How do I learn to let go of past problems and live one day at a time?

I would like to be able to have more positive relationships in the present.

Reid Stell
Reid Stell
Reid Stell Counseling

Staying present is an attitude most of us aspire to, and most of us have to work at it—certainly at first. I’m here to tell you that living in the now or being mindful is a skill anyone can learn. Unfortunately, the only way to do it is to do it. What a paradox! But there are plenty of other skills that we are not born with: walking on stilts, riding a bike, swimming, and driving a car are good examples. You can’t learn them by reading about them.

Having said that, I can recommend two books on the subject: Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and David Richo’s When the Past is Present.

Richo asks that we don’t beat ourselves up about dwelling on past events. This is nature’s way of reminding us that we have unfinished business. But while we are attended to the wounds and confusion that litter our earlier lives, we can prepare to inhabit the expanded present that awaits us.

He offers three helpful steps to making any important life change:

Step One: Hold in awareness the behavior, belief, attitude, or characteristic you want to change in yourself and how you want to be different. Awareness is the opposite of distraction and stuffing.

Step Two: Live as if you have already made the change. (This is hard and takes courage, but you can do it. Ride that bike—even if for a foot or two.)

Step Three: Be persistent. (Practice, practice, practice.)

Just as two-year-olds are able to walk confidently after hundreds of hours of practice, you’ll be able to stay in the here and now as long as you want after trying and failing many, many times.

 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

Would you describe yourself as sensitive to your surroundings and emotions?

If yes, this may explain why letting go of past problems, is itself a problem.

The dynamic of living one day at a time and letting go of past problems, is more imaginary and wishful than real.

It is a popular notion of TV, FB, and media.

Doing the letting go, has nothing to do with what is actually possible to do.

Problems are not "let go", they are resolved somehow.

Living one day at a time isn't possible for anyone who has consciousness.  No one can really disconnect from reality every day on which they wake up.

Instead of trying to do the impossible which is promoted online and in media, allow yourself time to recognize what went into creating a problem in your life, in the first place.  

Understanding problems leads to peacefulness and resolution.  Then you will have more freedom to make new relationships.

Also, be patient with this process and yourself.

If you have deep attachment to painful situations in your life, then possibly now is your time for understanding what went wrong.

This is a process which cannot be rushed if it is to be done well.

If it is done thoroughly, then you very naturally will bring new relationships into your life.

And life will no longer feel so painful that you can only manage "one day at a time" without hurting.  You won't need to forget what happened yesterday. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Lynda Martens
Lynda Martens
Marriage & Family Therapist, MSc, RP, RMFT

Hi Chapel Hill, 

I like your goal; research is telling us more and more that one of the most important keys to happiness is having healthy relationships. If we feel successful in that area, it can give us the confidence and hope to tackle anything life throws at us.

There are personal barriers we all have to having healthy relationships; it's our "stuff", our "baggage" (not a steam trunk, right...you have a cute little Gucci bag!). 

You hint that people may have hurt you in the past. Maybe fear says "stay away...hold onto resentment or you will be hurt again!". Resentment, or simply focusing on the past is certainly a barrier to improving any relationship. Learning to forgive ourselves and others is so important. And remember...forgiveness isn't about saying something was okay; it only means "It happened, I can't change that, and I don't want to carry it (anger, hurt, resentment) around anymore, so I let it go."

 Or...sometimes fear tells us that people won't accept us; this keeps us isolated for sure! But really, all fear wants is power over us. Fear is a trickster! It tells us that if we let go of the past, we will be rejected or hurt. It says "I'm trying to protect you!", but what it REALLY wants is to paralyze and isolate us all so it can feel powerful. Once you pull the sheeps clothing off of fear, you can see that it doesn't help you at all!

Once you see where your personal barriers are, and you start to refute those thoughts in your mind, you can begin to build new ideas about yourself and other people that are based on compassion instead of fear... 

  • Everyone deserves forgiveness and compassion.
  • No one deserves to be judged by their worst moments.
  • If I look in the rearview mirror, I can't move forward.
  • We are all beautifully imperfect.
  • I can't change the past, but I have the power to make the future good.
I wish you the best on your journey!
The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sonya Wilson
Sonya Wilson
Licensed Professional Counselor

Take one day at a time!!!  Each day do things that make you happy, moves to a positive place, focusing on the future, give you a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment.  Journal at the end of the day of how well you did that day in focusing on these things.  Each day should be a step better than the previous day.  You will have days that you didn't do as well....that is human and OK.  Just get back on track the next day....

At the end of the week, review how well you did and give your self a grade.  If did well, you deserve ice cream, etc.  If not so good, OK....tell yourself next week "got to focus one day at a time".  You can do it....it takes practice but will get better each day,  I wish you happy days and happy future...

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Angie Stones
Angie Stones
The future depends of what you do in the present!

Remember, the past no longer exists and the future is just an illusion as we don't know what will happen tomorrow, so take the present as your guide. That is all we can do, so keep saying this to yourself and try to help someone each day.  The happiness is helping others to feel a bit better.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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