on to the Pain of the Past

Imagine life without the disorganised thoughts playing out inside your head. Imagine a state of peaceful thoughts which come and go like the ocean tides – without struggle, pain or resistance.

Are you holding on to painful memories which you find difficult to let go of? Many people remain unconscious to these memories until they overwhelm them.

Holding on to pain may be akin to clutching hot coal wishing that you don’t get burnt. Each time a painful memory is recalled, it is brought to life by inviting the past into the present.

Have you experienced a moment throughout the day, when for no apparent reason you are drawn into a bad mood? Mood swings represent the unconscious self recalling past memories.

When we least expect it negative emotions such as anger, frustration, anxiety and sadness emerge. For some people holding onto pain signifies a badge of honour – it identifies them as one who has been victimised. They wear their badge to mark their identity and as a means to justify their victimhood.

In order to harness the richness of life we must be willing to let go of our pain. We must drop the story that accompanies the pain. This begins with the desire to release the pain and suffering in order to allow the new, fresh and expansive energy of life to permeate through our being.

By no means does this underscore the gravity of what occurred in the past. You are choosing not to carry the burden of the pain in the present moment and future. When we identify with our pain, we view the world through a distorted lens.

Those fleeting moments of joy and happiness are lost to a mind which has spent years drawing on painful memories. You may have come across people who carry their victimhood with them.

They use any opportunity to go to war with others when life does not play their tune. I see this frequently while shopping. Whilst standing in line I notice there may be only one checkout operator processing customer’s purchases. The checkout operator grows distressed at the growing queue of people standing in line yet is unable to go any faster.

A person standing in queue quickly grows impatient for being made to wait more than necessary. Suddenly they incite tension among other shoppers by rallying those who identified with their plight.

This example is an all too common experience in everyday life. It illustrates how minor situations can derail us and cause mental and emotional unrest.

Who Would You Be Without Your Story?

“When we think we have been hurt by someone in the past, we build up defences to protect ourselves from being hurt in the future. So the fearful past causes a fearful future and the past and future become one. We cannot love when we feel fear…. When we release the fearful past and forgive everyone, we will experience total love and oneness with all.” ― Gerald G. Jampolsky

It takes a great deal of energy to keep the past alive. The mental and emotional resources required could be better spent on other rewarding life experiences. Over time and if left untreated, painful memories have the capacity to transform into psychosomatic illnesses.

Mental health professionals believe it takes approximately one and a half minutes for the body to process an emotion. Knowing this we needn’t hold onto mental and emotional pain from the past, nor do we need to carry it with us for years.

Simply dealing with the emotion as it arises allows it to move through the body in a shorter amount of time and without the long term physiological effects.

Oftentimes people hold on to their pain for so long that it forms a safety blanket. They would feel lost without the pain and suffering. Afterall, they would have no story to tell. Perhaps others might find them uninteresting.

Who would they be without their story?

Bad things happen to good people every day. They have happen to good people all throughout human history.

One need only look to the concentration camps in Nazi Germany during the war to see the devastation it had on the lives of so many innocent people. Despite the brutality, one man emerged in his personal statement against his aggressors.

Viktor Frankl’s quote highlights our power to transform external life’s events into meaningful personal victories. He reminds us: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

In order to release your pain, make an inner declaration to choose peace, happiness and freedom – even if you don’t know how. Once you abide by this affirmation, the healing process has already begun and your unconscious mind will naturally move toward a state of peacefulness through your thoughts.

You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to release yourself from the mental prison that has held you captive all this time. I can assure you that life is far richer without the burden of pain memories.

The Real Story Of Your Authenticity

“When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” — Alexander Graham Bell

Victims never heal – they simply carry the wounded victim title around showcasing it to people who will listen to their plight. It makes them feel acknowledged they have suffered an indignity.

Yet if you continue to feed and perpetuate this story, your mind naturally becomes accustomed to it by buying into it. That’s why affirmations work – anything repeated often and with emotional intensity has the power to transform the subconscious mind and thus bring life to the thought.

The mind thrives on creating a storyline to substantiate what it sees or experiences. Yet awareness has the experience well before the mind has had time to create a thought to validate it.

In his book Simply Notice: Clear Awareness Is the Key To Happiness, Love and Freedom, author Peter Francis Dziuban reinforces the idea of the mind seeking to add commentary to your life’s experiences: “Before something can clearly be seen or perceived for what it is, thinking is already adding judgements and commentary, acting like a smoke screen.”

Therefore if you constantly create a narrative around your emotional experiences, the mind creates a smoke screen as the author suggests to conceal what is really taking place beneath the surface.

In time the real self becomes obscured by this screen since you have bought in to a false facade instead of the real story of your authenticity.

To create a new and more empowering future requires that you create a space in your life to heal the past and release the pain.

In order to release the pain you must be willing to engage the following attributes towards carving out a path towards inner peace and freedom.

  • Commitment

“Let go. Why do you cling to pain? There is nothing you can do about the wrongs of yesterday. It is not yours to judge. Why hold on to the very thing which keeps you from hope and love?” — Leo Buscaglia

A person who has undergone mental and emotional trauma may find it difficult to let go of their suffering. They protect themselves by erecting an emotional barrier which distances them from having to feel the emotions again or relive the mental anguish of the pain.

Unfortunately the mind becomes astute at creating a barrier that in time it becomes impenetrable to deal with the emotional wounds. Your commitment to healing the past by letting go of these wounds if the first step in reconciling with the past.

The commitment heralds the process of facing the past by bringing unresolved issues to the surface in order to heal them. The challenge posed with honouring this commitment arises when confronting the pain, since this can be overwhelming at first.

We must take refuge that to heal the past we must be willing to push through the pain, since pain is where personal growth and healing resides.

Without it we continue to conceal the pain by using whatever means to keep us from facing the past. This may mean resorting to stimulants or unconducive behaviour which acts to distract us from the real issue.

Once the commitment is made, trust that your healing process had already begun through your willingness to face the past.

“I don’t regret difficulties I experienced; I think they helped me to become the person I am today. I feel the way a warrior must feel after years of training; he doesn’t remember the details of everything he learned, but he knows how to strike when the time is right.” — Paolo Coelho

Masking pain may work for the short-term, yet it does not address the underlying issue. It would be akin to applying band aid to a gushing wound hoping the blood would stop. The deep wound may require stitches and further medical care in order to properly heal.

Acknowledging the pain invites you to feel the emotions connected to the pain, rather than stuff them down hoping that will go away.

Remember: what you resist, persists.

The energy expended towards stuffing down unwanted emotions far exceeds the energy required to heal the emotion. Resistance is a stone wall which overshadows our best intentions to thrive and prosper.

We resist how life should unfold, since we are caught up in a mental and emotional battle to make sense of reality.

What if I told you there’s another way?

What if you did not have to carry the scars of the past with you any longer?

What if instead of waging battle against the currents of life, you simply went along with it?

In his book When Everything Changes, Change Everything, author Neale Donald Walsch offers us the wisdom that life is our soul’s calling towards its own self-discovery.

Those untoward events serve not to punish us, yet to reveal your deepest wisdom. Untoward events and circumstances do not need to happen TO YOU.

Dealing with discomfort and pain may be confronting, although life is cyclical and everything must come to an end; even pain. Therefore instead of running away from your emotions, lean into them by experiencing them fully.

This in itself will transform your fear, anxiety or anger. Let go of what you believe life owes you and step into your challenges.

Rise to them armed with courage and a compassionate heart. Maintain confidence that you have been presented with an experience from which to personally evolve.

  • Acceptance

“Only by acceptance of the past can you alter it.” — T.S. Eliot

Everyone encounters pain throughout their life. To sail through life without the contrasting emotional intensities would be to deny your personal growth. Character is formed under difficult circumstances, much like a diamond is formed under heat and pressure.

Pain and suffering begins in childhood and continues throughout life. What people do with inner wounds that stem from pain will determine their attitude and actions throughout life.

Inner wounds trigger some to persecute themselves. They believe, “I must deserve this” or “I’ll never be good enough” and yet it is this way of thinking which keeps them in a state of unworthiness.

We can be hard on ourselves since we fail to respect our past and its accompanying pain need not be viewed as scars any longer. You are not a wounded soul because of your emotional experiences. You become the wounded victim when you repeatedly use those wounds to deflect from attending to the real pain inside.

By accepting the past rather than run away from it, you build a bridge which connects to your future self. The future self delights in bringing you the emotional resources you need to heal this very moment instead of bringing the past and present baggage into the future.

Imagine taking a train ride from one side of the country to one another and insisting on stopping over in each city to pick up souvenirs. By the end of your journey not only would you be broke, the amount of energy required to haul your suitcases filled with souvenirs would be physically taxing.

So it is with holding on to your pain. Acceptance does not deny you the pain incurred, it merely shines a light on the cracks so as to integrate them back into the wholeness of your being.

  • Releasing

“The past was always there, lived inside of you, and it helped to make you who you were. But it had to be placed in perspective. The past could not dominate the future.”― Barbara Taylor Bradford, Unexpected Blessings

Emotional pain of the past can be held within the body if left unattended. A number of doctors have documented how emotions can cause a host of physical symptoms in the body.

Notably Dr John Sarno and Dr Don Colbert have written extensively on how toxic emotions have the capacity to manifest as physical pain.

They outline how emotions seek expression through you and if pushed down, will manifest in the body system. Releasing your emotional pain should be met with compassion. You are letting go of the pain and hurt with an open and loving heart in order to cleanse and make peace with the past.

The releasing process may be approached in a number of ways. For some working with a trained mental health professional might be the best decision so as to gentle release the pain gradually over time.

The skilled professional will deal with each situation individually, as some people may hold deeper emotional wounds than others, especially if there has been physical abuse. Others might turn to a spiritual leader within their community for healing. One’s faith in the healing process is paramount and will guide the person to gradually let go and surrender their emotional pain over time.

Mixed feelings may surface during the process as well as physical changes in the body, owing to the person purging themselves of the emotional burden carried all these years.

Dr Sarno describes healing back pain in hundreds of his patients who conveyed the emotions of anger and anxiety. Similarly Dr Colbert outlined how unforgiveness and betrayal had cause heart disease in a number of his patients who were unwilling to forgive.

As you release the emotional wounds of the past, a lightness fills your body and mind – a weight is shifted off your shoulders. This is the weight of carrying the disempowering emotions all this time.

  • Forgiveness

“The act of forgiveness is the act of returning to present time. And that’s why when one has become a forgiving person, and has managed to let go of the past, what they’ve really done is they’ve shifted their relationship with time.” — Caroline Myss

Forgiveness entails forgiving oneself as well as the other person. We are co-creators of our life’s experience. Acknowledging this means no longer having to play victim to all that transpires in our life.

There is power knowing life need not happen to us rather that it flows through us. As we create empowering choices which are aligned with our spiritual truth, we trust life functions perfectly within the container of universal wisdom.

We have faith that each experience serves a purpose in our personal evolution and once the lesson has been attained, we release and surrender it with openness to what will fill its place.

Your belief that you have performed “bad” actions in the past and the ensuing guilt is a flawed assumption which must be examined. A bad act does not define someone as being bad.

Your natural state consists of wholeness and goodness since you were not conceived in the image of evil. It is your thinking which discolours your perception that a bad act in the past must be punished accordingly.

Therefore as you heal the inner conflict contained within the inaccurate belief, you see self-forgiveness is possible and you need not persecute yourself any longer.

Furthermore if you search deeper within you will see that your intentions at the time were vested in self-preservation.

Our actions arise from the human instinct to take care of oneself at all times, therefore your actions were imbued with self-love rather than harm to others. Self-forgiveness should be viewed as a process which gradually opens the door to healing and allows us to surrender to life enacting her will through us.

We invite the healing energy of love which resides within us to permeate throughout our being. It is always there yet we conceal it by perpetuating a false myth of our guilt instead of our innocence.

How Do I Break Out of the Cycle of Depression and Self-Blame?

I grew up in poverty and had no one to coach me academically or philosophically, but was smart with minimal effort, did well, and muddled through a strong state school, then into debt and got a master’s at a top private school just to validate my intelligence/have something productive to do (a perpetual 3.4 GPA student) rather than continue “wasting away.” I’m depressed, uncertain about what I want, but ambitious and obsessively asking myself what the next step in life is, what is meaningful to me, and what careers are worth pursuing to me.

I’m contemplating getting a PhD, but I’m on my way out of my 20s and so worried I’ll just be poor for the majority of my adult life. Let me know if you need more details to make sense of this  question, and thank you for your patience for yet another 20-something  whiner (nota bene–a tough love approach will just leave me feeling more  worthless, as it’s the approach I’ve tried on myself my whole life, which eventually ran out of steam and left me mired in depression).

  1. I am called “ the biggest loser” in my friends circle.
  2. My father thinks that I have wasted his money in paying tuition fees of universities. He thinks that I don’t deserve a great job.
  3. My relatives consider me an average student who has no ambition and career.
  4. My boss thinks that I can’t handle any situation and she can’t depend on me.
  5. According to the success criteria of the society, I am a complete failure.
  6. I am short height person~ 5′ 2′’
  7. My physical stamina is very low. After running 5 minutes, I can’t breathe and I feel exhausted.
  8. I don’t have a great career. My job application has been rejected by 1700 employers till today. Currently, I am doing an ordinary job.
  9. My friends are driving their personal car while I am still hanging in the local bus in a huge crowd.
  10. I am going bald gradually.
  11. I don’t have good physical appearance.
  12. I’ve been rejected by many girls and I don’t have girl friend at all.
  13. I have directional dyslexia. I always get confused about left-right direction and find myself lost even on common roads.
  14. I have a severe problem to forget everything. I can’t remember anything. I forget important deadlines of assignments, persons’ names, important steps and so on.
  15. I grew up in a middle class family and my parents don’t have any property.
  16. I lack self-confidence and good interpersonal skills.
  17. I often stumble to speak and write in English language.
  18. I have poor writing skills. My first 70 answers on Quora didn’t get a single upvote.


Life has thrown to me a challenge. I have several reasons to be depressed and frustrated. But, I don’t. I don’t care what the society thinks about me, my career, my appearance, my being a failure and so on. I am trying to break out of the cycle of depression, self-blame, meandering purposelessness and mediocrity by these ways-

  • First, we have to accept ourselves. Whatever you are, just accept it. I am a mediocre, people. I’ve accepted myself. Then, work hard to overcome the mediocrity. I am working hard to improve my condition.


  • Don’t be part of a rat race of life. Here, everyone wants to be winner. But people always forget that if you win this rat race, you will be trapped in this vicious circle of success. There will be lots of stress and unlimited expectations. So, find your passion and work on it. I have found my passion and working hard to achieve it.


  • Enhance your physical and mental capability to face the challenge of life. Do meditation, running and push-ups. Every morning, I do these things.


  • Do you know what is the secret of success? Don’t expect anything from life. Just do your activities sincerely and pretend that you don’t have right to get anything. Whatever, you get, consider it as a bonus. Life will be really easy. I strictly follow this principle in my life.


  • Don’t take life too seriously. You will be in deep trouble. I take the life as usual.


  • Try to be persistent with your hard work and time management. Life is not a movie and anything will not be changed overnight. Give continuous effort and do work hard. The situation will start to change gradually.


  • Always show gratitude to God about your situation. Millions of people are homeless and they don’t have food to eat. Always think about their condition. I feel blessed and show gratitude to God that my condition is way better than them.


  • Build powerful habit. 90%people don’t get rid of bad habits. They try to achieve success but they get failed again and again due to being persisted with bad habits. So, set your goal and do particular tasks everyday. It can be developing your maths skill, language skill or programming skill. Just spend 30–40 minutes everyday. It will turn into a habit. Your subconscious mind will work for it, you don’t need to do anything.


  • Help people. Whatever your condition is, always try to help people. It will give you self-confidence and self-satisfaction. I love to help.


  • Try to live in the present moment. Your past has already gone. Your future is waiting. You can not change these. You can only change the present moment by doing hard work. Therefore, I always focus on the present moment.


  • Take responsibility for your action. Self-blame is not a solution for any problem. We have to take responsibility for our own action. Then, find out the solutions to overcome the problem. I don’t give self blame and I take responsibility for my action and evaluate it.


  • Set your goal of life. Purposelessness is a dangerous thing which distracts your mind. Therefore, do meditation and try to think what you love to do. During meditation, your mind will be stable, highly focused and you will find out your purpose of life. But you have to meditation for 3 months regularly. Then, it will work.


  • Stands out among the crowd. Overcoming mediocrity is difficult but possible. Always try to stand out among the crowd by your innovative business ideas, hard work and unique qualities.


  • Don’t try to be jack of all trade. You should focus on only one particular subject and try to achieve world class expertise on that specific subject. It can be sports, theater, singing, playing instrument, writing, photography.


  • Life is full of endless opportunities. I can fail at exam, rejected by employers, fired from jobs, rejected by girls. Life is more than that of these failures. Lots of doors may be closed for me. But I believe that there are hundreds of doors which I can open and astonishing opportunities are waiting for me.


  • Self confidence and good interpersonal skill really works at tough situation. I do meditation, run, speak English with my friends to develop English language skill, practice public speaking in front of mirror, set small targets and try to achieve it, talk with strangers and make friendship, read self help book, observe behavior of successful people to achieve self confidence and interpersonal skill.


  • Create own method to solve for specific problem. I forget everything. That’s why I write down everything in my note book, give reminders in my cellphone and use sticky notes software in my laptop to remember specific deadlines for any task.


  • Only think about those things which are in your control. I don’t think about my height and directional dyslexia problem. It’s out of my control. I only focus on those activities which is in my control and help me to become a skilled and better person.


  • Do what you love. I love to write. But I know that I don’t have good writing skill. Moreover, I have lots of grammatical mistakes in my answers in quora. Still, I continue writing. I write to satisfy myself and get rid of my sufferings and pain.


  • Always try to be positive after several failures. American Industrialist and the founder of Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford has a nice quote about failure. When I fail at different situations of life, I just remember this quote “Failure is the opportunity to begin again with more intelligently.” I feel really motivated after remembering this quote and take preparation to start the next mission of my life.