I’ve written about this very topic already, but I feel as if I need to delve deeper. All of us have cringe-worthy pasts or memories from our pasts. For some of us, they still haunt us. And in a few cases, we are stuck in our past because we cannot escape the shadow of it. Let me clarify, for I’m not talking about people who refuse to deal with their past and are in denial, but people who have processed their past, but just can’t let it go. The way we are wired, we tend to hold on to bad things because that’s what we do. We have to learn how to change this process and a lot of how we think because it is not productive to our growth. It is completely natural what we’ve been doing for centuries, but it is not conducive to our souls.
What I mean is that oftentimes, our reactions and feelings are innate and something the majority of us would do without being told because we don’t know any better. If little children are molested, they tend to not tell anyone. When someone dies, we blame ourselves for not being there for them. When we hurt someone, we continue to carry the hurt. We need to teach children about sexual assault and that it is okay to tell someone. When someone dies, we need to acknowledge our own guilt and express the times we were there for them. When we hurt someone, we need to process it and move on, but that’s harder said than done because no one has told us how to move on. All these things are hard-wired into who we are, and it will take years before we can change how we think.
Here is how you can start. First off, if you haven’t processed the past, do so. That’s another blog altogether. Once you have processed it, know that you can never change the past. The past is what it is, but that is not the important thing. The important thing is how we FEEL about the past. We don’t carry the past with us, but we carry how we FEEL about it and that is what prevents us from growing. When you can change how you FEEL about the past, you will be able to let it go. You need to know that it is not healthy to keep carrying these things. It does you or anyone else no good to continue beating yourself up for actions that occurred in the past. In fact, the memory of it will continue to drag you down. If you can acknowledge that you are worthy of growth and a clean slate, begin to change how you feel about the past.
When you recall a bad memory, you feel guilty, shameful, or embarrassed of it. These are the memories we tend to hold on to the most. When we do this, we cannot pass the memory and it eats us alive. What you need to do is attach a good thought with it every time you bring up the memory. If someone died before you could be there the last time, remind yourself that you shared a great memory with them another time. This changes how you feel about the memory. Instead of feeling shame, you feel joy at the memory and it fades into your consciousness. You haven’t changed the memory, but you’ve changed how you feel about it. This also works for things you’ve recently done. If you’ve asked a girl out and she turned you down, you may feel embarrassed by it. Remind yourself of the courage you had to ask her out and the memory will no longer contain embarrassment for you. This will allow you to be able not be suppressed by the memory and be able to ask other girls out.
We’ve been hard-wired to react a particular way and the funny thing is that we only think we are doing it, when in fact, all of humanity generally reacts the same way. We need to retrain how we react and feel about ourselves so we can continue our journey. If we are constantly ashamed of our pasts, we will never be able to fully embrace who we currently are and move into the future. This starts with the knowledge that we deserve to be happy and have a clean slate.