~ Article written by Shawn Dwyer and L. Michael Hall PhD ~


The past posts have focused on the subject of getting over the past. While this is not the theme, purpose, or essence of NLP, it is one of its well-known applications. The relevance of getting over the past is due to how many people are stuck living in the past. And when you are stuck in the past, you are not present in the here and now. And without being present in the here and now-it is difficult to seize the day, enjoy the moment, and positively prepare for the future.


Given that you know from the previous posts that “the past” is not a thing and not a place, but a concept of the mind, you know where freedom from the past lies. If “living in the past” itself is a way of thinking and leads to certain feelings, physiology, and orientation, then moving beyond that involves a new way of thinking. How does that work? The first (living in the past) works by remembering some event that previously occurred- and remembering it in a certain way. The second (living in the new with an eye on the future) involves releasing, forgiving, and focusing on the now.

Moving On

The previous posts have emphasized that to get stuck in the past, you have to keep entertaining your memory- the internal movie in your mind-of an undesirable event and code it so that you are inside it and re-experiencing it. Do that and you have a prison. To get beyond that, step out of that memory. Step into the now, step into a more resourceful state of mind-and-emotion, and observe it from a distance. To do that, you may need to release your desire (or ‘need’) to understand the past, figure out “why” it happened as it did- and decide “enough is enough, time to move on.”
If you start to adopt this way of thinking about what happened, you will learn how to get over the past and then beyond it. There are many other empowering beliefs and understandings that can help.
“The past events are past, experiencing it once was enough, let me learn from it and move on.” “Today will be ‘the past’ next week, next month, next year- I’ll focus today on doing the best I can to create the foundation for the best future that’s possible.”

Get Into The Present

Now you would think that getting into the present would be the simplest and most obvious thing in the world. It is for children and animals. But because you are a meaning-maker and because you need referents with which to make-meaning and because what you have lived through and experience makes up your own personal referents- you have a bias to assume that what you lived through and experience is especially real, determining, and controlling.
That’s the availability bias at work. You have it available and so you use it. You draw all sorts of conclusions (meanings) from it and you mostly do it with the cognitive distortions.

Thinking Like a Child

This means that to create a real mess in your live and to get stuck in the past, all you have to do is think like a child- personalize, over-generalize, awfulize, discount, etc. And if you want to make things worse for yourself- outframe all of that with some very limiting beliefs:
“The past determines the future.”
“People can never get over what happens to them in the past, they will carry it with them for the rest of their lives.”
“To get over the past, you have to go through it over and over and over and that takes years of pain.”
“What your parents did to you or someone else did to you contaminates you forever.”
That’s one choice and even though many people don’t know it, it is a choice that they make. They may not make it consciously, but they make it.

Another choice is to let it go.

It is to accept that bad and unpleasant things happen and to then let them go. You can make a decision that what you do today and the referent experiences that you create today will determine your future. Decide that what you focus on and the quality of your thinking is yours. If you don’t know how to monitor your thinking, you can decide that that’s the first thing you will begin to do- today.

Now while living in the present is a challenge

It is a challenge that you can meet if you so choose. That is, you can “lose your meta-mind of old memories and come to your senses” (to adapt a quote from Fritz Perls). You can learn to “be here now.” Fritz often said that Gestalt is the psychology of the obvious- referring to the obviousness of our senses and the obviousness of learning to really see, really hear, really sense the sensations all about you.

Come To Your Senses

NLP adapted this as it put a renewed emphasis on being able to use sensory-based language. Using the language of the senses brings us back to today’s reality- what’s happening right in front of you. It takes you out of the old trances and the old post-hypnotic suggestions that might lock you into the past. It invites you to step into the now- into what you see and hear in this present moment.
Are you looking for more? Contact Shawn today on 0439194323

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