Why Can’t I Let Go of My Past?

Why Can't I Let Go of My Past?

Letting go.  It sounds so simple yet is profoundly hard for most of us.  Try as we might we end up in the same cycle with the same feelings and then beat ourselves up for our inability to move forward.  This can lead to feelings of helplessness, anxiety, depression or even suicidal thoughts.

Understanding our brain is the first step to gaining awareness of why this happens.  Our brain has something called a “negativity bias,” meaning that it is primed to hold onto negative information more easily than positive information.  This helped us survive in more primal times, helping us to remember what factors in our environment to avoid.  So if we saw a bear in a particular area we would be sure to recall that and either avoid the area or be on the lookout.

Luckily surviving in today’s world is much easier and many of our threats are actually emotional ones.  Our brain has not caught up with modern living and still uses old navigation systems to get us through our day.  When negative events (emotional or physical) happen they tend to get stored in the part of our brain called the limbic system, which is responsible for our emotions.  Some negative events are difficult for us to process and end up getting stuck in this system, which often generalizes something negative to other things.

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An example might be someone who was told they were “stupid” after failing a test as a child.  This ends up generalizing to a fear of failure and a general overreaction if they don’t perform well at a task or make a mistake.  This person may also be sensitive to feedback and overreact if they perceive someone else might believe they are stupid.  A good indicator if you have unprocessed negative material is if you have certain things you go “0-60” about.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy is an effective way to change the wiring in your brain, therefore changing your response.  If you no longer believe something negative, you will act or react differently.  This can work on both extreme traumas or inappropriate negative beliefs that we can’t seem to shake.  So stop beating yourself up for not being able to “let something go” and try something new – try EMDR therapy.  It has helped me immensely in my own life and I know it can do the same for you. Why Can't I Let Go of My Past?