Do you live with the regret, bitterness, resentment, or guilt of a previous mistake?
OR do you mistake forward movement for past healing?
It's easy to point out the people who live on the extreme side of having the past hold their lives hostage. These are the folks who are angry, bitter, resentful, and guilt-ridden. But those people are not MOST people who actually have the past keeping their lives stuck. More than that, what's even trickier about this particular topic is the fact that wishing for a better past is an epidemic most people don't know they're contributing to.
Your life might look absolutely normal. You do what you have to do. You're moving forward step by step. Things are working out. You feel peace most of the time. Life is good. But what's underneathe all of that?
In the quiet, subtle moments of your life,
where do your thoughts take you?
The past's ability to hold your life hostage isn't measured by how much action you take. It's extent is identified by how much the actions you take are based on the wishing for a better past. There are ultra-successful people who think they're over a past pain who haven't even taken the time to both feel and heal it. Until you've acknowledged your pain and grieved your loss, the past is a bedfellow you won't be able to get rid of.
So how you do you keep the past
from holding your life hostage?
Here are 5 simple steps:
- Acknowledge and embrace the pain.
2. Grieve the death of a dream.
Every person has a vision for what they wanted life to look like. There's nothing wrong with grieving the loss of a past that wasn't what you had hoped it would be. Give yourself the room to cry over what never was. Own the fact that you had hoped things would've gone differently and accept the fact that they didn't. It takes time to grieve. This isn't a one day or one week or one month process. You have the right to grieve so do it.
3. Forgive yourself and others.
Forgiveness doesn't begin with the other person; it starts with you. You have to forgive yourself for what you did, didn't, should or shouldn't have done. You have to look yourself in the eye and remind yourself that you did the best you could with with you had. You have to be able to see the humanity of yourself so you can embrace the humanity of the other person. Forgiveness is an inside job that leads to an outside excavation. When you forgive yourself, you set yourself free...
4. Let it go.
The same way you can clench your first and then unclench it is exactly the way you let the past go. Every time a thought from the past comes up, you have a choice: hold on or let go? It may take you a thousand times in a day to let that past thought go but the more you do it, the easier it becomes to catch and release. If you're going to usher in a future unlike the past, you have to be willing to let go that which no longer serves you. Clench and release as much as you need to so you can let go what you have to let go of. Let it go...
5. Take one step forward... and then another... and then another...
Once you've let it go, it's time to step forward from an empowered place. People mistake forward movement with progress. You can move forward in the shadow of the past and, to everyone else, it looks like you're making progress... only you aren't. In order to make true progress, you have to let the past go and step into the place of being your most empowered self. When you can be who you might've been (no matter what happened in the past) and live and act from that place, you are now in a position to take one powerful step at a time. You don't worry about ten steps down the road. You are fully present in this moment doing this action and that is enough. Take one step forward, whole mind into present action, and then do it again and again and again...