Ah…memories. Who doesn’t love a good stroll down memory lane every once in awhile? Whether you’re reminiscing about a dearly departed loved one or laughing about how lame you looked in your 7th grade yearbook photo, glancing back at the past can be blissfully nostalgic. However, in this series, we are going to be focusing on ways that you can make this year your best year ever. So, the first thing I want you to do is forget about the past. Yup. Make like The Godfather and Forgeddaboutit.
Some of you may be asking, “What’s wrong with thinking about the past?” Inherently, nothing. The past is amazing. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to recall my first (super awkward) date, my riotously fun college years or that amazing salad I had for lunch yesterday. Come to think about it, my beef isn’t actually with the past itself, but with the way the past is sometimes utilized.
When used inadequately, memories—both good and bad—have the ability to hold people back from being fully present in the current moment. From people whose primary topic of conversation consistently revolves around their heyday to those who are fully immobilized by their past traumas, the act of dwelling upon the past can place severe limits on what we think we can achieve in the future. This is why the first step in creating a better year ahead is to purge anything that no longer benefits you from your mental, emotional and spiritual space.
From the relationship that didn’t quite work out to that dirty little secret we’ll likely take to our grave, we all have something in our past that irks us just as much today as it did when it first happened. Unfortunately, past experiences can sometimes turn into more than just some harmless little memory. In fact, if not for being stuck reliving the victories or misfortunes of the past, many people wouldn’t live much at all.
On one end of the spectrum, someone may value the past so much that they become adverse to changes that threaten their treasured memories and status quo. They resist when people and circumstances change around them, causing them to not only miss the past, but the beauty of evolution and progress as well. On the other end of the spectrum, past failures or hurts may cast a formidable cloud of gloom and doom over someone’s life. They may become fearful of others or even the act of truly living, worrying that their past will inevitably repeat itself.
Even though the past can be a valuable aid in helping us to reflect upon our life experiences and learn from our mistakes, there comes a time when we must glean what we can from our former days, close the chapter and move forward in life. Besides, the only way to sufficiently make room in our lives for bigger, better and more exciting things is to toss aside the things we no longer need.
If you are someone who currently finds yourself dragging around a lot of dusty old baggage (and I don’t mean vintage Louis Vuitton!), one of the best gifts you can give yourself this year is the permission to let go of all that ails you.
Put down the mistakes that you’ve made.
Stop clinging onto bitterness and resentment.
If you’ve wronged someone, apologize.
If someone has wronged you, forgive them.
If you’ve fallen, get up.
If you’ve failed, try again.
And if you’re still holding on to those jeans from college and wondering how on Earth they’ve managed to get smaller and smaller by the year (Yikes!), please donate or sell them.
Remember: The current moment is the only moment that will ever truly matter. Yes, this one! And by the time you finish reading this article, that particular moment will be infinitely more important than the one you are living right now. Why? Well, it is actually quite simple. The current moment is the only moment you can still control.
Just as we can’t predict the future, we cannot change the past. No matter how much we talk about it, harp on it, cry over it or beat ourselves up about it, we will never be able to step back in time to undo anything that was done to us or by us. However, we can still use the current day to make amends, heal and grow. That is actually, the best part.
Letting go of failures, mistakes and miseries from last year (or years prior) will give you so much freedom. No longer will you fear that the best years of your life are already behind you. No longer will you allow past pain to keep you from sharing your heart or chasing your dreams. Holding on to the past can be emotionally, mentally and physically draining, so you’ll have far more energy to invest in things you can actually have an impact on.
For the record, I by no means want to seem as though I’m trivializing the potential difficulty you may face when giving up the past. The longer you have been dwelling on past events, the harder it may be to pivot away from that which you cannot change. It may take time and a whole lot of patience, but eventually, you will find that you no longer need or desire to use the past as a crutch. And when that day comes, I promise you that it will be so worth it—or your money back.
…You know, if genuine peace of mind wasn’t already free. 🙂