Dwelling on the past is one of the worst things a person can do. It creates worry and anxiety; leads to depression and suicide; decreases quality and length of life; and negatively affects health and well-being. Not to mention it is also stressful and debilitating. These negative results of dwelling on the past are discussed below – which will hopefully help a person choose to take action to stop dwelling on the past – as well as information and guidance on how to do so.
Dwelling on the past, at a minimum, makes a person feel sad. In some people, this sadness can manifest in clinical depression. Depression carries many symptoms, including suicidal thoughts. It is possible that if someone is so depressed about his or her past and can’t let go of the past hurts, he or she could become suicidal. Dwelling on the past also causes worry and nervousness in some people – which is anxiety at a more intense level – because memories of bad decisions produce bad feelings in the present.
Dwelling on the past takes a physical toll on the body. The excess anxiety and stress raise blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes; impairs the immune system, which leads to more colds and sicknesses and causes ulcers and asthma flare-ups. Furthermore, stress and anxiety can decrease the length of life.
Dwelling on the past also negatively affects emotional health, such as a person’s moods, feelings, and general well-being. Inevitably, regret and sadness about the past lessen the quality of a person’s life.
How to stop dwelling on the past
The above negative results of dwelling on the past are reason enough, as well as motivation, to learn how to stop thinking about and viewing life that way. For some people, it may take prayer, meditation or counseling to overcome bad feelings about the past, but it is possible.
A person should attempt to let go of the past by forgiving him or herself and others; accepting past circumstances, by deciding to move on with his or her life; and lastly, appreciating the goodness in the present. In addition, affirmative self-talk can help a person train him or herself to let go of debilitating thoughts about the past and live in the present.
It is very important for people not to live in the past or let it bring them down. Life is much easier to deal with when burdens of the past are forgotten and focus is turned toward the present. People have less worry about stress, sickness, sadness if they live in the present moment, by taking life moment by moment. Letting go of the past will make a person feel “lighter” and is well worth the effort.