Learning to Live With Your Past

We all deal with it. Regardless of where you come from or how much money you make or who you choose to spend your life with, there is something in your past that you’re still dealing with today. It might be something minor that surfaces from time to time, or it could be something truly horrific that makes it difficult just to get up in the morning. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. No matter who you are, you are dealing with something from your past.

It’s normal to want to forget your past and just move forward with a positive attitude. This period of my life is marked by a desire to find a bright future for myself and my family, and dwelling on the past seems counter to that. Most people understand that you can’t find happiness by dwelling in negativity, but many times we try to push ourselves so far in that direction that we simply ignore the bad things that have happened to us.

The problem is that you can never truly get rid of the demons from your past. They are a part of what makes you who you are today, and because of that they will forever be entwined with your future. Were you able to somehow rip them out, you would no longer be who you are now, but someone quite different. We are shaped by the events we live through, and every one of them is important, good or bad.

The best you can hope for is to tame those demons to the point where they no longer control you. Like most things in life, this will not be easy in the beginning. You will struggle every day to get over whatever it is that hurt you, and no matter what technique you try, it will still require a monumental effort to just get started down the path of healing. People will come along offering a “quick fix” solution, but the truth is that healing requires time. Accepting that is the first step.

One of the great things about human beings is our ability to adapt to new situations and new routines. While it will require a great deal of effort at first, once you get started it becomes easier over time to continue moving forward. The pain lessens and the memories become more and more blurry. You see the light at the end of the tunnel and it draws you forward. The initial push in the middle of the darkness is the hardest, stumbling around blindly until you can find that far away light, but it gets easier once you do.

The temptation after we exit the darkness is to never look back, but we have to remember that the tunnel we walked was inside a mountain, and that will always be there on the road behind us. We didn’t want to go through that mountain, and we never want to again, so it is important to look back occasionally and take a good look at it to make sure we can recognize it when another one appears on the horizon. Part of healing is learning from mistakes and injuries, so fixating on the path ahead can sometimes cause us more harm. Remember to look back from time to time.

At the same time, we still need to watch where we’re going. Spending too much time looking back might cause you to stumble into another mountain you didn’t see coming. Balance must be maintained between keeping your eyes ahead on the path, and occasionally glancing back to keep the obstacles from your past clear in your mind. It’s not an easy thing to do, which is why so many of us struggle to figure it out, but with a little effort you can start to control your own path and avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future.

How do you feel about your past? Did you learn anything from it, or do you continue finding yourself in the same situations? What measures are you putting in place to make your life better from today forward? These are the questions we must ask ourselves if we are to have a fighting chance of making a better life for not only ourselves, but those who choose to share our journey with us.

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