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Ep #155: Flashback Episode: Healing Through Letting Go of the Past | Becoming You Again Podcast

We've all thought it about some aspect of our married life before: woulda, coulda, shoulda. In this flashback episode I'll be talking about my own experience of reliving the past over and over in my present day life and how doing that was creating more pain and suffering for me.

I'll teach you how to recognize when you're living in the past and how to let go of those painful stories to help you heal from your divorce by letting go of the past, learning to live in the present, and intentionally deciding who you want to be moving forward.

It's time to sift through the debris of the past, separate the facts from the fiction that our minds create and learn to recognize and rewrite the internal stories that color our perceptions and dictate our emotions. This is the path that leads to acceptance, self-compassion, and ultimately, the freedom to live fully in the present.

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Grief and trauma are the two biggest struggles women deal with as they go through their divorce. It's highly likely that you are experiencing both and don't even realize what you're feeling. I'm here to tell you that it's okay for you to grieve your marriage (even if it was shitty) and it's normal to be experiencing some kind of trauma (which is essentially a disconnection from yourself - your mind, body and soul). I can help guide you through the grief in all of the forms it shows up so you can heal. I can also teach you how to ground yourself in healing so you can ease through the trauma. Schedule your free consult by clicking here.

Featured on this episode:

  1. Interested in the Divorce Betrayal Transformation? Learn more here.

  2. Are you lost and confused about who you are after divorce? Don't worry. I've got 51 Ways to Get to Know Yourself Again. Click here to download.

  3. Want to work first hand with Karin so you can stop worrying about what your life will be like after divorce, and instead begin making it amazing today? Click here to schedule a consult to find out more about working 1:1 with Karin as your coach.

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Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to Becoming you Again the podcast to help you with your mental and emotional well-being during and after divorce. This is where you learn to overcome the grief and trauma of your divorce. We're going to do that by reconnecting with yourself, creating lasting emotional resilience and living a truly independent life so that your life can be even better than when you were married. I'm your host, Karin Nelson.


This week I am going to flash back to one of my greatest hits on the podcast, and I think for anyone who has started the podcast recently and who hasn't gone back to listen, it's a really important episode, especially when you're going through a divorce, because I'm going to be talking all about how to let go of the past, how to let go of the past and leave it where it should be, because we all know that when we're going through a divorce, it is very easy to relive our past, to look at those painful experiences and wish that we had done something different, wish that our ex had done something different, pinpoint where we could have shown up differently, and if we could have done that, perhaps all of this pain and suffering could have been avoided.


However, we all know that we can't go back to the past and change anything that has happened, and so in this episode, I walk you through steps to be able to let go of that past story. Let go of the wanting, the longing, the wishing, the hoping, the shaming and the blaming that we do to ourselves and to the other players in our past stories, so that we can let go of that suffering and figure out how we want to instead start living in the present and who we want to be moving forward. So, without further ado, I hope you enjoy a flashback to the past episode, which don't get me wrong, the irony is not lost on me. Here is letting go of the past.


So on to today's topic, which is letting go of the past. When we are struggling with something that has happened in our past and we can't seem to let go of it or move on from it, it's usually because we believe that this thing shouldn't have happened, or we tell ourselves some kind of story like I should have known better or I should have left sooner, I should have done something different to prevent this. It usually involves this word should right. This word should can be such a poisonous word when we use it against ourselves and when we use it against others as well, like they should be different, they shouldn't have done that, they should act differently. But it's this belief in this word that is keeping us stuck in replaying our past and not being able to move on with our life. And I'm going to point out all of the ways this shows up in today's episode, and I'm going to use an example from my own life, and this example doesn't have anything to do with divorce, although I know this is a divorce podcast. I know why you're all here, but I want you to see it from a different story so that you can see that this is showing up in our lives in so many different ways. But then I want you to take the things that I am teaching you as we go through this episode and use it on any past story that you are struggling moving on with. It can be your divorce. It might be something else. You can use it on any story about your past that you just can't let go of that you feel like is keeping you stuck, okay.


So a few years ago I had been asked to speak at a single women's retreat. That was at Sundance. Sundance is in Utah. You've probably heard of the Sundance Film Festival that's actually in Park City but Sundance is a resort in Utah, in one of the canyons in Utah, and it's a beautiful place. They have a ski resort in the winter that you can go to. There's lots of cabins and restaurants, and in the summer you can go up there and go hiking and biking and it's just a really beautiful place. So I was invited. This was February in Utah. I was invited to go speak at this women's retreat and I was speaking at like 10 in the morning, so I left my house that morning.


I live about an hour between an hour and an hour and a half away from Sundance and again, this was in February, so it's winter here in Utah and it started raining when I left that morning. And if you know anything about Utah, we have mountains and the higher you get, the colder it gets, and rain. If it's raining down in the valley, it usually means it's going to be snowing in the mountains. So I start driving. I get to Provo and I'm driving up Provo Canyon, which is where Sundance is located, and the roads are kind of slick, and so I'm slowing down. It's snowing hard, but it's still kind of scary, right? Have you ever driven in snow? It's not the most fun thing, right? It's nobody's favorite thing to drive in snow, let's just say that.


So I go around a curve and my car spins out and I did a complete 360 on the road, slide over to the side of the road, hit the guardrail. Thankfully there was a guardrail there, because otherwise I would have just gone right off into the Provo River, which would have been absolutely terrifying. It was already terrifying as it was the spin and the hitting the guardrail. Thankfully I was okay. I wasn't hurt. I had to have my seatbelt on. There were no other cars around me at that moment, thankfully, because this could have been really bad, right, but the only thing that got damaged was my car, which sucked. Of course that sucks. But also you know my emotions. I was pretty sad, I was scared, I didn't know what to do. I'd never been in an accident like that before. I called my sister-in-law, who lives very close to Provo Canyon, and she came and sat with me. While we waited for Tim to come and we waited for the tow truck to come, my car was totaled. I canceled my speaking at the retreat, which I felt very bad about, but also I was just in a car accident. My car was totaled, it was fine, she was fine with it, everything was fine, it turned out okay.


And for about a week or two after the accident happened, and literally until I got coached by my own coach, I was spinning in this story in the past. I was spinning in all of the things that I should have done different. I was spinning in. I shouldn't have totaled the car. This shouldn't have happened. It should have happened differently. I should have left earlier, I should have gone up the night before, I should have driven slower.


All of these thoughts and ideas were going on in my head, in mistakes that I thought that I had made, in ways I was trying to come up with, that I could have prevented this accident from happening. And on and on my mind was spinning about the past and I could not let it go. It was consuming all of my thoughts and it was very painful and I was blaming myself and I felt so terrible. I could not let this go. So as I go through this episode and I'm going to teach you what I learned about letting go of the past when I had my coaching session and I'm going to continue to use my example I want you to apply it to something in your past that you might be struggling to let go of. So the first thing you're going to do is you're going to write out your situation on some paper.


Either type it out. Write it out whatever is easier for you. Then I want you to go through it and either underline or circle everything that is a fact. So, with my situation as the example, some of the facts are I was scheduled to speak at a retreat at 10 am at Sundance. It was snowing, I was driving 40 miles an hour, my car spun and hit a guardrail. Those are some of the facts. There's probably a few others in there that I could pull out, but those are some. So that's the idea. You want the facts. And then everything else that I told you in my story about my situation were thoughts or meaning that I was giving to it. But I want you to do this exercise because you will be able to see what the facts are and when you can separate the facts from your thoughts. That is going to help you take out so much of the drama that is attached to your story. That is always.


Step one of being able to let go of the past is we have to be able to separate the facts from the drama that our brain is adding to the facts. Okay, and, by the way, when you do this, I don't want you to start judging yourself that you're being dramatic about your story. It's fine. This is a human trait. We're all dramatic in our stories, in the meaning that we make about things. We create drama and it's totally fine. This is not a bad thing. It doesn't mean that you're bad. It doesn't mean you're doing something wrong. It doesn't mean that you are wrong. But I want you to see that it is the drama that is causing a lot of the pain and the suffering and the spinning that you are feeling when you think about your past. So this act of becoming aware of the story that you're telling yourself is really important for your own healing. So after you do that, I want you to kind of notice where you're telling yourself the story of should. I told you some of my shoulds, but write out any sentences that are going on in your head where the word should is involved. I should have driven slower, I should have left earlier, I should have gone up the night before, I should have known better than to drive in the winter weather. I should have canceled once I saw the weather. I even had a story where I was believing that I'm just not a good driver in snow and on that thought there was kind of this thought in parentheses, as my coach likes to call it. I'm not a good driver in the snow, parentheses and I should be Close parentheses, right. Sometimes we have thoughts like that where, like I'm not good enough and I should be, or I'm not good at this thing and I should be. So that's where you can kind of take a look at what are these ideas of should that I'm telling myself in this story that I've got going on about my past. So notice where that is happening for you and write those out.


After you've written out your sentences of should stories, just pick one. We're just going to work on one sentence, one thought, one story that you're telling yourself about your past. It doesn't matter which one you pick, because they're all kind of leading you to feel something similar in the end, and when we can change one thing about our brain it usually will trickle down into the other areas. So we just have to pick one. Okay, we don't have to try and change them all or work on them all.


Pick one, and when you think that sentence, that thought in your head, how does it make you feel? I'm going to go into this in more specifics in a second, but I don't want you to get confused when I ask you how you feel, because our society gets very confused about this idea of how you feel. Our society has taught us that when someone asks us how we feel, we give them a sentence. But that is not what a feeling is. A feeling is a one word descriptor of what's going on inside your body. So, for example, if I use the sentence I should have left earlier, that's my, that's one of my shoulds right, I should have left earlier. And if I use society's way of answering the question, how do I feel when I think that it's going to turn into a battering ram of thoughts in my brain where I'm beating myself up.


So if I think I should have left earlier and then someone says how does that make you feel? Well, I feel stupid that I didn't decide to leave earlier. Or I feel like anyone who was smarter than me would have looked at the weather and concluded that it was going to be snowing in the canyon and probably leaving earlier would have been smarter. Or I feel like I made a huge mistake in even going in the first place. So, even though the words I feel are in those sentences, those are actually sentences. They are not feelings. They're just more stories, more meaning that I'm using to fuel my story, that I should have done something different, that I should have been different in some way. Okay, so I just wanna make that distinction.


So instead, when you think about the sentence that you've chosen, what is the one word descriptor that you feel? When I think I should have left earlier, I feel inadequate. What do you feel when you think about the sentence that you picked? Write that down. The next thing I want you to do is focus on the actions that you do or don't take when you feel that emotion inside your body.


Now remember, I had been spinning in my should story for about a week or two until I got help from my coach, and every time I thought about how I should have left earlier, I would then feel inadequate. But I wasn't feeling inadequate about my past. I was feeling inadequate in my life right then, in the present moment, because we don't feel feelings from our past. We can only feel what's happening in our bodies right now, in the present moment. So feeling inadequate every time I think about that and spin in, that thought was showing up with everything that I was doing in my life at that time.


Inadequacy is a sister emotion to shame, and shame makes you want to hide. Shame makes you believe that you are wrong, that you are bad, that you're not enough in some way. So I did a lot of hiding over those two weeks. I didn't show up for my business in the way that I normally would. I didn't do any marketing. I didn't do any teaching. I wasn't reaching out to potential clients. I wasn't coaching my clients in the way that I wanted to, because I was holding myself back from being fully authentic with myself and with them.


I was hiding in my brain, looking for all of the mistakes I had made in this driving situation and I was trying to come up with all of the alternatives that I should have done differently, which, when we think about it, isn't even an option Because we can't change the past. And yet knowing that understanding that we can't change the past definitely didn't stop me from trying to change this feeling of inadequacy. I was hiding in my relationships with my kids and with my boyfriend because I just didn't feel like I was enough. I was kind of retreating and pulling away. I wanted to be alone. I didn't want to talk to them about what was happening in my head and how bad I was feeling about myself. And I was constantly looking for more evidence in my past, in other situations of other times that I felt inadequate. And then I would just add those to my memory filing cabinet that I was keeping in my head of how inadequate of a person that I truly am and I was using all of that as evidence to continue to prove my story that I should have been doing something different. I'm inadequate.


So think about this in terms of your situation, when you think about your should sentence, and then you figure out how it makes you feel. What do you do or not do when you feel that and write out your actions. Just in the same way, I described to you what I was and wasn't doing and what was really going on for me that I was able to see after going through this work with my coach was that I was continuing to make the story of the accident be present in my life all day long, every day. For those two weeks I was letting it affect me constantly. Now, this is important because when I say this result out loud, it seems really obvious, right? I was replaying it in my head. I was continuing to live in it, I was making it present even though it had already happened. That seems very obvious, like, of course, if you keep living in the past and replaying it and telling yourself that you should have done things differently, then of course you're continuing to let that affect you now.


But even though it is very obvious to see, we don't often want to see it or can't see it. When we're in that space, when we're doing it to ourselves, when we're in the middle of the spin and we're reliving the past and trying to change it, in those moments it's really hard to see that we're doing this to ourselves. It took my coach pointing it out to me. It was almost like I was taking off a pair of glasses that just couldn't see that. That obviousness of me recreating my past for myself right then and I hope that this might offer you some peace to yourself of being able to remove those glasses and go. Oh my gosh, yes, this is exactly what I'm doing. I'm recreating the past for myself right now by continuing to live in it, by continuing to create all of this suffering for myself. After you've done all of the work and hopefully you come to this realization that the effect of this story and how you're feeling and how you're showing up in your life is having on your life right now.


How do we let go of the past? Because we first need to be aware of it, right, which is everything that we just did. So now, what's the step to being able to let go of that story, to stop this bin, to stop letting your past affect you right now, when you're present? To be able to let go of the past, you have to be willing to stop believing that you should have done anything different than what you did. You have to be willing to step into acceptance that the past happened exactly as it was going to happen. And the way that we know that that's true is because it is what happened. It happened the way it did. The reality of my situation with the car accident is that I left. When I left, I drove the speed that I drove, it was snowing, my car slipped on the icy road, I hit the guardrail and the car was totaled. It was always going to happen that way, because it did happen that way.


Byron Katie said when you argue with reality, you lose, but only 100% of the time. She's so right in that statement. When you argue with reality, you lose every time, and we do that. When we argue with what actually happened and we try and change the past, that is when we continue to spin and create so much pain and suffering for ourselves. So your only job here in being able to let go of the past becomes working on letting go of the story that it should have been different than it was. And I'm not saying this part is easy and that you can just drop the story right away and then move on. I'm not saying that that is easy at all, because it's not. I think most of the work that we do when it comes to being able to evolve and being able to grow as humans is learning to let go of the stories that we're holding on to that are keeping us stuck, that we're believing should have been different.


For me, letting go of my story that I should have done it differently was a process, and yours probably will be a process as well. I had to work on forgiving my past self. I was holding a lot of blame for her, that she had done something wrong, but when I was able to think about my past in this different way and recognize that it was always going to happen this way. Because it did happen this way, then I was able to stop blaming my past self, believing that I had done something wrong or that I could have prevented this in some way. I couldn't have prevented it. How do I know? Because it wasn't prevented, because it happened the way that it did.


Part of your process might involve some forgiveness for your past self.


It might involve some understanding of your past self and why you made the choices that you made in those moments.


And if that's the case, then think about it this way your brain always has a good reason for doing things in the moments that you do them. Think about ways your past self might have had a good reason for doing it the way she did Sometimes. Just having a bit of compassion and understanding for that past version of you will help you see things from a different perspective and will allow you to let go of your past so that you can begin to move forward. Let this process take as long as it takes. Healing from our past and being able to accept it and move on is going to be different for each of us, but it is possible, I promise you, when you can learn to accept what is and that it was always going to happen that way. Because it did happen that way, you will be able to slowly loosen your grip on the story that is keeping you stuck in the past, and you'll be able to finally let go of it, and move forward from there.


All right, thanks so much for listening. I hope this helps. I'll talk to you next week. Hi friend, I'm so glad you're here and thanks for listening. I wanted to let you know that if you're wanting more, a way to make deeper, more lasting change then working one-on-one with me as your coach may be exactly what you need. Together, we'll take everything you're learning in the podcast and implement it in your life, with weekly coaching, real life practice and practical guidance. To learn more about how to work with me one-on-one, go to KarinNelsonCoaching dot com. That's wwwkarinnesoncoaching dot com. Thanks for listening. If this podcast agreed with you in any way, please take a minute to follow and give me a rating. Wherever you listen to podcasts and for more details about how I can help you live an even better life than when you were married, make sure and check out the full show notes by clicking the link in the description.




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