What to Do When Someone Close to You Holds Your Past Over Your Head

Everybody makes mistakes.

It's just a fact of life. Sometimes who you were isn't who you are. If you've experienced growth and moved beyond your past, there's no reason to feel guilty for who you used to be.

There are times, however, when you're ready to move on but the people around you aren't. Keep scrolling for our tips on what to do if someone close to you continues to hold your past over your head.

Understand the Effect

Before you get angry at someone for holding your past over your head, you first have to understand why they refuse to let go. In order to do so, you have to take a look at your past behavior and understand the effect. Even if you thought it had nothing to do with anyone else, it's possible that your past actions really hurt this person. If so, it makes sense that they're struggling to let go—they're having a hard time moving on themselves.

Even though you're ready to move forward, sometimes you have to take a step back. Examine your past behavior and determine if you hurt the person in question. By understanding the effect, you can begin the process of fixing it, allowing both of you to move forward instead of living in the past.

Mona and Hanna - Pretty Little Liars

(Pretty Little Liars via Freeform)


Make Amends

If you determine that your past behavior hurt someone, it's time to make amends. Address their pain and give them a sincere apology. While it might not fix things right away, it will allow their hurt to be acknowledged, which can kickstart the healing process. Making amends can also help you to come terms with your past and move forward with positivity, instead of guilt. It won't be easy, but it might be what you need to truly leave the past behind you.


Forgive Yourself

Sometimes people hold the past over your head not because they're hurt, but because they want to gain some kind of control or power over you. If that's the case, dealing with this person becomes a little more complicated. However, it's important to remember that people can only make you feel bad about yourself if you're giving them the power to do so. If this person's focus on your past is upsetting you, it's likely you haven't fully forgiven yourself for your past behavior.

It's time to cut yourself a little slack. If you know that you aren't who you used to be and you feel confident in the new you, forgive yourself for those past mistakes. Once you let go of your own guilt, you'll find that other people's attempts to make you feel guilty just won't be effective. Be confident in your position and no one will be able to bring you down.


Stay Strong

If someone is holding your past over your head in an effort to make you feel guilty, the last thing you should do is acquiesce to their behavior. If you were genuinely in the wrong, one apology is enough. If you continue to yield to their perspective, you're communicating that you're not in control. If someone is holding your past over your head to hurt you, the best thing you can do is stay strong. Don't agree with them and don't continue to apologize for the same old thing. With time, they'll (hopefully) realize that their words have no effect on you, and they'll drop the situation altogether. 

Veronica comforting Cheryl before Jason's funeral on The CW's Riverdale

(Riverdale via The CW)


Focus on the Now

It's an unfortunate fact of life that you just can't control what other people do. The only thing you can control is yourself. If someone continues to focus on your past, counteract their behavior by focusing on the present. Don't engage in a discussion about who you used to be. Instead, use every mention of your past behavior as a way to focus on your present growth. By keeping your mind focused on the now, you're controlling your own perspective. It won't fix their actions, but it will keep you in the right headspace to continue moving forward, instead of getting caught up in your past.


Reevaluate the Relationship

Hard as it is to hear, it's highly possible that your growth also means some changes in your relationships. In truth, some people are incapable of accepting the new you. It's possible that your new persona no longer suits their needs, or that they're just not ready to give up who you used to be. If that's the case, their attempts to hold the past over your head are more about pushing you back into old habits. If you like who you've become, it might be time to separate yourself from those relationships.

If you've tried to make your relationship work to no avail, it's okay to reevaluate the dynamic. You shouldn't surround yourself with people who make you feel bad. If this person can't separate who you are from who you used to be, it might be time to say goodbye. It'll be hard in the moment, but it opens you up to the possibility of finding people who will be more concerned with who you are now, rather than who you were in the past.


Looking for more advice? Click HERE for what to do if your relationship with your BFF has become purely superficial.