Are you ready to learn how to stop dwelling on the past? Wanna let the past go and start moving forward? Get ready to learn 7 steps to really let go of the past for good!
Dwelling on the Past
Do you have something that haunts your mind? Your day is humming along, then that thing pops up again? If only it went away as quickly as it turned up. It’s that memory that’s hard to shake. The memory lingers. You try to busy yourself, but it doesn’t work. This memory distracts, discourages and leaves you feeling tired and defeated. You don’t want to, but you find yourself dwelling on the past… Again. Dwelling on the past keeps us chained to the past. Chains are not part of God’s purpose for His dearly loved children.Dwelling on the past keeps us chained to the past. Chains are not part of God's purpose for His dearly loved children. Click To Tweet
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” ~2 Corinthians 3:17
I get asked often… How can I forget the past? My answer? You can’t. You won’t. But dwelling on the past is different than recalling it. Dwelling literally means a place you take up residence. You post up there, living in the memory. Why do we dwell on the past? Most commonly, the object of dwelling is sin. Maybe it’s our own sin we can’t shake. The sin of others can have a profound effect on our lives, as well. And finally, it can be the random brokenness of the world around us that collided with our life.
Sometimes we fear getting hurt again. It’s possible that a lack of forgiveness keeps us circling the same hillside. Maybe you don’t know the promises of God or don’t believe they are for you specifically. Maybe the past hasn’t been healed fully.
Stuck in the past is right where the enemy wants you. See, if your eyes are on the past you’re distracted from the calling on your life today. Focusing on the past also leaves you robbed of hope for the future.
Whatever the reasons you find yourself dwelling on the past, know this…Dwelling on the past doesn’t heal the past.Dwelling on the past doesn't heal the past. Click To Tweet
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” ~Galatians 5:1
The Difference Between Dwelling and Recalling: A New Perspective
Dwelling is a place you remain stagnant. When dwelling on an unpleasant memory, feelings of discouragement and defeat show up. The longer you dwell there the more helpless you feel. You may start to identify yourself as a victim of circumstance with no control.
Recalling an unpleasant memory is lighter. As the memory comes into focus you can reflect on how you’ve grown since then. Your heart is full of gratitude as you look back and see God’s faithfulness. You’re reminded that you’re stronger now in every way. You. Are. Victorious.
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~1 Corinthians 15:57
Problems with Dwelling on the Past
- Dwelling on the past robs us of peace and joy now (1st Peter 5:8).
- Rather than keeping our eyes looking up, fixed on Christ, we shift our perspective to what is around us (Hebrews 12:2, Ephesians 2:10).
- We are not living in our God-given identity through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 8:17).
How to Stop Dwelling on the Past
1.Replace the negative thoughts (Philippians 4:8).
Dwelling tends to focus on what was lost rather than what was gained. Start there- make a list of what you learned, how you have changed and how you can encourage others as a result.
2.Renew your mind with Scripture (Romans 12:2).
God’s Word has incredible power (2 Timothy 3:16) for transforming our minds. Memorize His promises and recall them. Jesus used the Word of God when tempted in the wilderness to strengthen Him. We can also use God’s Word when tempted to dwell on the past.
3.Depend on God in prayer (Isaiah 41:13).
He delights to give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4) and always answers with a yes when our requests line up with His will (1 John 5:14-15). Entrust it to the Most High.
4.Honestly evaluate if there is an issue of unforgiveness.
Check out the complete guide to forgive here.
5.Refocus on gratitude (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
I love when research lines up with what God’s Word has been telling us. Researchers indicate that an attitude of gratitude can increase our joy by about 25% (more on that here). So make it a habit to count your blessings.
6.Sometimes the past hasn’t been fully faced, processed and healed.
Putting our painful past into words, whether in person or writing is powerful. It’s shedding light on darkness. Begin journaling to heal those past hurts and move forward.
7.Trusting God to do what His Word promises takes practice.
As we step out and trust God, we get to see His trustworthiness firsthand. Trust begets trust! Let it go and know God’s got this (Psalm 46:10).
Dwelling on the Past: Wrap-up
Dwelling on the past keeps us chained to it. There are many different reasons that keep us stuck in the past. But, dwelling on the past will not heal it. Instead of dwelling on the past, we can recall the past with a new perspective. It’s time to let go of the past and start moving forward. Here’s how…
Replace any negative thoughts with a new pattern of thinking. Renewing your mind with Scripture. Use the struggle to turn toward God in dependence on Him in prayer. Determine if unforgiveness is at the root of dwelling on the past and take action. Refocus on gratitude, giving thanks in the midst of difficult circumstances. Make sure the past has been fully faced processed and healed. And finally trust the promises of God as you turn away from the past and toward His promises.
Are you dwelling on the past? What will it take to let go of the past ad start moving forward?