Past experiences, past relationships, past memories, past hurt… Are you letting the negative things from your past define who you are and how you react to the world and people around you, are they ruling your life?
Do you still need closure from a past relationship? Are you playing the role of a victim because you were bullied in high school? Do you have something in your past that you just can’t – won’t – let go of?
Some people naturally realize that past exists only in the past, they’re able to learn from it and to move on. Others tend to hold on to it, to play it in their minds over and over again – they can’t forgive people who did them wrong, or they can’t forgive themselves for doing wrong. Don’t do that to yourself – past has its place in our lives, but it’s no place to live in, and if you want to have a future – any kind of future – you simply have to let it go.
If you’re unsure if this relates to you, here are some signs that you’re stuck in the past:
1. Is your vision for the future based on what happened in your past?
For example, if you have a history of bad relationships – you ended up hurt for one reason or another or there were complications, if you now try to visualize a new relationship, what does that visualization look like? If the thoughts about what may go wrong or how things could get complicated again keep popping up, it’s a clear sign that you’r stuck in the past, in the pattern of expecting the past to happen again.
If you’ve been ill a lot during your life and can’t imagine your future without any illness; if you often had problems at work and expect that on the new job you will be facing the same or similar problems – you’re stuck.
What you need to do is to deeply realize right now that the possibilities are literally endless – if you stop imposing these limitations to your future, it can be completely different than what’s in your head. This very moment can be the one where you decide that your life will be different – you have all the power over this, and all of your future moments, so use it to create another vision of future for yourself!
2. Do you feel regret, resentment or guilt when you think about your past?
People don’t let go of resentment or keep reproaching themselves because they feel that if they let go of those feelings, it’d be like they’re endorsing what happened and that carrying this burden is somehow a sign that they strongly disapprove of it.
But forgiveness doesn’t mean that you’re absolving anyone of anything, it doesn’t diminish the importance of what happened – it just means that you’re allowing yourself to lift this weight so that you’re better able to live your life.
Whatever happened, that doesn’t define you nor the other person, it’s just another learning experience. And you need to accept it and to stop hiding from it or behind it – that’s not who you are, that’s just something that happened to you or that you did.
Now, you can keep saying to yourself that you have to hold on to these feelings for whatever reason, but the truth is that you won’t be able to grow if you keep imposing them to yourself, they will limit all of your future experiences and make you unable to become better, closer to who you truly are.
Your past experiences exist only in your memory – let them stay in your mind, but they don’t have to be your life!