How to Leave Your Past Behind — and Find New Love

By Guest Contributor Rachel Dack, MS, LCPC, NCC

finding love

2014 is here and there is no better time to leave your past behind to achieve a healthier, happier relationship now and in the future.

When it comes to relationships, the past can feel so heavy. Holding onto old hurts can actually cause physical stress, sore muscles, body aches, as well as fatigue and sadness. Take a minute and visualize yourself carrying the burden of your past — how much weight are you carrying around and bringing into your love life?

Not only is holding onto the past detrimental to your physical health, it can contribute to emotional difficulties and lack of fulfillment in the dating and relationship world. If you have not let go of your past, you may find that you want love, but insecurities or fears hinder your ability to date. You may be actively looking for a partner, but are struggling to make meaningful connections. If your old relationship wounds are unhealed or unacknowledged, they may sabotage your present relationships.

For instance, it is common to generalize about relationships. If an ex cheated on you, you may generalize that all men or women are cheaters and all future partners will cheat or betray you too. Operating under this belief gets in the way of being open-minded and trusting the many men or women who have no intention of cheating on you or leaving you. It can be helpful to view your generalization (“all future partners will cheat on me”) as a myth with no guarantee, permanence or truth. It is up to you to buy into this myth or let it stay in the past where it belongs. It is only true unless you believe it is.

One of the most healing and empowering ways to get over past relationship wounds and live a gratifying life is to be in the moment. If you notice your past creeping into your mind (as it naturally will sometimes) while dating or in a new relationship, acknowledge your thoughts and then intentionally bring yourself back to the present moment. Soak in your surroundings, engage with your date or partner and utilize positive self-talk (“I am worthy of great love,” “I have healed my past pain,” or “I am confident and in control.”). These strategies will help guide you back to your present life while decreasing the past’s power over your current reality.

Another strategy to help you find love in the present is to visualize your past wounds (from breakups, failures, previous relationships, unsettling transitions) in a jar. Collect these memories in your jar while visualizing yourself closing the jar tightly. When a distressing thought about the past occurs, collect it and imagine yourself putting it securely in your jar, separate from your present life. You can also make a list of past wounds and tear them up to signify that you are moving forward in a positive direction.

At any moment in time, you can choose to rewrite your relationship story to ensure that the past really does stay in the past. If you notice that you are constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop or living in fear due to past experiences, put a period at the end of your story and write a new one for your present and future. Fill this story with hope, love, healing and peace of mind. Write it with healthy intentions and openness for loving experiences. You might have been burned before as you faced the unavoidable difficulties of life and relationships, but you can take care of your heart and confidently approach love now.

About the Author:

Rachel Dack is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) and relationship coach, specializing in psychotherapy for individuals and couples via her private practice in Bethesda, Maryland. Rachel’s areas of expertise include relationships, self-esteem, dating, mindfulness, anxiety, depression and stress management. Follow her on Twitter for more daily wisdom!

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