How to Cope When You Want Your Old Life Back

How do you cope when your new life has begun, yet all you want is your old life back? These ideas for starting over will help you see your new life differently, and perhaps even help you stop wanting to go back in time.

Earlier today, I wrote an article called When You’re Forced to Move to a New Home. Then I received an email from a friend who said she can’t move forward. Nothing will help her stop wanting her old life back, and she’ll never be happy without her ex-boyfriend.

And right there is your first tip for coping when you want your old life back! Stop telling yourself that you’ll never be happy in your new life. What you tell yourself has the power to control your mood, attitude, and even your future. If you keep saying that you want your old life back and you’ll never be happy again, then guess what? You’ll never be happy. It’s time to accept that your old life is over, and start moving into a new life.

Here’s a comment from a reader who wants her ex-husband back, even though he betrayed her:

“I was married for 12 years and pregnant with my second child when my husband cheated on me,” says J. on 3 Ways to Turn Your Life Around When Things Are Out of Control. “He left me for this woman. I divorced him and a year later met someone else. We are now married and I love him dearly. The problem is I long for my old life and marriage. I cry a lot and feel like I maybe got into my new relationship too quick. I don’t feel I will ever get over what happened to me.”

Being happy with your life is a choice you have to make. You may be searching for quick tips for erasing the pain of losing your old life, but the truth is there aren’t any easy solutions. There’s only the choice to move forward, even when your heart keeps looking back.

3 Ways to Cope When You Want Your Old Life Back

I forgot to say something really important! I’m sorry for your loss, that you lost your old life. I know how hard it is to be forced into a new life when you just want to go home. You may have lost a family member, friend, pet, home or even a school…and it’s hard.

Letting go of the past is painful. But, it’s one of those difficult things we all have to go through. These tips may make coping with your new life a little easier…

1. Be specific about what you miss about your old life

Do you miss the people, places, or pets in your old life? Your lifestyle, routine, or schedule? Sometimes it helps to identify what specifically you’re missing. Instead of a vague “I miss my old life and want it back”, it can be helpful to think about exactly you miss. This might give you ideas for creating what you’re missing in your new life, which can help you heal and be happy.

For instance, I often think of my old life in Africa. I lived and taught there for three years, and after I moved home to Canada I felt hopeless and sad. I needed to learn how to hold on to hope when life seems hopeless – and I eventually did! But it was hard, and it took time.

I wish I could go back and do re-live my old life, but I can’t. So I started to think about what I missed about the past. I miss the feeling of adventure and excitement, of starting something new in my life. I was bored and uninspired after moving home. I wanted to feel alive again. Just realizing this helped me let go of my old life in Africa, and start moving forward into a fresh season.

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What are you holding onto about your old life? Feel free to share in the comments section below. You might find it helpful to share your memories and stories.

2. Bring parts of your old life into your new life

Can you include specific aspects of your old life into your new life?

How to Cope When You Want Your Old Life BackThis can be impossible in some cases, such as if you have to learn to live without a boyfriend you love. But you might be able to incorporate the feelings into your new life somehow. Maybe you miss the feeling of security and companionship of being in a relationship. It’s too soon to get a new boyfriend, but you may find comfort in the relationships you have with your friends and family.

When you miss your old life – and you can’t let go of the past – you need to find ways to comfort yourself. This involves figuring out what feelings or people you miss, and somehow bringing them into your new life. For me, this meant finding ways to be adventurous after I left my old life in Africa! Can you do something similar? Consider bringing aspects of your old life into your new one, as a way to console and comfort yourself. It may help you move forward.

3. Accept that you may remember your old life in blossomy ways

When we look back on our old lives, we often remember them as better and more fun than they actually were. We look back at the past with rose-colored glasses instead of the truth.

For instance, I often thought: Africa was so beautiful and interesting, and much more exciting than living in Canada! My old life was more fulfilling and fun than this one. Everything was better in my old life, and I hate my new life. 

It’s so easy to remember the best of our old lives and forget about the problems, frustrations, and heartaches. We often think the past is better than it really was. But the truth is, our old lives had problems and frustrations, too.

I bet your new life is better than you realize – even if it’s not your old life! Even if you don’t see it yet, I suspect you’ll find yourself loving this new life you have, and even blossoming in ways you never thought possible.

What do you miss about your old life? What’s your best tip for moving forward? Feel free to share your thoughts below…

Laurie's "She Blossoms" Books

growing forward book laurie pawlik she blossoms
Growing Forward When You Can't Go Back offers hope, encouragement, and strength for women walking through loss. My Blossom Tips are fresh and practical - they stem from my own experiences with a schizophrenic mother, foster homes, a devastating family estrangement, and infertility.

letting go book laurie pawlik she blossoms

How to Let Go of Someone You Love: Powerful Secrets (and Practical Tips!) for Healing Your Heart is filled with comforting and healthy breakup advice. The Blossom Tips will help you loosen unhealthy attachments to the past, seal your heart with peace, and move forward with joy.

miss him book laurie pawlik she blossoms
When You Miss Him Like Crazy: 25 Lessons to Move You From Broken to Blossoming After a Breakup will help you refocus your life, re-create yourself, and start living fully again! Your spirit will rise and you'll blossom into who you were created to be.


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6 thoughts on “How to Cope When You Want Your Old Life Back

  • Laurie Post author

    I agree that these tips on coping when you want your old life back weren’t very helpful! I wrote this article 7 years ago, and have learned a few things 🙂 So, I updated this blog post.

    Even so, there aren’t any easy answers or quick tips on coping when you want your old life back. The truth is that it’s hard to move forward into a new life – even when you chose it! But hopefully, my ideas will help a little.


  • Terry

    Good advice. I’m in that situation of missing so many aspects of my previous life, even the hard parts. With no family close by, it was a seismic blow when my elderly father died 3.5 years ago whilst I was processing the pain of my then husband leaving me. Then, life just seemed to collapse around me, with people drifting away and loneliness and isolation setting in.
    For a long time I felt powerless and not in control of my destiny. Very slowly I’m pulling it together again but it’s been really tough. I’m still unsure of what my purpose and I now have limitations imposed upon me, but I’m still hopeful of a wonderful life, catching up on the ‘lost’ years.

  • Magus

    Thing is when dealing with thoughts of an ex…and believe me I know. I was in a relationship for 8 years with my ex and we had a kid together whom I love very much. She however decided randomly she wanted to relive her youth again and cheated. I myself still have not fully recovered from it but the fact of the matter is that the best advice in such situations is just to try and blank out those memories. Instead, fantasize on a glorious future where it blows that old life out of the water and you finally meet “The One” who will make all your future memories much more pleasant than the old ones. I know it will be hard to forget, but you must try and let go of what is now a dead memory. All it will do is haunt your soul if you let it consume you. I myself had to endure the grueling prospect of forgetting her and what she did to me after considering her my best friend and that took quite a toll on myself before I managed to finally break free. I have not met another as of yet but I will consider the smiles and looks at much prettier girls than her that keep coming my way and may just settle down however as of now…I am enjoying the single life where I meet women and get to know them as well as dates and see how that comes about.

    As grim as this kind of sounds…The quote “The Past is Dead.” sit’s very well with me and actually relieves any attempted reoccuring past memory.

  • Laura

    Ahhhh I am so pleased I stumbled on these tips for when you want your old life back. I just left a career that involves a lot of travel to go into medicine. I was starting to feel as though I REALLY missed it, but couldn’t figure out why, as I was always desperate to leave. After reading this, I think it’s time alone, socialising, and new experiences I miss, all of which i can apply to my new life 🙂

  • Johanna

    I’m so sorry for J but then before being sad and crying she should think about her kids and her hubby who married her after knowing she’s having kids and all. I mean I know it must be very difficult for J to forget her past but why to remember a dark past ? Move on………….