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Moving Beyond Yesterday: Practical Steps to Release the Grip of the Past and Thrive Today

Have you been feeling stagnant, unable to make progress in your life, or always worried about losing control? If you are, it is important to know that you are not alone. Many young adults experience difficulties moving beyond yesterday, which may be due to a variety of factors such as past experiences, trauma, or anxiety about the future.

How can I let go of the past and move on?

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The good news is that there are practical steps you can take to break free from the grip of the past and start thriving today.

Step One: Understand the Power of the Past

Past experiences play a crucial role in shaping our personality and identity. How we perceive and react to situations in our daily lives often reflects our past experiences. These experiences can have a positive or negative lasting impact on our mental and emotional state.

Sometimes, memories or events from the past can be so intense that they become deeply ingrained in our minds, affecting our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Certain events can trigger strong emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, and also, happiness or joy. The brain is wired to remember emotionally charged events more vividly than those attached to no feelings at all.

Past experiences may influence how you approach the future. If you experienced negativity in the past, you may feel anxious or worried about what lies ahead. You may fear that similar experiences may occur in the future, which can cause you to become hesitant or avoidant.

It's essential to acknowledge and understand the impact of your past experiences on your present and future. By doing so, you can learn from your past mistakes, heal from emotional wounds, and develop a more optimistic outlook towards life.

How can I let go of the past and move on?

Step Two: Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a practice that involves developing a deeper awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings in the present moment. By engaging in mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or simply paying attention to how you feel, you can improve your inner experiences and learn to let go of distractions.

One of the core components of mindfulness is focused attention. By directing your attention to the present moment, you can increase your ability to concentrate and avoid getting caught up in thoughts about the past or future. This can help reduce anxiety and stress, as it allows you to stay centered and grounded in the present.

Another important aspect of mindfulness is non-judgmental awareness. This means observing your thoughts and feelings without judgment or criticism. It's okay to reflect on past experiences. What's not okay is allowing them to shape how you feel about your future. By practicing non-judgmental awareness, you can become more accepting of yourself and your experiences, which can lead to greater self-esteem and self-compassion.

In addition to deep breathing and meditation, there are many other mindfulness techniques you can try. For example, you can take a walk without listening to music and pay attention to your surroundings. Additionally, you can practice yoga or engage in exercises that assist you in relaxing or staying focused. The key is to find a technique that works for you and to practice it regularly. By incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine, you can experience less stress and positive emotions in how you feel.

How can meditation help with identity and self-awareness?

Step Three: Challenge the Negative Thought Patterns

Negative thought patterns can be like a trap, holding you captive in the past and preventing you from moving forward. These thoughts can take many forms, such as regret, self-doubt, insecurity, and fear. They can be so powerful that they cloud your judgment and make it difficult to see the positives.

Breaking free from negative thought patterns is an important step toward becoming the best version of yourself. To achieve this, it's necessary to challenge these thoughts by examining them closely and questioning how true they are. Ask yourself if the thoughts you have are a true reflection of how you feel or if there's an alternative perspective that's more helpful. For instance, if you find yourself thinking that your past experiences will prevent you from creating positive outcomes, you should challenge that thought by reminding yourself of your past achievements and the potential for growth within and ahead of you. By doing so, you are allowing yourself to create better thoughts that align with your desired outcomes, diluting the power and fear of moving forward.

What are some mindfulness techniques for emotional stability?

Step Four: Practice Self Compassion

When you find yourself in a difficult situation or feel stuck in life, it's easy to be hard on yourself. You may blame yourself for not doing enough, not being good enough, or not having the right skills to handle the challenge. However, this kind of self-criticism only makes things worse. It can lead to a negative spiral of self-doubt, anxiety, and depression.

Practicing self-compassion is a powerful tool to break free from this cycle. It means:

  • Treating yourself with kindness and understanding, just as you would a close friend who is struggling.

  • Acknowledging that you're not perfect, and that's okay.

  • Giving yourself permission to make mistakes and learn from them instead of beating yourself up for them.

Self-compassion is not about letting yourself off the hook or being lazy. It's about being honest while also being kind and supportive. It's about recognizing that you're doing the best you can with the resources you have, and that's worthy of respect and admiration.

So, the next time you find yourself in a difficult situation, practice self-compassion. Remind yourself that you deserve kindness and understanding, even from yourself. Treat yourself like you would treat a dear friend, and see how it can help you break free from negative self-talk and find new ways to move forward.

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Which of the following mindfulness techniques do you find most helpful for releasing the grip of the past and thriving in the present?

  • Deep Breathing Exercises

  • Meditation

  • Practicing Self Compassion

  • Setting Achievable Goals


Step Five: Set Achievable Goals

One of the most effective ways to take control of your life and move forward is by setting achievable goals for yourself. By establishing small, realistic goals, you can build momentum and gain the confidence to tackle bigger challenges. Whether its as simple as completing a daily task or learning a new skill, achieving these goals can help you regain control over your life and create a positive outlook for the future. Remember, the key is to start small and work your way up - every accomplishment, no matter how small, is a step towards your ultimate goals.

How do I stop dwelling on past mistakes?

Step Six: Seek Support

It's crucial to remember that holding onto the past can weigh heavily on your emotions. However, it's not always easy to let go of past traumas or negative experiences. If you find yourself struggling to move on, don't hesitate to reach out for help. Whether it's talking to a close friend, family member, spiritual advisor, or mental health coach, having someone to confide in can be very helpful. By sharing your thoughts and feelings with someone who understands, you'll gain a fresh perspective on your situation, and receive guidance and support as you work towards healing and growth.

What are the benefits of practicing self-compassion?

Breaking free from the grip of the past and thriving in the present is possible with the right mindset and tools. Practicing mindfulness, challenging negative thought patterns, showing yourself compassion, setting achievable goals, and seeking support when needed, can help you take control of your life and create a brighter future for yourself. Remember, you have the power to shape your destiny, starting today, by focusing on what's happening, as opposed to, what happened.


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Dr. Amirah B. Abdullah

Amirah B. Abdullah, DrPH

Dr. A is a Mindfulness Coach with a passion for helping you build the muscle that influences everything you do. For Your Inner G is committed to helping individuals improve their mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being to support and encourage adulting success.

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