Sometimes, it takes conscious effort to let go of a painful past. This might sound counter-intuitive because most people would think that it would be easy to let go of pain and uncomfortable memories. However, for some people, there is a strong relationship with the past. A person might not be familiar with what it feels like to feel well. He or she might want to hang onto the past because that’s all they know. It might be a part of their identity at this point.
Hanging on to Harmful Patterns
Sadly, hanging onto the past might also mean hanging onto to harmful patterns, such as drinking and drug use. If someone continues to identify with and believe in how challenging things have been in the past, he or she might continue to do everything to try to get rid of any associated painful memories and/or feelings. However, sometimes, the simplest solution is to choose to let go of it. To simply agree that the past is the past and there is no reason to continue to hang on to it.
Even still, for some, it isn’t that easy. It might feel difficult to let it go. If there is a long history of challenge and emotional pain, there might be too much identification with those experiences. For anyone who is ready to let go of the past but can’t seem to do so, it might be a good idea to work with a mental health therapist or drug counselor. In fact, if you’re still using drugs and alcohol as a way to feel better about the past, then working with someone who can assist you in getting sober is the first step. It will be difficult to try to let go of the past if you are still actively using drugs as a way to feel better emotionally.
Choosing to Let Go
Instead, the first task is to get sober and stay that way for awhile. This way, as you move through the process of letting go of the past, any cravings you experience will be protected by your commitment to sobriety. Also, if your drug use and/or drinking are fueled by a difficult past and it’s an unconscious attempt to harm yourself, then stopping the self-harm will facilitate the letting go of the past.
In fact, in almost any situation, getting sober and staying safe is the number one priority. Drinking and drug use can impair the brain, emotional stability, and physical health such that trying to achieve anything else might be a waste of time. Once you’re sober and you’re ready to let go of the past, you can do that by working with a mental health provider. Meanwhile, there are many addiction treatment programs that will also tend to some of the underlying issues that can contribute to drinking and drug use. Working with both an addiction treatment program as well as a therapist can further facilitate healing from the past, staying sober, and building a new life.