Moving On From The Past
Moving on from the past isn’t easy and the past can have a huge influence over our present life if we allow it. Family squabbles, unresolved issues and regrets can linger long after the event. Looking into the past is natural but it does taint the present moment. We tend to focus on past events that still evoke negative emotions in us, mistakenly believing that running it over in our minds will somehow help us to heal. However, focusing on the past too much dilutes the power and energy of now. Instead of focusing our energy into the present moment and the immediate future, we keep our minds locked in the past.
You can’t change the past but you can update your beliefs
Moving on from the past is empowering. It frees us from old emotional ties that serve no purpose years later. I have heard many clients talk about their past experiences as if it was still happening to them. The same old emotions emerge, stronger than ever. There comes a time when you have to ask how it helps to wallow in the past, a phase of life that is done with and cannot be altered. The power is in the moment, you can choose to stay stuck in the past or you can choose to look at what happened in the past differently.
My demons from the past
When I was 15 years old, my stepfather and I were getting into the car on our way to school. I regularly felt ganged-up upon by my mother and stepfather. They were a team and I felt like an outsider. That morning had been difficult and my stepfather had been talking to me in a manner that upset me. I cannot remember what was said but I do remember ‘losing it’ in the car as we strapped ourselves in.
I suddenly became hysterical and began screaming at the top of my lungs. I felt I just couldn’t take the emotional abuse much longer. My stepfather was shocked and reacted by punching me in the face. With a bloody nose, I scrambled to get out whilst my stepfather yanked on my school jersey to keep me in the car. I managed to free myself and ran, screaming, back into our townhouse. I was petrified my stepfather would continue physically assaulting me.
When I reached my mother, she slapped me across the face and told me to calm down. My stepfather arrived soon after. I told my mother that he had hit me in the face, there was blood pouring down my face and onto my school uniform by this stage. Despite this, my mother believed my stepfather when he denied hitting me. My mother preferred to believe that I had had a nose bleed due to the screaming.
Family issues from the past
There was a huge imbalance of power and fairness in our house and moving on from the past took time. It was only ten years later in my mid twenties that my stepfather brought up the incident in conversation in front of my mother. He said to me “You know, that time I hit you in the car?” At first I acted dumb, as if I didn’t know what he was talking about. He continued, “That’s the only time in my life that I have ever lost control”. It was good to hear him say those words, especially in front of my mother but it felt a bit late. I never understood why he couldn’t just have admitted it there and then. He made a mistake, lost control and punched me. I was the underdog, nothing would have happened to him.
So, I felt I had been harmed in many ways by my parents after numerous events that left me feeling inadequate, a liability and unloved. I felt misunderstood and was labelled a bad child. I could have grown up blaming my parents for my weaknesses but I always knew this would give them power.
When I sat and thought about my stepfather and how cruel he could be, I felt unhappy. But was he unhappy too? I doubt it…he was off in the world doing his thing, probably not giving me a second thought. This is when I realised that allowing someone else, who isn’t even present, to affect you emotionally, essentially means you are giving that person power over you. You may view your past as unfair or unjust and that’s fair enough, but realise that you now have control over your own life.
It’s futile to keep blaming your past for your failings today. When you move on from the past and let go, you free yourself. Sure, my upbringing has probably set me back in some ways but it also placed a ‘fire in my belly’ to get out into the world and be independent.I choose what to believe and what to focus on now. The philosophical approach I have adopted has helped me to put the past in its place. The hard times taught me skills such as resilience, gratitude (for what I have now) and gave me an immeasurable inner strength. Don’t allow those that have hurt you in the past to still be a feature of your present. They don’t deserve any of your emotional and mental energy.
The past can stay there – in the past, it’s done
The past has shaped you but it does not have the power to determine the outcome of your life. Moving on from the past is a huge step towards taking responsibility for your own life. The best revenge is to succeed, find freedom and find a way to allow contentment and peace of mind into your life.
Photo by symphony of love