How to let go of ”shoulds” and be at peace with your life

Being overly focused on thoughts of the past can bring up lots of painful emotions, including sorrow, regret, and anger. When you are overly focused on the future, thoughts of worry, anxiety, or uncertainty can arise.

There is a certain magic that happens when we are in the present…it’s that magic and flow that allows us to create our futures. 


Accepting everything as it is, is a meditation in and of itself. 

Being present, in this moment, is a powerful tool and important life skill and the best way to set yourself up for future success.

If there’s anything about yourself or your present reality that you don’t like or think you would be better off without…the fastest way to evolve or get to what you do want is the accept all of those aspects now as the way things are meant to be just for this moment.

Imagine that you’re driving a car.  It’s obvious that if you spend too much time looking into the rearview mirror you’ll probably get into an accident.

Looking into the rearview mirror for too long while driving is a metaphor, of course, for overly focusing on the past. There’s a function for the rearview mirror but it’s not our main focal point, especially while moving forward.  Refer to this analogy when you need help to stop thinking about the past. 

Understanding the Past to Allow the Future

Self-reflection and understanding the origin of our personal traumas and micro-traumas help us assist in healing our past wounds and identifying triggers. While it’s important to have a grasp on our childhood stories and past traumas, it’s essential that they not become part of our identity. It’s possible that if you focus on them too much, you’ll miss an important part of the healing process, which is letting go. 

“Today is a gift, that’s why they call it the present.”

How To Nurture Your Future:  

Transform Your Mind Through the Power of Words

Making “I am” statements is crucial.  If you say “I will” do something you are putting that into the future instead of invoking it into the now.  To create your life with your words 

Use these tools to help train your mind to let go of the past and nurture the present moment for a fulfilling future.


The #1 way to stop thinking of the past, (and my ultimate favorite) is literally, getting rid of objects and things that remind you of the past or bring you down. It might even be something comfortable like a couch you shared with a past love or an award you received for a job, yet, for whatever reason, it has baggage to it. I say let it go!

It’s not uncommon for a person after a divorce or break up to give away or donate all the items they shared with that person. Each object has a set of memories, and whether your consciously aware of it, those connections are there.

Clearing your physical space is essential for having a clear, balanced, and healthy mental space.  The Marie Kondo method from the book, “Spark Joy: The Magical Art of Tidying Up,” is the most effective method for getting those life-changing shifts that come from decluttering.  

If you can’t take on that whole process at the moment, at least focus on getting rid of any objects that weigh your life down.  

Remove anything and everything that brings up negative emotions or painful memories. I have a mantra “no mercy”, when advising clients to declutter. 

You can start room by room. But be methodical. 

Start from one corner of the room, look at or Pick up each item. Ask yourself:

  • Does this make me happy
  • Do I need it
  • Does it remind me of a place or time that makes me cringe or feel bad

Bottom line: If it makes you feel heavy when you hold it close to your heart, get rid of it.  The idea of decluttering to stop thinking about the past is the most effective way. 

Marie says nostalgia is not our friend and keeping a collection of items from the past chains us there.  Releasing these objects that are tied to our past breaks us free so we can stop thinking about the past.  

Do a “Letting Go” Ceremony

Letting go can be releasing painful past memories or grief. They can include letting go of a person who you are still energetically attached. If you need extra help releasing the past, especially if you are fresh out of a break-up, the end of or loss of a job, or any other major life event, doing a “letting Goπ” ceremony is just the ticket and often the best medicine available in these cases is time. There are a few ways to perform letting go of pain, and stop thinking of the past and releasing that which needs to be let go to move on.

  • Paper
  • Pen
  • Images that remind you of what you are releasing
  • Bucket to contain the fire or be near a bathtub or body of water
  1. Use the paper and pen to reflect on the situation.  Do some freewriting for a few pages. Express gratitude for what the situation as taught you or brought into your life.
  2.  Then, write down all of the feelings and memories you want to release and let go of.  
  3. Tear  them along with the images and throw away.
  4.  If you’re up for it, meditate after. Your mantra for this meditation can be sending peace and release to the situation and close the meditation with gratitude.

This is just one way! Another way is through water, as water is very cleansing. Next time you are in the shower, use a special soap that you buy for the occasion and use it to wash away the emotions that are no longer serving you.

There are so many different ways to release and let go and stop thinking of the past. The ones we come up with for ourselves are always the most effective.

Spend a few minutes looking at the beauty of nature. Maybe a flower…

My original idea here was to put meditation first on the list. But.. there are many ways to be in the now. Call it whatever you want, being mindful, meditation-focused attention…. It could be a meditation, but this one is slightly different. Sit still and focus on the object in front of you, notice all the nuances, the details, the color… looking at a flower for five minutes can be quite mind-blowing. (no drugs needed).

You will be placed in the wonder of the moment. It’s the most precious thing to see the awe of nature. Past and future will disappear.

It’s not the absence of thinking, it’s the practice of being able to be with all of your thoughts without reacting to them. Or just simply notice what is. This will place you in a state of no past, no future. Just the now embracing 

 Be Authentically You

Understanding core values and how they drive your mission that is your life.  If you don’t know what matters to you, you risk living your life for the wants, needs, and desires of others.  Say how you feel at the moment. When we hold back what we truly feel, we often set ourselves up for regret because we perseverate on the past wishing we had said what we needed to say.  

Ditch Your Shoulds

Live for yourself.  Don’t do something because societal norms suggest it’s the right thing to do.  Don’t live for your parents or even for your partner. This breeds resentment and toxifies relationships.  If you make choices based on your core values and desires you won’t be hung up on the past. Always do what makes you feel good and what you feel intuitively guided to do. 

Create a vision board

Though there is not exactly numerical science regarding vision boards, there have been numerous studies done in academia and other scientific industries that yield undeniable results.  By way of the law of attraction, what you focus on you create. Having the visual of your vision board every day wires your brain to draw the images into your life. 

The most important step is to get really clear about what you want.  Gather images and words that represent exactly what you want. If you want a white Audi, put a picture of a white Audi.  Put a picture of yourself in your dream job. If you want a certain lifestyle, put a picture of yourself one the vision board surrounded by images of the lifestyle. It’s easy to stop thinking about the past when all you see is your future becomes your reality faster than you imagined!

Endorphin regulating (ie exercise)

When you exercise your body creates and releases endorphins.  The endorphins interact with receptors in your brain to reduce pain and change your relationship to said pain.  They also create a similar effect on the brain as morphine creating a euphoric feeling and overall well being. Happiness makes it easy to stop thinking about the past!


For almost 30 years, I did something called “Morning Pages”. It’s journaling taught by the book the Artist Way. I did it every morning, rain or shine, healthy or sick. It helps clear out all of the cluttered thoughts from our minds.  By putting them out on paper it’s like physically removing them from the mind. Sometimes you write about the past and then you can stop thinking about the past and as you write about your future, you can also stop thinking and futurizing.  


Once the mind is clear and at peace with the present, it can more mindfully and peacefully create the future.  Scripting is a manifestation technique in which you write about the future that you want to create as if it has already happened.  For example, “I am so happy and grateful now that I have found my perfect life partner who loves being committed to me.” 

Forgive Yourself

If you blame yourself for elements of your past that are haunting you, it is so important to have compassion for yourself in these moments.  If this is what you are struggling with, follow these steps:

  • Find some quiet time to be with yourself, place your left hand on your heart and your right hand on your belly.  You can be sitting up or laying down.  
  • Say to yourself, “I still love you; I forgive you.”  
  • Repeat as many times as you need.


Make a gratitude list every day of all the things you are grateful for that you already have. Include at least 10.  Then make a list of 10 things you want to draw into your life by writing, “Thank you for my dream clients that are throwing their money at me to work with me,” for example. Saying thank you for them as if you already have them.  This will train your mind to be in the receptive mode and focus on the present and future in a positive way instead of the past.

Throw a Pity Party and Set a Timer

 If you must dwell and throw yourself a pity party, it happens, set a timer for 10 minutes.  Brood and reflect on your misfortunes for 10 minutes. When time is up it’s up and you can move on with your day and stop thinking about the past!  Take action towards something positive as soon as the timer is off.  

Focus on the New and Start a Project

There are several ways to build confidence, meet new people, and discover things about yourself that you didn’t know. All of which takes the mind and the body from the past to the present and the future.

  • Clean out a cupboard or a closet
  • Start a new hobby
  • Start a dance class
  • Start yoga
  • Learn a new skill
  • Take a class at a community college just for the sake of learning

Change Things Up

If you’ve been going to the same yoga studio, the same gym, the same restaurants, and the same social environments and you’re feeling burdened by bad memories of the past a change of environment is just what you need!  The energy of the past may be lingering in those places and the refresh of scenery will alleviate that heavy energy for you making room for new feelings and new experiences.

Know Your Boundaries

Unfortunately, we aren’t always able to cut toxic people out of our lives.  Sometimes we just have to learn how to have healthy boundaries. Having healthy boundaries prevents us from falling into our own negative patterns and stay in our best mindsets.  Allowing the same negative patterns to repeat themselves keeps us stuck in the past carrying it into the future.

Project and Expect Positive Outcomes

Attitude determines your altitude.  When we expect positive outcomes it makes it easier for the universe to organize itself around the best possible outcome.  It also makes it easier for us to see the creative solution or receive the gift when we are already in the mindset of expecting a positive outcome. 

Morning and Evening Routines

The secret to the success of those who found it is often found in their morning routines. 

Use any of the above or whatever tools you like that keep you mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy

Need some support?

If you could use support on how to stop thinking about the past and create your amazing future, I’m your coach!

As a Certified Professional Relationship and Success Coach, and a Certified Neurolinguistic Programming Practitioner, I specialize in helping you stop the cycle of self-sabotage.

Schedule a free consultation to dive into letting go of your past to create your future.