3 Things To Remember When People Say “Just Let Go of the Past”

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“Stop talking about the past. You can’t heal when you revisit your past. Give it to God and move on.”

Have you been told to “just let go of the past”?

Has someone declared, in your hearing, that to speak of the past, to grieve your losses, to lament an injustice, or to feel the emotions is a “sign” you haven’t “given it to God and moved on”?

Let’s talk about what people get wrong when they say such things.

let go of the past

3 Things To Remember When People Tell You “Just Let Go of the Past”

1. You can’t heal what is not processed

For healing to occur, your body and mind need to process the painful experiences and emotions. Not avoid, bury, ignore, stuff or bypass. Process.

You can’t “move on” when your body has not moved on. You can’t “move on” when your circumstances have not moved on.

“Moving on” is an outcome of an authentic, compassionate process, not a place you force yourself into or a destination you magically arrive at. To “get over the past” requires processing the said past.

2. Attending to your circumstances and your realities are honoring to yourself

Paying attention is saying you matter, your experiences matter, your healing matters, your feelings matter, and truth matters. In doing so, you are also giving yourself these things that were likely not given to you.

3. “Giving it to God” does not resolve all the current pain and realities automatically

We love to bandy around this expression, but the reality is that this level of trust and surrender is an ongoing posture to cultivate, not a one-and-done act.

“Giving it to God” is reminding yourself of the presence of the Good Shepherd in your valley of the shadow of death. It is a spiritual practice where we return to a Person who refreshes us with inward calm while surrounded by fear, pain, disappointing realities, grief, or loss.

Since these occurrences are with us at different times and varying intensities throughout our lives (especially when we’ve experienced trauma and other life-altering experiences), “giving it to God” then is a daily even hourly PRACTICE.

When someone says, “you need to move on, you just need to give it to God and move on,” they out themselves as unsafe.


You might very well need more support and assistance than they can provide but pummeling you with these words, trying to hurry you along and ignoring what your body and soul are crying out for is in itself very harmful.

Indeed, when we’ve experienced trauma, deep losses, grief, and other life-impacting circumstances, we need to be gentle with ourselves as we process and heal.

And that means processing our circumstances and feelings in small bits at a time. Vs. diving into the deep end of experiences and emotions. (What is known as staying within our “Window of Tolerance.”)

But we stay within this window for the sake of our bodies, nervous systems, and minds, which are finite and can be overwhelmed. Not so we can project a “perfect” or “healed” image to ourselves or those around us.

Your turn: What can you add? Why is it important to not stuff the past in the river of forgetfulness but to instead compassionately, gently, carefully give attention to these hurting parts of ourselves as we heal? Lets talk in the Comments.

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