If you’re like most of us, you’re probably not truly aware of the baggage you’re carrying around with you.

Regret and sadness about relationships that didn’t work can drag you down, clog you up energetically, and prevent you from allowing new love into your life. It might seem harmless to spend time in the past, but it doesn’t leave space in your head or heart for the partner you’re seeking.

So today, I want to share three signs you’re holding onto regrets from the past—regrets that are preventing you from creating your ideal future.

  1. You talk about your ex-partner to friends, to family, even to new dates…or perhaps just to yourself. Talking about past relationships is a way to keep in touch with your memories, and keep those memories alive. If you want to find lasting love, you don’t have room for past relationships, too.
  2. You daydream and fantasize about being back with someone from your past. If you spend time daydreaming about situations where you and an ex-partner meet, spend time together, go on vacation, or recreate moments from your past, that’s a sign you’re not really over the relationship. And if you’re not over a past relationship, how can you hope to build a new one?
  3. You blame yourself for past mistakes. It’s only natural to feel guilty if you you’ve wronged someone, especially someone you care for. But going over and over it won’t do you—or your future love life—any good. As long as you learn from your mistakes, let them go. Leave them in the past where they belong. And learn to forgive yourself.

Let me tell you about my own path to forgiveness.

When I was in my early 20s, I dated and broke up with a guy. I went through a long period of clinging to him as a friend because we shared custody of our dog, and I thought of him like family (since my own was so small).

I also had regrets about how we broke up and blamed myself for the relationship not working out. Any time I was lonely or sad, I’d think about him and how tragic breakups were…how things can be so good and then turn so bad or untenable. Even years later, I still thought about him and wanted to get back together to try to make it up to him.

I felt it wasn’t his fault that the religion issue became more important to me. I started to romanticize about what was possible and wanted to stop feeling like the worst person in the world. And of course, since a lot of time had passed, the other elements that didn’t work in the relationship faded from my memory.

I was very self-critical and hard on myself. I couldn’t let go of the deep sadness and regret.

I thought back to the time before the break up, when my cousin asked me, “Why isn’t it good enough for you that he supports you and your religion? Why can’t you just be happy with that? He’s a great guy….”

But in spite of him being a great guy, we were so different, and I wanted my husband to be actively involved in the spirituality of our home and future children. And this, he would never be.

Even though our spiritual values were still different even years later, I tried to recreate the spark and make it up to him, because I felt so guilty. After all, he was a good person.

But in the end, things were the same.

He was a sweet and good person—but he still wasn’t inspired by the best parts of me, and the same was true of me about him. Being good people was not enough for each other.

So finally we said good-bye, and it was painful for me. But it was the right thing.

Because when we finally cut ties for good, he was able to move on and get married, and ultimately I forgave myself and made wonderful changes in myself and my thinking and met and married Michael.

Before I let go of my baggage, I wasn’t ready.

My first step to getting ready was discovering where I was holding myself back—and the Marriage Readiness Assessment was born.

Find out if your baggage is holding you back here. Then let’s see what we can do about dissolving those blockages.