Why there is no point dwelling on about the past

by Sylvia

“How well have you learned to live, love and let you?”

Often we are being told that in order to resolve all our problems we will need to see a psychiatrist and resolve all our issues from the past. A lot of our ‘stuff’ has happened in our childhood and we will not get over this unless we really go into it and ‘work’ our way through it. I’m no longer sure if this holds true.

photo by by Grant MacDonald

Although I believed in that once (although I never saw a psychiatrist by the way) I no longer believe that that is the key to leading a happy life. I believe that it is much more productive to cencentrate on the current moment and make little steps towards what you want to be or achieve in life.

Why dwelling on the past keeps you down

You keep reliving bad experiences from the past

What good would that do for you? It happened in the past; it does not happen now. There really is no benefit in reliving bad experiences over and over again. Ok, you might say, but those thoughts or experiences come to me without me wanting it? This doesn’t mean, however,  that you have to dwell on those thoughts. Instead be aware of them and then choose and try to put yourself in another state of mind. This will take practice but if you are aware of those thoughts and know that they come from a past experience, then you are able to reason with yourself that this is NOT your CURRENT experience. Right now you can make different choices.

You may start to pity yourself

A ‘poor me’ attitude never got anybody anywhere. If you keep saying to yourself things like “why me” or “why did this happen to me” it does not let you move forward. Instead try to accept that it happened and be thankful that it is not happening right now. That was in the past. Today you can make your own choices and if you accept the past for what it is and that it is a part of you, you can move on.

You apply emotions from the past on current situations

A lot of your current reactions and beliefs were installed in you before the age of 7 “Give me a child of 7 and I will show you the man” is the saying. Of course there is a lot of truth in that. As children we learn for example if people are reliable or not. If we had a lot of experience back then of the people closest to us not being very reliable,  we may feel that in general ‘people are not reliable’. Thus we apply that particular lesson to the rest of our lives and to everyone. As an adult you can reason with yourself that a lot of the beliefs that you may hold are not necessarily true. You know that many people ARE reliable. Think of the statements that you hold true and that you probalby learned when you were young. And try to see the other way. Things are not always the way that you thought they were when you were young.

You don’t let go

The unwillingness of many to let you of the past is beautifully illustrated in the  story of the 2 monks Tanzan and Ekido that are walking along a very muddy road. They meet a woman who was trying to cross the road but the mud was so deep that she couldn’t cross it without ruining her beautiful silk kimono dress. One of the monks picked her up and carried her to the other side. The monks walked on in silence. 5 hours later Ekido could not restrain himself any longer and asked: “why did you carry that woman accross the road?; we monks are not suppossed to do things likde that!”. The other monk replied: “I put the girl down hours ago, are you still carrying her?”.

If you are a liitle bit Like Ekido how much ‘stuff’ are you still holding on to? How heavy does that feel?

Instead see the past as a big box full of memories. And use those memories to learn from them. What went well, what didn’t go so well? Use all your experience to make the best choices. Realise that all that happened is in the past but you are living NOW.

Use your learning and experiences to make the right choices in the present and move forward.

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