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Letting Go of the Past A Psychotherapist Speaks

Letting go of the past may not always be the easiest thing to do, but it may very well be one of the wisest

One thing is certain - each and every single one of us has a past. And just as certain is the fact that in that past, each one of us will have undergone experiences that were in some way unfair.

When we have the perception of unfairness then there are only two primary emotions that we can feel - anger and guilt.

Though anger may pose behind other names such as 'resentment', 'annoyance' and 'irritation', and guilt can masquerade under labels such as 'regret', 'shame' and 'self-judgment', they are still essentially those two primary emotions - anger and guilt.

But what, precisely, is anger? And what is guilt?

Well, anger is the name of the emotion produced when we feel that someone has been unfair to us or to someone or something that we care about.

And guilt is the name of the emotion produced when we feel that we ourselves have been unfair.

Both of these emotions are there to instruct and to inform us. Without them, we would simply pass through life more or less as automatons or robots, unable to truly learn and grow.

Indeed, without the emotions of anger and guilt we might easily turn others or ourselves into victims.

Yet because both anger and guilt are such powerful emotions, it can sometimes be difficult to let go of them and move on with our lives. Sometimes it's so easy to get stuck in the past.

All too easily we can internalize these feelings and carry them within us, weighing us down and blocking our proper forward movement, our natural growth.

And there are also those emotions that we may not consciously be aware of, but which are replayed time and again when some experience or thought just seems to trigger them on a subconscious level.

It's as if the mind just wanders and then, for no apparent reason, we are transported once more to a past that leaves us feeling down or upset or depressed.

When this happens, it's just as if our past turns a knife somewhere deep inside us. That pain is there to tell us that we are having difficulty in letting go of the past. It tells us that we are somehow stuck in the past.

Anger and guilt that is buried and internalized in this way lasts much too long and can so easily become toxic and damaging, affecting our inner balance and our health, preventing us from living life to the full.

The truth is that having been instructed by these feelings and emotions, we then need to let them go and move on with life.

When we fail to do this - either consciously or subconsciously - then we become stuck in the past, trapped like the proverbial fly on a fly-paper of our own making.

No matter the form or the origin of the unfairness - whether visited upon or created by us - there has to come a time when we move on with our lives, letting go of the past.

And so often this means that we need to forgive.

It really does not matter whether the person who has offended us deserves or merits our forgiveness. That is not the point. By hanging onto our anger and our guilt we simply harm ourselves.

Indeed, the person or people who have hurt us quite often simply go about their business unaffected by our anger. It is we ourselves who really suffer.

And the same is true of guilt.

Once we have learned guilt's lesson then we are really unlikely to repeat it and it serves no useful purpose to continue punishing ourselves with this painful emotion.

In truth, it really is in our own best interest to forgive - ourselves and others - so that we can move on with our lives as better, more rounded human beings.

If you are stuck in the past; if you are a victim of past anger or guilt that persists and robs you of peace of mind, then perhaps it would be wise to consider working with someone who has experience helping others free themselves from the past and its harmful feelings.

You were not born to live in yesterday.

Isn't now the time you began letting go of the past and got on with your life?

About Author Peter James Field :

A leading British hypno-psychotherapist, with clinics in Birmingham and London, UK, Peter Field is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Health and a Member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. His 'Letting Go of the Past' self hypnosis download is available at: <a href="" target="_blank"></a> For more of his useful articles and other helpful information, please visit his website: <a href="" target="_blank"></a>

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Article Added on Wednesday, October 14, 2009
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