Psychology: Are you haunted by the ghosts of the past again? Let’s turn the tables – with these Ghostbuster strategies you can concentrate on the present.
There’s a certain smell that always catapults me into my grandma’s kitchen. This will probably be a mixture of fried onions, freshly washed laundry, and soap, but to me it means home. When the scent gets into my nose, it automatically turns into a feeling in me – and, as a blond, 5-year-old girl, I’m back on my grandparents’ windowsill.
I like traveling back in time. So when I read everywhere that one should live in the present, I stubbornly hold on to memories like this: I don’t want to. I don’t have to either, because what I mean by that is: The past doesn’t always have to mean negative things. Rather, many of our memories still keep part of our history alive.
However, if we lose ourselves too much in them, or if the negative feelings come to power, they take us, bit by bit, occupying our present and with it our future.
Because unfortunately it is usually not the positive ghosts of the past that haunt us at night, who stand next to us in times of self-doubt and uncertainty. But those who have shaped us in a different way. The spirits who know that everything was not always peace-joy-grandma cuisine. These can be people who have pushed us to our limits. We didn’t want to let go, but had to. Or mistakes that we made and still haven’t forgiven ourselves.
So the ghosts of the past can take on a variety of shapes, smells, colors and feelings. We like to have some of them by our side. Others prevent us not only from looking ahead – but from arriving at the present in the first place. Time to say goodbye.
5 psychology tricks to put the past alone
Sweet Reminder: You decide who you are and who you want to be
The past shapes you, you will find the cause of your problems in your childhood … yes yes, that may all be true, but now let’s take a deep breath and let the spirits rest. We don’t have to dig up our entire history for every hurdle today. That just means more work! Reflection is wonderful, but sometimes we also tend to give too much power to our past. Protagonist: in we are still ourselves, we determine who and how we want to be today and in the present we have all the tools in hand to decide for ourselves how we want to live in the future.
Clean out your brain
A lot of advice sounds so simple, but it means a lot of thought work. That’s why it’s about your hands now: Take a pen and write everything down. Letters to exiles. To people to whom we still wanted to say something. Anger, sadness, wasted hopes, just put everything on paper that you don’t dare to express. Sounds trite, but it helps.
Remember how it really was – not how you imagined it
Quite often I find myself missing a time, but rather the idea of it. Our brain likes to play tricks on us, we consciously remember positive things and ignore negative ones. If you have the feeling that you want to go back to the past, stop the film and interrogate yourself: Was everything really better then than it is today?
Learn to forgive – yourself and others
You can no longer change the past, but you can determine how you deal with it – and whether you want to let past mistakes determine your present, and above all your future. We all make mistakes. For real. All. And there is definitely something to the phrase that we learn from them. But that only works if we accept it and no longer judge ourselves.
Imagine yourself in 10 years
Do you want to remember your current phase of life in which you only filled it with the past? Build yourself a life that will be your future. Just ask the ghosts: Why are you showing up again? What do you want to tell me? And when we have received enough answers, we can be impolite and push them away. We’re too busy now living in the now. So that the ghosts don’t catch up with us again in ten years!
And a little tip last: There is a lot of advice to influence you and your psyche in a positive way. But there is nothing wrong with seeking help. After all, there are therapists for that.