words to live by: it's your love
living in the present: an interview with kristen moeller

how to let go of the past & thrive in the present

live in the present( )


While I'm recovering from my little sister's big wedding, I'm featuring a guest post on the site today. Today's guest post was written by Sui Solitaire, a writer and photographer who writes at cynosure about happy, healthy living, especially loving yourself, body image, food and eating, loving others, & loving our planet. Her post about letting go of the past is really a great reminder of why living in the present is so important.

Once upon a time, I was a constantly dripping puddle of regret. I regretted almost everything: allowing myself to be in compromising situations where I was hurt badly, be in relationships with people who took advantage of me, where I went to school, where I didn't go to school... it was as if I were always paralyzed with thinking about how the past could have been different, "if only". Slowly, though, I learned to let go of each and every one of my regrets, and even came to realize that without all those terrible experiences, I wouldn't have been able to become a stronger person. Moving on from the past and your regrets can seem difficult, but that's a belief in itself, and remember, the only person in charge of your beliefs and thoughts is you. With a little bit of self-love, gentle awareness, and patience, you can learn to let go of your regrets and thrive in the present!


  • Be patient with yourself. Allow yourself to grieve, to feel how you truly feel about it. Without grieving first, you won't be able to make space in your heart for healing. Feel all the emotions you need to feel for as long as you need to, and you'll be able to let go of those emotions because they've run their course. Don't get stuck in a cycle of feeling sorry for yourself, though. Pitying yourself won't help you get over it and will do nothing for you except continue your misery.

  • Choose to stop focusing on the past. You are in command of what you regret and what you hold on to, and by first making the conscious choice to start letting go you can be confident in yourself that you will be able to move on. Feel yourself in the present, your surroundings. Look at the date and time-- it is far and away from whatever it was in the past that caused you grief, simply because it is no longer a part of right now.

  • Think about how you can change the outcome of whatever happened in the present. Could you apologize to someone or do something else right now to change the situation or move on from this? Or if it's a situation that can't be affected at this point, remember that you can't change the outcome. What you can do, however, is choose what you will do next time if a similar situation happens again, or what you do now.

  • Be thankful for everything in the past. Yes, I'm telling you to feel gratitude for anything you regret or think was terrible in your past. Whatever happened is not to be regretted, but instead to be a lesson. If you keep on dwelling on the negative aspects of it, you might miss out on a wonderful opportunity to grow. Think about how you can learn from this or how it's made you into a more resilient and capable person. When you realize that it might have actually just been a challenge to help you become a more resilient and awesome person, you can set yourself free.

  • Remind yourself that you're in the present and that the past literally doesn't exist anymore. The past can't affect you in any way... unless you let it. Don't let it. You have control over what you let affects you; forbid it from affecting you anymore. Imagine it's a person; tell it how you feel, honestly. Tell your past that you are going to stop letting it make you feel a certain way. You are strong.

  • Stop thinking about it. First be aware of your thoughts and let them come and go freely, and be conscious of when you're thinking of the past. Don't try to suppress them when they first arise seemingly naturally, but by being aware of them you can be aware of your choice to create those thoughts. You are in control of your own mind. Make the choice to think of the past less and less often.

  • Take a deep breath, and as you exhale, feel yourself exhaling the negative feelings. Breathe in life and the present, breathe out what no longer exists (the past). Do this several times. Try to imagine your regret as something you're holding in your hand (or heart), and slowly, gently, let it go. This may take a few tries, or you might have to do it every time your mind thinks of it again, but you'll feel better a little more each time you do.

Sui Solitaire is a lover, writer, and photographer who writes at cynosure about happy, healthy living, especially loving yourself, body image, food and eating, loving others, & loving our planet (with a mix of photography and her own story too!). Her book, Pleiades, an anthology of her best poetry & prose from the last decade, is coming your way this summer. You can read more articles or get them by RSS, follow her on Twitter @rvxn or Facebook, and check out her photography.


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A great post! Thanks for this.

Harbinger - You're welcome! Glad you enjoyed this guest post.

I think the past shouldn't be in your vernacular. The present moment is too precious to wander about past thoughts. Keep your mind on the present...and you will become positivity present as they say ;)

Great post! I was having serious trouble with regret in my mid to late 20s, and a therapist recommended some of these techniques to help me change my mindset. It's strange how regret can become almost an obsession, a whirlpool you tumble into and cannot get out of, with its own momentum.

I'm pleased to say it's been over a decade since, and I don't regret anything, but see it all as integral to this amazing, beautiful journey I'm on. :)

Awesome post Sui! Me personally, it's been a challenge to be thankful for everything thats happened in the past, but I am getting there !

Jonathan - That's so true! The present is pretty amazing (and, in reality, it's all we ever really have) so it's important to focus on the now and not on the past.

Meredith - Glad you liked Sui's post! You've given me, a twenty-something, a lot of hope with your comment so thank you!

Rocky - Thanks for the comment on Sui's post. It can definitely be a challenge to accept and be thankful for things that have happened in the past, but doing so is a great way to make peace with the present.

A lot of this is about changing what the events of the past mean to you.

This is very powerful.

If you were rejected once and you made it mean 'I am unattractive' then you can go back in your mind and choose for it to mean that 'I wasn't the person at the time that they were looking for'. This meaning is equally valid but a whole lot more freeing for your future life.

Jarrod - I agree that it's a very powerful thing to change the meaning of past events. It's not an easy thing to undertake, but it's incredibly important to use the past as a positive tool to focus on the present. You gave a great example in your comment so thanks!

Great post and topic! I'm always aware to grieve and feel whatever I need to feel for however I long I need to, so that I can get to where I need to be in healing and try not to be too hard on myself for my own process.

I know from experience if you ignore the past too long, it will come up in your present time and time again till you actually deal with it. You don't necessarily have to live in the past, or will be living in the past if are addressing the real issue of what's bothering you. If you brings you to a better place, that in of itself is the best reward.

I know I am truly happy for all the things I've gone through to be the person I am today, and the person I'm becoming (since you know that's always a work in progress).

Thanks for sharing Dani!
P.S. I got some more awesome cloud pics recently too.

I have come to terms with my past and been able to move on through the help of my fourth, fifth and ninth steps. I can't change the past but can do something about the present. Thanks Dani.

Saggleo - Thanks so much for commenting on this guest post. It's important to address and deal with the past and then move forward. Ignoring it definitely leads to trouble. So glad you enjoyed this post -- and so happy to hear about more awesome cloud pics. Yay!

Syd - You're right about that: you can't change the past but you can do something about the present. That's exactly what I try to focus on every day and it really helps a lot. Glad you enjoyed this guest post!

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