Thought Catalog
April 27, 2016

You Don’t Have To Forget Your Past, You Just Have To Let It Go

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Danielle Drislane
Danielle Drislane

Your past is exactly what it is—the past.

The moments that have come before, the memories, the cities you’ve been, the mistakes and choices you’ve made. It is called the past for a reason. Because it’s come and gone, it’s behind you, it’s in the rearview, it has passed.

But it’s still important.

Some people think that you have to forget your past. Forget the ‘I love yous’ shared with a significant other, forget the painful memories associated with a lost loved one, forget the way you felt and the things you said, good or bad. But they’re wrong.

The past isn’t meant to be forgotten. In many ways, the past is meant to be celebrated.

This is what the past teaches us: how we’ve grown, what we’ve learned, the people that have shaped us, and the person we’ve become. This is important.

If you bury the past, you can’t learn from your mistakes, you can’t acknowledge your emotions, you can’t grow. No, you don’t have to cling desperately to your past, tie it like lead balloons to your ankles and hands. But you need to remember it, need to accept what it teaches you and how it can help.

You have to choose to let the past go,
but never forget it.

Instead, hold its lessons and happy memories close to your heart, let all that build you into an even better person.

There is no reason to hang onto past regret and pain. But there is a reason to remember it—to keep this from happening in the future, to protect yourself, to be aware. Yet, once all of this has been acknowledged, that regret and that pain…

let it go.

Drop the lead balloons. Free yourself from the baggage. Never forget the lessons you’ve learned, but don’t allow them to keep your heart bitter and guarded.

The funny thing about life is this: You will always have quirks that are reminiscent of your loved ones, habits from people who have left this earth, or thoughts that remind you of someone you knew, or somewhere you’ve been.

You will always be pieces of your past, little pebbles of every person you’ve ever dated, ever loved, ever kissed.

But this is what is beautiful about the past—it builds you.

And without it, you wouldn’t be the same person. So you cannot forget it, simply shove it aside, or pretend it never happened. Yet you cannot hang onto it so hard that your fingers and hands become bloody and raw.

You have to find a middle ground. A place of acceptance and remembrance, but a place of freedom. A place that knows who you’ve been but is looking ahead, looking forward to who you will soon become. TC mark