Past is something that has gone by in time and no longer exists. But a lot of people still reside there, in the past. They tend to carry a lot of their past events, relationships, anger, shame, hurt and so on in the present, and keep on repenting over it every now and then. Also, there are people who are still cherishing their moments of greatness of the past.
I’m not saying that it’s right or wrong. Just retrospect and ask yourself this question – Do I spend a lot of my present time thinking about what happened in the past?
Past does not necessarily mean something that has happened 2-3 years ago, it could be anything that has happened just yesterday or maybe this morning.
You might be thinking that I don’t know what you’ve been through or what a legend you are. Yeah, I don’t. But I request you to take the article with reference to a past event/moment of your life which occupies a lot of your mind-space and just give a thought to what you read ahead in this article.
So, what about the past?
Let’s think of the events/moments of the past as empowering and disempowering.
Thinking about the empowering past makes you feels good about yourself. It makes you feel stronger and more confident, especially in controlling your life and/or claiming what you rightly deserve. For example – Your glorious wins at different competitions, your marvellous academic grades, your immensely appreciated work-performance, etc.
On the other hand, thinking about the disempowering past is something that makes you lose power, authority or influence over your life. It makes you feel vulnerable and depressed, makes you doubt yourself. For example – You lost a loved one (maybe a divorce, break-up, or death), you failed an important exam, your consistently poor performance at the workplace, etc.
Let’s take one at a time.
The empowering past
Thinking about the empowering past sure does make you feel awesome! But how good is it doing to you present?
Your success in the past increases your self-assurance. Faith in own self is definitely a good thing, but too much of it might (falsely) lead you to believe that nothing in you needs to be changed.
It is a human tendency to not investigate the causes of a good performance systematically. You don’t ask yourself tough questions that might help you know the real reason for your successful past performance. As a result, you might keep your knowledge from expanding. And, you might stick to that rigid way of doing things, to achieve success each time (which may not always work).
You stop growing, stop expanding as a result of success. You lose that fight, that hunger you had prior to achieving the success. And, your past success will soon make you a big failure in the present.
To prevent this failure, you have to break out of that bubble of your past greatness/success. Your past maybe a good place to visit, but not a good place to stay. You succeeded once. Doesn’t mean you always will. Succeeding once doesn’t make you a legend for life. It takes perseverance to stay there.
However, if you can do it once, why not again? Succeed again. And again. And again. Make it a habit!
And how is that possible? Evaluate your present as a new situation (independent of your past, because every situation is not identical), and perform to your best every single time. Don’t let your confidence be converted into overconfidence. Toil hard each time. Don’t rest till you’ve exploited your potential to the fullest. Why? Because you are not mediocre and your limit is infinity.
Be mindful about the present. Increase your appetite for success, and you’ll be hungry for more.
The disempowering past
Thinking about the disempowering past hurts your mental status, which in turn affects your present performance efficiency in everything that you do. Maybe it wasn’t your fault. The other person did something wrong. You want him/her to apologize and acknowledge his/her wrongdoing.
But blaming often leaves you powerless. Nevertheless, let’s assume that you confront the other person. What if he/she doesn’t accept his/her wrongdoing? You’ll relive your hurt, anger and resentment every moment of your life? No denying that your feelings are important, but you have to weigh it against the time of your life you are losing giving attention to those emotions.
What’s done is done. You can’t go back in time and overturn it. Can you? So what can you do now?
Remember “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
First, make the decision to let the pain of the past go. How? Express your hurt and sorrow all at once, maybe to your friend(s), parent(s), or write it down in your personal diary/journal. Forgive yourself and/or the other person (as the case may be). Forgiving doesn’t mean you’re happy with what happened; you’re upset with what happened, but still you choose to let it go anyway.
Take personal responsibility of your life. It is you who is in charge of your emotions. Things might not have turned out the way you would’ve imagined or expected, but you are brave enough to accept it, learn from it, and move on for a better present and future.
Most important of all, focus on the present. Don’t lose out on the time where you can make a difference for yourself and others. It’s up to you to crowd your brain with hurt or happiness. You have the choice to make room for happiness in the present by discarding the hurt of the past.
You cannot start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the previous ones. Your past will follow you in your future. You can let it make your bitter. Or, you can let it make you better.