Friends, thanks for reading my earlier editions and now coming with me this edition of “My Writes – The Ways of Life”. This week we talk about moving forward in life while dealing with your past and especially unpleasant memories.
Time to let go of the Past
It’s like a monkey on your shoulder. It never goes off no matter if you are able to see it or not. It remains there weighing on you. It affects your decisions in the present and how you react to situations in general. We are talking your past esp the past which has not been very pleasant. It is not possible to erase your past from your mind and live with selective memories but you can learn to live with it and accept it as a part of our being. Your past is what has made you and every day that is passing is adding to your past story.
What is an unpleasant Past
The unpleasant past is a part of memory which is filled with events like tragedy, abuse, rejection, cheating, mistrust, poverty, struggle, etc. In the course of living, we come across people who influence us in many ways – they either inspire us, make us happy, nurture us, or take advantage of us. We cannot keep ourselves sheltered or protected every time from such people who hurt us. In our moments of vulnerability, innocence, or trust, we let such people take control over us and hurt us physically, mentally, or emotionally.
Life moves fast that if the hurt is not life-threatening, we keep moving along with life lodging the unpleasant episodes in the back of our mind. The unpleasant episode remains there for a day, week, month, or sometimes for years based on the effect it had on you. Any related incident in present or any discussion about the past can bring back those deeply lodged unpleasant episodes to the fore.
Understand your Past
If I ask you, “How was your childhood?” or “How were your growing up years?” or “How was the last decade?”, the first answer I will get will be either “It was good” or “It was bad”. And as soon as you label your past ‘good’ or ‘bad’, you paint all your past life with just two colors and then everything becomes either black or white for you.
When we look back and see our spent life, we categorize our life into only two categories – good and bad. But, is it the right thing to do? Can our experiences be only good or bad or shall we say, happy or sad. Just one change in how you look into your past can make all the difference. How about I ask you to categorize your past into various emotions or experiences such as Learnings, Mistakes, Immaturity, Ignorance, Innocence, Influence, Peer-pressure, Expectations, etc.
Categorizing your past into these emotions instead to labelling them as good or bad will help you understand the episode better. Calling any of your past episodes as ‘bad’ immediately signals your brain to feel sorry and you will become resentful even before understanding it better. However, if you define an episode as ‘How I survived bullying by my seniors’ will give you strength to look in to the episode with better perspective.
Why Should we let go of the Past
Letting go of the past does not mean erasing the past from your mind. It simply means accepting your past and looking forward towards the future. You need to let go of anything that is hampering with your present and is not allowing you to lead a happy life.
The unpleasant memories from your past are like one of those hidden ghosts who come to you when no one is around. They will talk with you and will keep bringing back episodes from your past for you to analyze and over-analyze. With time, these ghosts from the past become more persistent and refuse to leave you even when you want them to go away. These unpleasant memories need to be dealt with through analysis or consultation so that you can make peace with them and move on before they threaten to take over your present and future.
How to let go of the Past
- Be proud that you survived a bad episode(s) in your past. Be thankful to the people who helped you go through it.
- Analyze the episode to understand how it happened and how you can avoid such episodes in future. But, do not overanalyze thinking about how you could have avoided it. Get rid of ‘What ifs’ or ‘if only I could have’ as it will take you deep into the emotional well and it will be hard to come out of that well of thoughts.
- Be extremely careful about sharing your past with people who may not fully understand the seriousness of matter. Only share it with people you trust and who can help you move on.
- Seek professional help if the trauma is too much to carry along. A trained psychotherapist will be able to relive your episode in a safe environment and will equip you with necessary methods to heal your emotional wounds.
A Quote to End With…
My past has not defined me, destroyed me, deterred me, or defeated me – It has only strengthened me – Steve Maraboli