Life Lessons I’m Still Learning: #1 – You can’t change the past
There are many things in life I wish I had done differently or had gone differently, but I can’t ever go back and change or undo them. Whether it’s the hurt that people inflicted upon me or the hurt I inflicted upon others, there’s nothing I can do about it now. Even in those cases where making amends is possible, it still doesn’t wipe away the past. The fact is that I can only live life from this moment right now going forward. And yet too often when the next moment shows up, I kick it to the curb and instead indulge the past. I have to continually remind myself that the next moment is not for rehashing history but an opportunity to be fully open and responding to what is in the present. There isn’t a “back arrow” for life. You live the next thing… do the next thing… think the next thing… feel the next thing… accept the next thing… embrace the next thing… create the next thing… give the next thing… receive the next thing… be the next thing. Life is an emotional tug of war between all the things we wish away about our past, and the opportunity to create the life we want now.
Here are a few things to consider about letting go of the past in order to live in the present:
1. Sometimes our reoccurring focus on the past is a symptom of not being at peace within ourselves about it. Is there something on your side of the line that you need to do to make amends, process or finally let go of a particular situation from your past that you’re still holding onto or is holding onto you? Sometimes making amends is self- reconciliation or forgiving yourself.
2. Keep starting over. The reality is that all of us at times will be caught up in the sadness, sorrow, heartache, anger, disappointment and disillusionment of our past. The moment you become aware of it, start over in the present moment. Don’t beat yourself up about dwelling on the past. At the split second that you become aware of dwelling on your past in an unhealthy or unproductive way, stop and say to yourself, “Whoa! Okay, time to rejoin real life. I’m starting my entire life over right now in and from this present moment.” Keep starting over! How often you have to do this, even if it’s a hundred times in a day, keep starting over in the present moment. Your awareness of being in the past is now your new trigger or reminder for embracing the present.
3. Connect with your friends. Transformation rarely happens in isolation. Maybe you need to express some things about your past to a trusted friend as a way of clearing, letting go, and moving on. Perhaps it would help to share with a friend your desire to make peace with your past, and get on with living and creating your life going forward.
4. Consider entering into a season of deep growth work. I endured an abusive childhood that left some very deep wounds and scars. I’ve also had my share of trauma as an adult, including two near-death experiences. Heather suffered in a severely abusive marriage and victimized by domestic violence. All that to say, many of us have a past that haunts and impacts us every day, and isn’t going to go away easily. Perhaps it’s time to do some personal growth work with a counselor, therapist or another mental health professional in order to face, process, address and reframe your past. Even partnering with a good life coach for a time can make a big difference because we all have blind spots, and another pair of eyes can often see into us and spot things that we can’t see for ourselves.