Letting Go Of The Past & Getting Back Together

“I’m the the middle of a complicated, possibly-getting-back-with-my-ex situation. One of our biggest problems we had in our first relationship was my issue with not being able to let go of the past, and live in the now. I’m always wondering about my other ex’s, and other ways my life could have turned out. I can’t seem to let go of people, places or things. I know the only way he and I will be able to be in a healthy relationship again is if I get over all the “what if’s”, any advice?Also, what is your stand on getting back together with ex’s?”

The most obvious thing to me is that your email is all about repeating patterns. You were with a guy, but while you were with him, you thought about your ex-boyfriends. Now that he is part of the ex-boyfriends club, you’re thinking about him! Clearly this constant looking back you do has permeated your life in a fairly significant way.

Obsessing over the past has a lot to do with a fear of what the future might hold, & a fear of change. Moving forward can be scary, after all, because you never know what might happen. Unfortunately though, it doesn’t matter how afraid you are — time keeps slipping by, nudging us further & further into the future, whether we like it or not.

There could be any number of reasons why you keep looking back. Maybe you’re afraid of committing to someone or of being hurt, perhaps you feel like you’re not a complete person without having someone by your side, maybe you don’t want to be alone, or perhaps it’s convenient for you to reshape your past history (a story about the past is never completely objective — it can be easy for you to contort it into a situation where you are the victim or not at fault). Only you will really know the reasons why you do it, though it might take some time for you to work it out. The good news is that once you know, it will be like a big shiny key that you can use to undo the habit.

Don’t make it easy for you to slip back into your memories. This means put away (or get rid of) all old photos, love letters & mementos. It also means stop stalking their blog as well as their Myspace, Facebook, Twitter & Flickr accounts! Archive their emails & delete their number from your phone. This can be hard to do, because you feel like you’re severing a connection that might otherwise be fruitful or a source of happiness, but honestly, as long as all those strings & wires remain, you are only hurting yourself, & preventing yourself from moving on with your life.

Some people find it easier to break habits or patterns if they use a kind of ritual. One thing that can be effective is journalling or writing down your thoughts & feelings about your past love life, & then either burning or burying the piece of paper, & making a conscious decision as you do so to let all of that stuff go. Similarly, some people will jot down notes about the things they have difficulty letting go of, then put them in an empty container & bury it somewhere. Though it seems simple, the symbolism behind the act is what makes it so powerful.

You may discover that you have to be hyper vigilant to stop yourself from retreating into your memories. This could mean that whenever you find yourself reminiscing, you practise falling still or use EFT to change your thought patterns. Regardless of the method, you’re going to need to behave proactively — in other words, you’re going to need to want to change it.

As for getting back together with ex-lovers, there is no one blanket solution that works for everyone, but couples tend to break up for a reason — a reason that was significant enough that the relationship didn’t seem worth persevering with. It can be really easy to feel tempted to go back to someone else, especially if you’re feeling lonely or a bit lost in general, but it’s important to maintain perspective & not idealise the relationship you had. Obviously you (or they) left for a reason, so keep that in mind. Write yourself a list of all their terrible qualities & put it in a prominent place if it will help you quash the urge to call them!

If it’s been a really long time & you’re still thinking about them & wanting to get back together with them, consider the circumstances of the break-up & then devote serious time to thinking about how you could both remedy whatever went wrong. If you get back together without doing this, odds are extremely good that the relationship will dissolve soon after due to the problems you had the first time around. This is otherwise known as a huge waste of time & the build-up to a big “duh!” moment! Someone who didn’t communicate isn’t going to suddenly start unless something significant changes, mismatched libidos are pretty much always going to be a problem, & if your ex didn’t respect you before, why would he start now?

You can certainly make enormous strides with couples counselling, EFT or any number of other solutions, but obviously, both people need to be seriously invested in working together to make change, & it can take time, so you need to be sure.

Having said all this, it’s pretty standard to have an ex (or a past relationship) which you use as a yardstick in future relationships. Some people make a major impact on you which never really leaves you. So that’s normal — but not necessarily the sort of thing you should tell your future lovers about!

The main thing to remember is that you should do what genuinely makes you happy. Don’t just react to your life’s circumstances, actually go out there & actively seek out things which really work for you. If you suspect — even a little bit! — that you want to get back together with an ex just because you’re lonely or crave familiarity, do yourself a favour & remove yourself from the situation! That’s not fair on them & hardly a recipe for your own happiness.

Being single might be the absolute best thing for you right now. If the idea of that frightens you, that’s even more reason to embrace it with gusto. Fingers crossed that it gives you the strength & desire to move forward & be excited about your future!

Extra For Experts:
Exercises for letting go of the past. “I do not trust life to lead me, and so I order my life based on my own perspectives of what the past was, and what the future should be.” Awesome.
Letting Go Of Your Past: How To Deal With Your Mistakes & Move On from suite101.com.
The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle — otherwise known as the ultimate book about being in the present.