5 Reasons Dwelling On The Past Can Actually Help You Move On

by Ariel Sullivan
Alberto Bogo

Nobody likes revisiting the past. It can be daunting. Sometimes you replay conversations or arguments in your head. You envision everything you could have done in a better way and every word you could have said differently. Because you can't change the past, these thoughts become a bigger blip in your mind than they ever were in real life.

That's how things are with relationships. With every failed attempt, you dwell on every misstep and wonder what you could have done differently. Since you can't help where your mind wanders on a particularly quiet or rainy night, rather than agonize over these disturbances, know that focusing your energy on the past could have some benefits. Here are five reasons dwelling on the past can be a good thing:

1. It allows you to organize your feelings about these situations.

Even if it seems to take years to come to some kind of conclusion about your reasoning, you still have plenty of time to put your emotions in the right place. With enough time between you and old situations, you become able to discern your intentions and even your partner's. Were you angry your significant other didn't tell you about something important, or were you hurt?

Was he or she just trying to help, but didn't come across that way? If you lashed out instead of properly explaining why you felt the way you did, you'll be able to see how things happened in a way you didn't before. By being able to sort your feelings out, you can begin to understand them.

2. It gives you clarity.

Being in a relationship creates a narrow perspective that you often cannot get out of in the moment. You won't see what others see about your relationship, which includes a lot of the bad stuff. It's important to be able to take a step back from all your emotions and craziness to re-evaluate the situation.

Once you are out of the relationship, it's like all the dust clears, and you are able to see your relationship from the outside looking in. This perspective is especially helpful because you are able to see the relationship for what it really was, not what you hoped it could be.

3. The thoughts help you cope.

Once you can begin to understand your emotions surrounding your relationship, they can finally put your mind at ease. Instead of grimacing every time you think about that name you spouted at your loved one during a fight, you can file it far away in your memory.

Eventually, it won't make you feel as bad. You know it was only said in the heat of the moment, and that moment's gone. Once you can set aside the bad memories, you can start remembering the good. It is then when you can appreciate the relationship based off of the quality of time you spent together instead of obsessing over the small mistakes.

4. You can solve the puzzle.

Even a few years after a relationship ended, you may not fully understand what caused your breakup. There might some speculation, but during the end, there is such a big flurry of emotion that the real reason might not be entirely clear.

With enough time and enough distance from the situation, you begin to have a better focus on all the fine details. Once you've spent the time really concentrating on every piece of your relationship and have reflected on each moment, you are able to set aside the petty things and uncover the real reason that caused it all to unravel.

5. You can let go.

Getting over your pain takes time. It takes thinking about what's happened over and over again until you begin to familiarize yourself with it so you can let it go. Re-examining the past allows you to finally put the thoughts to rest, and (hopefully) you never have to revisit them again.