Recently I have been reading a lot of posters on Facebook telling people to move on and leave their past behind them. Forget it as it cannot be changed. Why waste time worrying about it just close the door and move on. Concentrate only on the present and on the future.
This does on the face of it sound like good advice and many people repeat it a bit like a mantra but in my opinion it is falsely guiding you to simply close a door on a room full of clutter and pretend it doesn’t exist. Don’t get me wrong I appreciate that we all have clutter to some degree in our lives and we cannot always deal with all of it. Some we can accept and let go, the small stuff that is, the stuff we barely notice. I know also that we all would love to just close the door on the bigger stuff and forget our past mistakes, hurt, pain, shame, anything in fact that we still cringe or shudder when we think about it . The door is closed so we cannot see it. Really? I defy anyone who has tried this on a room, a cupboard or even a drawer full of clutter not to be constantly aware that it is still there and know that at some point it will need to be cleaned out. Even if we kid ourselves on that we don’t care, we still live with awareness of the mess and also often in fear of someone else seeing it and judging us for it.
Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher said “Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment”. If that is true and I believe that it is, how can we just close the door on a big part of what made us, who we are today and not learn anything from it? How can we possibly do that and find the present moment happiness that we want and deserve? Well we can’t do it by closing a door and never looking back, pretending it didn’t exist or is of no relevance to the person we now are. We need to learn from it first.
So how do we begin to deal with it? Well we can start by recognizing that everyone who has ever lived, including the most successful of us all, have made mistakes, have suffered hurt and have done or said things that they are not proud of . The most successful learn from their mistakes, face their past regrets and survive and thrive because they do. We are not alone in having a past that we need to learn from and so we should stop being ashamed by it. Stop judging ourselves harshly and learn to deal with it.
The second thing we must learn is we only need to deal with one thing at a time. It helps if it is the biggest box in the room as that will clear the most space quickly but it is okay to start small and build up. Sometimes we need help to do it and other times we can work away at it quietly on our own or with the help of family and friends. Figure out first what it is you need to tackle it successfully and start there. Also remember that no decision is written in stone. If you think you can handle it and it proves to be harder than you thought go get help.
When you think of that room in your brain and all its clutter remember that some of the things you will find as you clear it will be valuable and others worthless. If anyone judges you on your past ignore them, realize it is because they have not travelled as far as you or learned as much but at some point they too will have to face any mistakes or pain they have caused or have suffered. If you are judging yourself stop and take a look at how far you have come to be able to be at the stage of sorting out what it is you want to keep and what you now need to let go. Either way you are on the right path.
If we come across something that makes us feel guilty remember that we only feel guilt because we have learned something new from the experience. The learning of which mean that if we knew then, what we know now, we would never had said or done what we did. Recognizing you now know how to handle it differently and you would not behave like that again allows you to let the guilt go. Keeping it is not doing you any good.
If you feel angry or hurt learn something positive from the memory that will protect you from it happening in the future and let it go. T.D Jakes, Evangelist said “Forgiveness is about empowering yourself, rather than empowering your past”. Holding on to anger, hurt or resentment damages you far more than it could ever help you. Learn from it and move on letting it go.
Bit by bit clear out past clutter and free yourself to have the present day happiness you deserve. Shine a light in every corner, dust the shelves and feel free to move forward.
Aldous Huxley, the author wrote Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you.
Value your life experiences, learn from them and teach others how not to make the same mistakes. Show by example it is okay to have made mistakes and to go on and become a better person because of them. Then and only then, in my opinion can you truly close the door to the past and live wholly in the present.