All of us know consciously why it’s not a good idea to dwell in the past. At least we say we do. Then again, some of us really do think it’s healthy to dig up the past, excavate our pains, constantly share them, and remain there- wearing the badges of honor that come with carrying around excessive emotional baggage. What about the old adage that if we don’t know our ‘history’ then we are doomed to repeat it? Should we not explore and feel the pain of our past? Should we not expect or desire those that have wronged us to come forward with remorse?
Continuing to recall the past, especially from a place of emotional attachment, has two very serious consequences- arrested development and lots of collateral damage. Then, why is it so hard to stop? Why is it that we think we have ‘let it go’ when we really haven’t? What is the collateral damage of spending too much time reliving what happened before? How do we move on from the past? Who ever said that we must grieve the past in order to be successful in the present or the future? What is enough acknowledgment of our history without it being an obstacle to our progress?
The truth is that the past really has no power over us, except for the power we give it. As with many things in life, we must nurture them to keep them alive. Usually we lament the past due to feelings of hurt and pain. In order to create space for ‘the living’ and be a vessel of life, we must strive to live in the present, so that our future has brighter prospects. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t mourn our losses, or acknowledge past traumas, and pains, etc. Of course we should.
Balancing the need to acknowledge pain and allowing it to consume us is tricky
Bringing pain to the surface and into our conscious awareness assists in stabilizing and healing our being. Often we must do this in phases as deeper parts of the pain continue to emerge when we are able to deal with them from a place of strength. Acknowledging and letting go of our identification with the pain helps to cleanse and release the lower, dissonant energy, making space for renewal. However, we must balance our need to playback and understand events with life’s requirement to go forth and create. We must get busy living or get busy dying as was said in the famous move Shawshank Redemption.
Once we perform the full excavation of painful memories, define them, and redefine them, it’s time to move on. Continuing to live the pain, place blame, and allow ourselves to be victims of these memories (or in worst cases, consistently speak of them with the people we know) causes us to stagnate and lose sight of our ability to create any experience we want in the present that doesn’t have to be colored by the past. It also causes us to shortchange new relationships and circumstances, as we seek to define those by what we experienced in the past. We render ourselves virtually incapable of seeing things as they actually are. We in effect arrest our development.
Living in the past causes a contraction in our view of life. We can only see the possibilities of what went before as a choice for today. In effect, we give up the gift that is a divine grace- a total rebirth each day we arise again from the dead to participate in life yet again. When we hold fast to past feelings of pain, disappointments, and ‘has beens’, we give up precious life force energies to feed the dead.
How long do we continue to feed the dead?
Now, how many of us would really continue feeding the dead, if we had a choice? Baring the terror of the actual thought, we know for sure that we cannot bring that person or entity back to life. We would likely stop putting precious resources into something that has no chance at redemption. Because the preceding metaphor is concrete, it’s easy for us to see the error in feeding dead energy with life energy. We must apply this same understanding to less concrete situations on our lives.
The collateral damage of dedicating too much time and energy to past dramas is profound. People don’t want to be around us. We lose your ability to see the current blessings in our life. We draw more negative energies to us. The pain of our past keeps us emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically unwell. We take energy away from necessary life pursuits, and are unable to self-actualize. We disempower ourselves from improving our experience of life. Our vibe is negative and we are often angry, sad, depressed, and unable to connect with the good things life has to offer in any self-sustaining way.
We have absolutely no power in the past. We cannot change anything. We can redefine it, make peace with it, and even use it to make us better people. We can even forgive those who harmed us by accepting that everyone involved was acting from their level of awareness. When we accept that folks who harmed us were doing the best they knew how, based upon where they were in their development, how can we really blame them? We also have to ability to accept the past and understand that it is the past that has brought us to our today. Our past pains are something that can be celebrated because it is in fact our suffering that catalyzes our healing and makes us open to the triumph of the human spirit. Even still, it’s that very pain that allows us to help others. Wow!
Have you truly let your pain go?
How can we actually know if we haven’t let the past go? We aren’t able to see the blessings that the painful events brought us. When we conjure these events, we feel negative, raw emotions or we tear easily. We are constantly finding a way to get back to a discussion of our pain. We are still blaming others. We didn’t forgive those involved and really move on. We are still looking for greater validation of our pain. The painful memories have been a cause for long periods of unhappiness or dis-ease in our life, tormenting us. We complain and are ungrateful for what blessings we do have. This can be part of a WIMS- a woe is me syndrome.
How can we heal our pain and move on to a brighter tomorrow? We can practice gratitude and forgiveness. We can resolve to no longer give lip-service to the memories. We can seek out the positive consequences of what happened to us, finding some indirect benefit. We can use the pain to help other people in similar situations who are likely to be able to relate to us due to our particular sensitivities. We can recognize that the pain has a destructive, suffocating energy that will make us sick, if it hasn’t already. As well, we can find positive things to involve ourselves in that enrich our life.
Butterfly Questions to Ponder:
1. What painful memory do I still hurt from?
2. How much of my energy or daytime wakefulness am I spending agonizing or recalling the events of this unpleasant situation?
3. As I recall these memories, how do I feel physically and mentally?
4. What 2 positive outcomes were a result of what happened to me?
5. Who can I help using my experience?
6. In what ways is my experience of life hampered by my inability to move on?
7. Have people shown displeasure with my expression of past events or have people commented that I needed to get over it?
8. In what ways am I feeding the dead?
1. The past is the source of all confusion. Author: Mikao Usui
2. I am grateful to be alive.
3. I can rewrite my experiences in any way I chose.
4. I will determine my present based on the here and now.
5. I am releasing all things that no longer serve me.
Tunisia Ali, Intuitive Life Coach and Reiki Master www.butterflytransformations.com