Three Practices to Release Your Past

Dear HRart Worker, 

For as long as I can remember friends have comforted me during difficult times with, “what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger”. During my studies of the Classical Oriental Teachings, I have come to learn that suppression of any extreme emotion becomes trapped in the body wreaking havoc in other ways. As part of my healing journey, I have been working diligently to purge my body of these toxic stored emotions and now find myself in a space where I am intentionally seeking the remaining past experiences that I’m subconsciously holding onto. 

I can understand that the concept of cluttering your body with emotional toxins is maybe not enough to motivate you to let it all go. We each have strong beliefs that these past experiences hold elements of us and if we release them, we’ll lose them. However, today I want to share with you three practices for releasing the past while holding onto the wisdom. This means letting go of the emotions but retaining the knowledge gained from the entire process. Difficult times serve a purpose; they are some of the most powerful teachers we will have in this lifetime. Therefore, my intention for all of these practices is to not strip you of that great growth that you have gained by living through it. 

I also feel called to share this message after coming to realize that those of us in leadership roles have held onto some serious stuff. Working with people on a daily basis is a blessing but also a gateway to some messed up trauma. It is this trauma that we use as a foundation for building walls that cause us to feel disconnected from our people. And believe me, I know this wall was constructed for protection, but I invite you to be open as you read the following release practices. Perhaps even commit to partake in one, letting go of something small to see what awaits on the other side when you are finally free.

Practice #1: Set it on Fire.

This ritual sounds extreme, but for me it definitely was long overdue. This year at our annual team retreat, I brought a collection of vision boards from the past eight years. I kept them believing they contained messages and reminders that I needed to hold onto, but in actuality what they possessed was stagnant energy that was only amassing over the years.

So how do you do this release practice? This one is pretty straightforward. You will take the physical item that holds the stagnant energy from the past, and you’ll burn it. However, before partaking in this ritual please do some research and ensure you are burning safely, this includes the materials you choose to throw into the fire. You want to make sure the materials you are burning do not release toxins or pollutants into the air, or create large amounts of ash that might spark and travel to create a fire nearby. 

A safe alternative might be to simply get rid of these items that hold stagnant energy. It’s time to no longer let these items take up precious physical space around you. 

Practice #2: Approach with Humility

This second ritual is an approach for tackling stagnate energy within relationships. This energy typically was built from an experience where you were emotionally unsettled in an intimate relationship yet remained silent. Often the reason why we allow it to fester or go unaddressed is because we have justified that the conflict is not worth it. We think that the potential process to find resolve or to simply be heard will require much more additional pain and consequence that is unnecessary. 

In these specific circumstances, we underestimate the toll the act of suppressing these emotions takes within. Once again we are taught suppression makes us stronger, yet our body, mind and spirit can only withstand so much. Therefore, what we are truly doing is accelerating ourselves to the point of full capacity. When this occurs, we begin to experience a variety of wellness concerns on several different levels. 

To release this stagnate energy, I recommend approaching the other party with humility. This practice evolved out of my constant fear that I would offend someone, so instead I entered the space of resolution deciding to take all the blame for the story I told myself. 

This practice is still not easy and indeed is super uncomfortable. However, it allows us to be our messy selves while releasing and also being able to take stock of how the other person responds. In all of these situations, when the other person is someone who genuinely cares and is invested in our relationship, they will reciprocate with a matching level of personal humility. Regardless of the response, the act itself will facilitate the necessary release and you will feel lighter. It is also natural to instantly gain clarity about the current relationship and the cause for the initial incident. 

This practice typically sounds like an outpour of emotions, recounting the past experience but from your sole narrative. Make sure you own any personal offense you took during the experience, expressing it as your understanding in the moment given the circumstances.

Practice #3: Open the Door Again

This final ritual is for those past experiences where you established a grudge. These situations typically can be easy right offs and are doors that you have every right to close and never walk back through. However, the simple act of grudge-holding compounded over time is the equivalent of unnecessary storage units in the body, holding emotional baggage that doesn’t hold any true significance. 

This practice is designed to unpack those storage units. It is also perhaps the easiest practice of the three. All that is required of you is to open the door again and be open to another interaction. 

See here is the thing about grudges, from a grander picture these interactions are merely the seeds of needed boundaries. Therefore, the reaction you feel in the moment is healthy. What you need to acknowledge is that the lesson from the experience is only that this relationship is out of alignment and does not serve you, therefore you have the right to walk away. Where it becomes dangerous is when we translate the action into a personal attack from the other party against us.

What I’ve come to recognize is that life is messy for all of us. We are all doing the best we can with the cards we’ve been dealt that day and these interactions are merely a collision of someone’s daily best being pretty minimal. It is understanding this concept that makes this practice powerful. 

As you open the door again, recognize that past circumstances were not a personal attack but someone unable to meet you where you were at that moment. Then invite the other party to interact with you once again and see if possibly their energy has shifted. There’s always a chance that now you could be in alignment and a relationship makes sense. Most of the time, you will be reciprocated with a similar response as before that will confirm you need to step away. Yet this time you will step away with a mutual understanding that the relationship is not serving and no grudges are required to be held. 

This practice of opening the door can be an email or text. No elaborate drawn out conversations are necessary. 


I think it’s important to reiterate that when we are stuck obsessing about the past, or even subconsciously trying to store all that trauma, we are unable to be present. 

That means that life right now is ticking by without your ability to fully take it in. It also means that it’s really hard to envision a future and sometimes we even lose our capacity to dream. Instead, the obsession with the past feeds an even bigger fear of the future. 

Choosing to release any or all of the past makes space for a better today and tomorrow. 

If you want to learn more about the impact that holding onto the past has on your wellness and learn how to release other toxic emotions, join me for our upcoming Disengagement Detox program starting on August 22nd, 2022. I’d love to see you there and understand what a privilege it is to lead you through this important healing work.


Samm (she/her/hers) 

p.s. This blog post was adapted from the Letters From the HRart fortnightly newsletter. I invite you to subscribe

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