I’m sad to confess my favorite song of all time is a song about being stuck in the past, called Nobody Knows.
I’m even sadder that nobody knows of this song.
It was a song that I played over and over and over in my life before I ever felt a pang of heartbreak.
It’s a song by a profoundly sad Tony Rich (at least I like to think so) regretting his broken love for a woman that he regrets not having in his life. He sings about how nobody knows the pain of his breakup except him.
You can watch the song here to know the depth of his pain and know what kind of a weirdo I am.
You might find this weird only because I had listened to this song thousands of times in college. It was the one song on repeat. The one song I played over and over and over again.
I listened to this song while I was up at night studying for finals. I listened to this song while I was sleeping. While I ate. While I talked about the meaning of life with my roomie James. What was even odder was that this was his go-to song as well.
Yet this post isn’t about what two single college-aged men were doing sitting around listening to a profoundly sad love song by another sad man.
Instead, it’s about putting something on repeat and listening to it over and over again.
You hear something, you like something and you choose that repeatedly instead of turning off the song and listening to something else.
Unfortunately, I came to find out a few years later in my life, as someone who was going through a divorce that I also tended to do this in another area of my life.
Since the marriage was over and the relationship no long existed, I fell into this sweet longing and remembrance of the past marriage.
I stayed stuck for years by continuing to repeat what had happened in the previous marriage.
I also reflected on the sadness and pain of the heartbreak and I enjoyed being in that place.
See, a powerful habit forms when we go through heartbreak that keeps us stuck.
You have these negative painful feelings of the past that over time become familiar and comfortable.
You become attached to the these feelings in the past and continue to ruminate on them.
Becoming familiar, comfortable and used to the pain of heartbreak can keep you stuck for months and years.
Holding onto past pain can keep you stuck and stop you from letting of the past relationship.
Pain can actually become addictive if it makes you feel good because it is a known and familiar feeling.
The habit of ruminating on past pain can become a habit that keeps you stuck for years.
You just want to hold on to this thing that is unpleasant (pain) but also feels good (familiar and known pain).
You feel connection and familiarity.
You feel familiar emotions.
You put it on repeat, turn it into a habit and become stuck in this place for years of your life.
The solution out is to acknowledge that this is in fact what your mind is doing.
To let go of the past, you have to be willing to let go of the known and the familiar.
Once you realize that you keep going back and taking comfort in the pain of the past, it’s time to break this habit.
To release the addictive habit of holding on to the past pain:
1) Acknowledge that your mind is replaying the past repeatedly.
2) Pin-point the thoughts that are creating these addictive feelings of pain and sorrow in your life.
3) Get clear on the underlying story about your past relationship that you’re telling yourself.
4) Work on changing the story you’re telling yourself about the past relationship.
5) Re-frame the past or generate new thoughts about the past that are healthier for you and cultivate more positive feelings.
6) Practice immersing yourself in new and unfamiliar feelings of peace and happiness.
If you’re addicted to past hurtful feelings, you might have no idea what healthier emotions and feelings may feel like.
I’m suggesting you try those on ahead of time, feel those feelings even if you’re not quite there yet.
If you’re good at feeling bad feelings of the past, it was because you’ve practiced it for years.
If you want to break free and move on from years of feeling bad and feeling stuck, try on a new set of feelings. Explore, experiment and try out something you’re not used to.
If you need some support in letting go and working through the insurmountable negativity of the past, I’d be happy to support you in this process.