4 Reasons why your past should always stay in the past
We all make mistakes, this is a given. The reason is that as we grow, we learn, and making mistakes is one of the best ways to learn something about life. We don’t believe our parents when they tell us that something will be a mistake, we need to establish this for ourselves. So, making mistakes is not a problem. The problem is allowing the memory of a mistake to hold you back from growing, in every aspect, personal or professional. This is why all that is in the past should stay there. Otherwise you will end up suffering from one or all of these five “ailments”.
So, you did something wrong ten years ago. It may have been a major blunder or something small but you can’t let go of it. Do you really believe that dwelling on your past mistakes could have any positive effect on your future? Being aware of the fact that you’ve done something wrong is one thing, it’s a good, healthy awareness and you can learn from it. Becoming obsessed, however, always stopping in your tracks when a similar situation arises around you, lest you should make the same mistake again, is really not a good feeling. Just because a certain situation reminds you of another one, in which you made a mistake in the past, does not mean that it will be an identical situation. Besides, what’s most important is that you are now aware that in that past situation you made a mistake, right? So, if you’re aware of this, you can consciously avoid making the same mistake, it really is as simple as that.
Let’s see the mirror image of #1, when someone else has wronged you. Again and again, as the years go by, you recall the time you were hurt and just cannot find it in you to let go of the pain. Self-pity is one of the most destructive feelings you could have. It immobilises you mentally and, given the time, can cripple you permanently. It’s a somehow comforting feeling, because you see yourself as an innocent victim. If you’re the victim, then you can’t be responsible for anything, can you? Wrong. You can and must be responsible for your own actions, including the decision to let the painful memory go and get on with your life. Sometimes the past mistakes of other people that have affected you require the help of an expert and if you believe you need such help, don’t hesitate to seek it. But if at some point you start suspecting that you’re turning into a self-pity junkie – perhaps someone has suggested something along these lines to you – take action and stop it, consciously. What’s done is done, it cannot be undone, and that’s it. Move on.
Dwelling constantly on the past, not just the bad times but the good ones as well, is unbelievably counterproductive. Life is not a state, it’s a process of moving forward, of becoming a better, wiser, ultimately happier human being. You won’t be able to do this if all you can think about is how things used to be in the past. It may have been great, or it may have been terrible, but the only thing that matters is that it’s gone. Cherish the good memories but don’t live for them. Remember the bad ones but don’t let them be your shackles. Your future is right there, under your nose, the world is moving, and you should be moving with it. There are so many new experiences to enjoy, so many new mistakes to make, if you like, so what are you waiting for, sitting and reminiscing about the past?
Being chronically insecure is what regret, resentment, self-pity and demotivation basically add up to. A haunting past is like a serious illness with a lot of symptoms and this is one of the worst. Parental influence is by far the commonest reason for insecurity but you know how the saying goes, once you reach a certain age, you can’t continue to blame your parents for how your life is going. What this means is, simply, that you need to put your past behind you, and take responsibility for your current situation. Granted, the world might seem to be a scary place but it’s not all scary. There are so many things to inspire and embolden you, you just need to look for them. The way to beat insecurity is to focus on the possible consequences of your choices. Ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen if I decide to do this, and then admit to yourself that the worst is really not so bad, after all, so you can take the risk.
The past can be a rosy place, full of happy memories but even these pasts are behind you. Having a good memory and taking comfort in memories is good when it’s done with measure. Living completely outside the here and now is painful, and that’s a pain you can spare yourself.