5 Steps To Help You Move On If You Can't Let Go Of The Past

They said it (maybe on purpose or maybe carelessly), but you are responsible for healing yourself.

Still Haunted By Childhood Cruelty? 5 Steps To Help You Move On getty

We all know the saying "Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me." The adage tries to help us shrug off harsh words and learn how to let go of the past. It doesn't matter what someone says to you; insults are only thin air.

Yet, every single day I work with people whose confidence was crushed by someone else's words. Only, it wasn't the actual words that caused the pain, but rather the person's interpretation of those words. 


I constantly hear people recall the exact sentences a parent, teacher or important adult said that cut them like knives in their childhood. But letting go of the past isn't that easy. And I have a story like that. I bet you do, too.

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When I was a teenager, growing up in New York, I asked my dad to meet me at the subway station two blocks from our house. I worried about walking home in the dark. My father's response? (To this day, I can remember it exactly.) He said, "Who would steal you?"

Although many years later I realize that he was trying to reassure me that we lived in a safe neighborhood where there was no crime, what I heard was, "People only steal things of value. You are not worth stealing."


And here is why this story matters — because, in that moment, I decided that if my dad, who I adored, didn't value me, then no man would. I developed low self-esteem and worried about finding true love because I didn't believe that anyone would take care of and treasure me.

Perhaps it was the time when you were 9 years old and your mom said you look fat in your new swimsuit. Ever since, you've resented your mom and only see yourself as fat when you look in the mirror. And likely, your mother would be shocked to hear that you carry this story around in your heart. It was an off-handed comment made years ago.

I wonder how many of us ever intended our words to place such a curse on our friends or loved ones. Maybe the comment that devestated you was the phrase "You're just like your father!" For some, this might mean that you are brilliant, handsome, and talented. Others might interpret it to mean "You are a loser, alcoholic, and a deadbeat."

How sad. Do you have memories of hurtful words that have held you back? Has it ever crossed your mind that, although those hurtful words have felt like a torment to you for years, perhaps the person who uttered them doesn't even recall the interaction taking place?


Comments made casually, even carelessly, never meant to cause lasting harm. Perhaps now is the time to release yourself from the anger, learn how to love yourself, and let go of that so-called curse.

And one way to do that is with EFT tapping. Here's how to use EFT tapping to stop living in the past and heal those ancient wounds. Those words don't need to continue to be a plague in your life.

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1. Call to mind a past incident.

An incident when someone's words felt so hurtful or insulting that you have never forgotten them. Begin by tapping on the fleshy part of the outside edge of your hand below the little finger, focusing on the original memory. Remember the words said to you and how it made you feel.


2. Say these sentences aloud as you tap:

  • Even though when you said _____ to me and I interpreted it negatively and told myself  _____, the truth is: It happened, it is over, and I am releasing all of that, and getting on with my life.
  • When you said _____ to me when we were together at _____, I felt _____ (mad, sad, scared) and I decided that I was _____. The truth is: It happened, it is over and I survived. I now know that the real truth is that I am lovable and capable.

3. Start tapping.

Use your index and middle fingers to gently tap on the following acupressure points as you continue to remember your awful experience or upset emotions. Use one or both hands to touch the sides of your face and body. Tap each of the points for 3 seconds:

  • Crown of the head
  • Eyebrow: the beginning of the eyebrow nearest the nose
  • Side of eye on the bone outside the outer corner of the eye socket
  • Under the eye above the cheekbone
  • Under the nose
  • Under the lower lip
  • Under the collarbone
  • 4 inches under the armpit on the side of the body

4. Tap these points over and over again.

Get in touch with your feelings of anger, frustration, shame, guilt, hate, or any other emotion. Keep this up until you can remember that horrible moment without feeling any unpleasant emotion at all.


5. Repeat.

Then, repeat the saying from step 2: It happened, it is over and I survived. I know that the real truth is that I am lovable and capable. Use this method to heal any other past wounds and you will find yourself feeling happy and confident from now on.

RELATED: 4 Cruel Ways You're Hurting Your Partner (Without Even Meaning To)

Gloria Arenson is Marriage Family Therapist and Diplomate in Energy Psychology. She has appeared on national television on Montel Williams, Liza Gibbons, and Gary Collins as guest expert discussing the problems of compulsive eating, spenders, and addictive habits.