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Mind Matters | Letting go of the past

Mind Matters | Letting go of the past

Query

I am a 22-year-old student who struggles to maintain a healthy relationship, be it with friends, dates or family members. Even the smallest thing they do or say affects me and I start crying. I know this behavior is linked to my terrible experiences in the past. It would be of great help if I knew how to manage my emotions and get over my past trauma. I don’t want to hurt the people around me. —N.G.  

Answer by Krishangi, Counselor at Happy Minds 

Your past is what shapes you. So bad past experiences make you build walls around yourself as a defense against getting hurt again. Your past experiences probably trigger you in your current life situations, making you bitter to other people as well. This causes confusion among those people who are in your life right now. 

First, you have to understand why and what about your past is affecting your present. Take some time out for yourself every night to journal your feelings, write down the situations that have hurt you and how they affected you in the past and in the present. Once you become aware of those issues, your emotions will be clearer to you.  

When you become aware of what has hurt you and shaped you in a negative manner, you can slowly start working on bringing your wall and defenses down. You being guarded might have been helpful at one point, but it doesn’t serve any purpose now. If anything, it is only affecting your loved ones.  

You can start by breaking your wall one brick at a time. It is essential not to feel pressured in this process. You should know that you won’t be fine overnight. You might feel a lot of emotions, good and bad, while taking this step. Also know that being emotional is not a weakness; you can always use it as strength to overcome hurdles. Letting go of the negative past experiences can be a very difficult start, but everyday is a new day. 

Something very simple like talking to a friend, family member or a counselor about your thoughts might also help you process your emotions and see things with a different perspective. Bottling up your feelings can suffocate you from within, causing you to make rash or irrational decisions, which could push away your loved ones. I suggest that you share your thoughts and feelings. It will make you feel lighter.

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