Updated: Dec 18, 2018
How does “moving on” happen?
How does something or someone in our lives suddenly turn into something or someone who used to be in our lives?
That is, how to we move things to the past tense from the present?
There have been songs written about this, because it’s a universal human challenge. It’s normal to feel this way sometimes. It’s human.
To move on we need to put the past into the past. We need to see it, celebrate it, notice what was once good. Then notice what wasn’t so good. And then notice it’s all, the good and the less good, finished and in the past.
Only then can we make a future with a different story, different people, different things, different ending.
There isn’t an easy answer to this. It’s only by not pushing it away but by starting to see things as they really are, that we move forward.
Looking objectively. The job, the relationship, whatever it is that we can’t have any more. Seeing how it really was instead of how we wish it was.
It hurts, because we have an optimism bias (O’Sullivan, 2015) and we want to see the good stuff. Optimism bias is evolutionary - we developed it to survive when we lived in caves. Even animals have an optimism bias (Current biology, 2011), because they too have evolved to survive.
We also want to remember the good stuff. We replay it.
Sometimes acknowledging that’s what we are doing, remembering the good stuff, then spending a short amount of time seeing the real stuff, can help to put it into the past tense.
It takes time and we have to be gentle with ourselves and not rush.
Once it’s moved into the past tense, then we can start to rebuild. Gently. It happened. It was all real. That was then.
Take a deep breath and walk through that door to the now.
O’Sullivan, Owen P. (2015). The neural basis of always looking on the bright side. Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences, 8(1):11–15