I’ve come across a lot of people who dwell on the past not necessarily due to a specific experience but because they can’t forgive themselves for actions they took.
They can’t forgive themselves for making bad choices or letting themselves get into the situation, or trusting that person or letting go of that relationship or hurting those people or letting those people get away with hurting them.
They relive those moments again and again and again, giving the past more power than it actually has. It’s a really unhealthy place to be.
You probably started reading this post about a minute ago. That is now in the past. Of course you can go back and read the opening paragraph over and over in a bid to gain some undestanding of what I meant but you’ll never get to the end of my story.
This is what living in the past does. It traps a person in a moment in time that is exalted far above the hope of a better tomorrow – moreso a better now.
There are probably more than five reasons in support of forgiving ourselves but here are five I came up with.
- To Move on: There are certain laws that are proven. The Law of Gravity, Relativity, Diminishing Returns and, even, Attraction have all been tried and tested over time. Sadly Time Travel into the past is not one of them. We can’t fix the past but we certainly can determine our reactions today and tomorrow. It might take a while but we must be determined to move one. This is the paramount reason for me as I never want to feel stuck, like I have no choice.
- To be Honest: It’s important to acknowledge what you did or what happened to you. Sometimes we hold on to something without sorting out what really happened. Were you deceived, robbed, exploited, hurt, etc. Or maybe you hurt someone. Pause for a moment to articulate what happened. It really helps to write it down. There may be tears or anger but honesty is paramount. Part of that honest assessment might be to acknowledge you can’t do this on your own and seek the support of a professional who can help you come to terms with the past. There is never any shame in getting help. It’s a sign of strength and a willingness to change.
- To Take Action: The only way to move from where you are is to take positive steps forward. Sometimes a little change is all you need to move on. What little steps can you take to help you move on? Read a book on the subject? Pick up the phone and call someone? Make amends? Doing something good for yourself instead of beating yourself up? However little it may be, just doing something different is good enough. A starting point is to have an uplifting thought or text to visualise or recite whenever you find yourself thinking the same old way. If you do this often enough and consistently, you’ll retrain your brain.
- To Release Toxic Feelings: This is simply self-care. To keep going over a matter over and over again in your mind is not good for your mental health. It induces worry, anxiety, perpetual regret, self-loathing – which aren’t great recipes for a peaceful mind. Truth be told, there are enough toxic issues going on in our world so we don’t really need them inhabiting our minds as well. It’s just common sense.
- To Hope Again: Hope is an essential ingredient for survival. Without hope we give up. Living in the past robs us of our future and makes us feel helpless. To let joy into our hearts, we need to stop letting the past drag us back into the abyss of despair.
It is a frightful thought to know that life moves on with or without our consent or engagement. It is a shame that we sometimes sleepwalk through life rather than being fully awake to it. We are humans and we all make mistakes. That is just life. We can hold ourselves to ransom over it or live. There are only two choices.