When we cling to the past, it’s because we have little faith that the future might be beautiful, that it might surprise us, or that we might surprise ourselves. Sometimes the present is so uncomfortable, we simply know of nothing else to do but try to travel backward in time. After all, what was back there is familiar, even if it was painful. The future is not something we can predict or control, so for many people the idea of opening to it is terrifying. There are many, many people who’d rather hold onto their rage, resentment or grief than to nothing at all.
The truth is, the only potential the past has to offer is the chance to learn and grow from it; you can’t rewrite it or undo it. Holding onto anger, bitterness or heartache won’t get you anywhere good, it really, truly won’t and it’s not about being right or wrong, either. You may be totally right. You may have been wronged eight ways from Sunday. Your story may be rock-solid and still it doesn’t matter because what does it get you? You get to be right, and miserable, alone with your rightness. Being angry doesn’t feel good. It’s an absolutely normal emotion, we’re all going to feel it at times, but it’s not a good baseline feeling. You don’t want anger to be the bed you sleep in every night.
Whatever has happened, has happened. Those experiences may well have shaped you, but there’s no reason they have to define you. You get to choose. I hear from a lot of people who’ve decided all women are crazy, or all men are liars, or the world is a cold and unfair place. I understand the pain underneath a stance like that. You really have to suffer to wear that kind of armor, to steel yourself against intimacy, against being known or seen or understood, against the world at large, against the possibility of love, against your own humanness which makes you undeniably vulnerable. Binding your own spirit is an incredibly sad way to move through life, though, and it also denies the world of those gifts you alone have to offer. If you’re crushed by bitterness, if you’ve hardened your heart and turned your mind into a tight fist that won’t open to the potential that something beautiful might spring out of all your pain and knock you off your feet and split your heart open so you can feel love again, then you’re wasting a lot of time, and your time is precious and finite.
The noise of the mind can be deafening. Thoughts can be habitual, obsessive, and very weakening. Blame is a lonely person’s game; if you’ve decided things are as they are because of past events, the actions or inaction of people you loved or wanted to love, then you strip yourself of power. Whatever you feed will grow and strengthen. You can choose to feed your past and keep it growing right into your present, and you can plant those seeds for your future, too, but you can also feed a loving voice. You can forgive those people and those events of your past, and I do not say that to you lightly. Some people get so incensed at the thought of forgiving a person who’s wronged them, but you don’t have to tell anyone. You don’t have to call and say, “Hey, you know that thing you did? It’s fine, now.” Forgiveness can be a totally internal process. You might simply start to open to the idea that most people don’t set out to hurt you, any more than you’ve intentionally hurt the people you’ve hurt. Everyone works with the tools they’ve got, and some people could really use a whole new toolbox. It’s not a reflection on you. People can only be where they are when you encounter them. Some people are damaged by life, or have true sickness of the soul or the mind, some people have been so neglected they don’t understand what love is. Some people have had the love beaten out of them, and haven’t figured out how to recover just yet. So maybe you could open to that and let go a little. Put it down because it’s heavy and it’s blocking you. It doesn’t mean you allow yourself to be abused or mistreated. If that’s happening in your present, you need to get out and get busy healing, but if it’s old stuff, liberate yourself.
Of course this stuff will show up from time to time when you’re depleted, when you’re feeling particularly vulnerable, when something triggers you, and then you’ll have to work for some amount of time. Maybe an hour, maybe an afternoon or a few days, but if you keep feeding the love and opening to the possibility of something beautiful, you’ll have to spend a lot less time with thoughts and feelings that weigh you down.
Wishing you peace, freedom, and thoughts that strengthen you,