5 Steps to Let Go of Your Past with the Healing Power of Storytelling

Never look back unless you are planning to go that way. ~Henry David Thoreau

I told my Mum that I had something very important to talk about with Dad. With tears running down my face I approached him and started with “Dad, I want to talk to you about your affair with that woman and how it has been affecting me for over 10 years now.”

Telling stories is not that easy especially when it comes to deeply personal things which we’ve been carrying with us for a long time being unable to voice our pain and fear. Opening up makes us vulnerable which is a challenging thing to cope with. That’s why so many people prefer to suppress their feelings and go with the flow. The problem is that the devastating power of untold stories grows within us year by year making us powerless to create the life of our dreams.

Since I was 11 I’ve been suspecting my father was having an affair with a woman who was his business partner, our neighbor, and my mother’s best friend. I remember myself watching their every interaction, trying to find the evidence of a betrayal in the way they greeted each other, the way they talked, in the looks and smiles they’ve exchanged. I sensed every slightest shift of the energy, the dynamics happening between them. I knew something was wrong. I remember how I was afraid to go to school and leave my Dad alone at home. Anxious and frustrated I was always expecting something bad would happen. That woman wasn’t happy with her family life and she wanted to steal a family from my mother. How sweet she was, how frequently she would bring me presents and try to sweet talk her way into my child’s heart.

I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl, I adored this man. We’ve spent long hours talking, walking in the park, watching movies together, playing the fool all the time. The day the truth was revealed to me I felt like the world has crashed. My suspicions were justified – my dearest and closest friend has betrayed me.

The emotional wound was ever since affecting my relationship with men. Subconsciously I was always alert when my partner would interact with other girls. I would feel anxious, frustrated, rejected and fearful of betrayal. And the worst thing was because of that state of alertness I would never be completely free to enjoy conversations with people around me, being open, feeling free, being Myself. I would almost shrink myself in a worry, fear and anxiety.

5 Steps to Let Go of Your Past with the Healing Power of Storytelling

That’s when I realized that my past should never again control my present and the power of storytelling has started transforming my life. All of us have our own skeletons in the closet and if you are ready to take control over them, there is no better way to heal than to:

1. Tell your story to yourself

Admit that you have an emotional baggage and that it controls your life. Decide at once that you are the architect of your own reality and you are not going to allow your past to hold you back from who you truly are and who you have the potential to become.

I’ve realized I had a tremendous potential to love, grow in love and help those next to me grow. I realized that if I don’t let go of my past I will never become the person I can be. All the great things ever created came from the place of love.

2. Share your story with your loved ones and your close friends

If people who are already in your life love you for who you are, they will still love you even when they get to know the darkest stories of your past. Some of them will need time to process what you’ve just shared but in any case, they will support you and moreover, they’ll appreciate the fact that you opened up and trusted them in the moment of the highest vulnerability. True love accepts shadows along with lights.

For me, things started sorting out when I allowed myself to be vulnerable and shared the story about my father with my partner. Everything that was bottled up for all these years just came out in an avalanche of tears, words, emotions and unbearable pain. I was blessed to have a person next to me who was ready to listen, hear, accept and help me go through this healing.

3. Get into details of your story on a paper

They say that paper doesn’t refuse ink. When you write down every tiniest detail, scene, the emotion of what happened to you in the past, you separate yourself from the story, it just stays on paper. Writing helps you live your story again, burn yourself down in the pain of the feeling that you’ve been trying to suppress for such a long time and be reborn from the ashes as the Phoenix.

I did it. I was typing and typing with tears suffocating me and I felt like I was back in those times, I was that little Alla again who was trying so hard to prevent the nightmare of betrayal to happen. After the writing was done I remember myself going back to bed with the feeling of emptiness. There was nothing. No pain, no fear, no happiness, no joy. Nothing. And that was a huge step to stop identifying myself with my past.

4. Talk to those who were the reason for your wound

It is the scariest thing to do but it’s worth it whatever the consequences of the conversation might be. Just face you fear. It is going to be liberating.

I traveled back home for just one thing – to tell my Dad how I felt. I’ve always loved him but the pain of betrayal distanced me from him and kept me from being a truly loving daughter. The conversation happened. I felt that I’ve always been loved and I learned that compassion for those who hurt you is another important step on your way to healing. So do not hesitate to ask, listen and hear those who hurt you for they have their own story to share and they also need to be heard.

5. Share your story with the world through art

To me, the biggest beauty of storytelling lies in the fact that telling your story is beneficial for both yourself and the world. When you’re telling your story, not only you are healing yourself, you also stop identifying yourself with it. The story becomes just a story and no longer a part of you. The magic starts when you realize that when sharing your story, the heavy traumatic wound of yours transforms into a lesson others can learn from. It becomes a gift you can give to the world. Write an article, a song, a book, do a spoken word poetry, shoot a short film (or a long one?). Do anything that feels right. Not only you will get your story off your chest but others will get an opportunity to learn from you, get inspired and free themselves from their baggage. Isn’t it beautiful?

How often do you use the present moment to think and talk about the past? How often do you use your past as an excuse not to do many of the things you would love to do? Share your insights by joining the conversation in the comment section below :)

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Alla Berdnikova

Born in the beautiful Ukrainian city of Odessa, Alla Berdnikova is a lover of life, an artist, a traveler, and a big believer in the power of genuine stories to teach, inspire and motivate us to live our hero’s journeys. An alumni leader of the international youth and leadership organization AIESEC who taught soft skills to students in Sri Lanka, Alla is currently working in Mindvalley Russia as an online business manager. She is also the founder of “33 stories, 99 tips,” an online-project on how to find your passion, discover your talent, and build your life around the things that truly matter.

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