I’m going to continue with the personal/serious tone in today’s focus for my series, 14 Days of Learning to Love Your Life. In fact, what I am talking about today might be incredibly uncomfortable for many. That’s because today I want to help you learn to love your past.
The number one thing I want you to keep in mind is that you do NOT have to love the events of the past in order to love the lessons you learned and the positive ways it shaped you for today.
In his Relevant Magazine article, Moving on From a Mistake Doesn’t Have to be Hard, Eric Demeter says “Dwelling on past mistakes is much like squirming around in quicksand—it only pulls us deeper into the hole.” Demeter gives four awesome tips for moving on from a troubled past.
Everyone has a past. You may feel negative feelings about your past for various reasons. I shared with you a little about how certain experiences helped to form me into a mean kid. When I first began to realize this, I was angry. I mean, I felt deep resentment for those people that contributed, and I found ways that just about every person in my life played a part. But once I got past the anger, I had nothing else to do but move on. I can’t change my past, but I CAN change ME. I can do everything in my power to make certain that my girls don’t grow up the same way.
When I was in my mid-twenties, I knew a guy who had deep resentment for growing up poor. His wife hated that she grew up privileged. I’ve known girls who regret mistakes of their young-and-wild years. I’ve known people who had trouble getting past failed relationships. And I’ve known people who hate the career path they chose – including a person who had a well-paying job and was on a path to a bright future.
Everyone has a past. Each one of us and pick out the negative events and negative impacts of our past.
Dwelling on the negative events and negative impacts of your past does you no good whatsoever.
And then there are people who have no negative OR positive thoughts about their past. My husband is like that. He recognizes that there are things that happened that were unpleasant (and some that were completely awful, like losing his childhood best friend to a terrible drug addiction and eventual overdose), but he doesn’t dwell on it (nor does he really feel like it has had any silver lining).
What I hope for is that you will learn to look at how your past is responsible for some of the great things in your present.
Take a look at your list of things you are grateful for and think about how many of those are possible because of past events.
I am in awe every time I think about how the events of my past lined up perfectly to lead me to meeting my now husband. A large part of that was a very unhealthy relationship that I couldn’t get out of on my own. I could easily dwell on the painful memories. I could easily use that as an excuse for some of my more difficult traits. Instead, I choose to see clearly how those experiences made it possible for me to have the life I have today.
So begin a new page in your journal and write down 5 good things about your life today that are possible or a result of your past. Maybe you can attribute some of your best personality traits, like kindness, ingenuity, or drive, to how you were raised. Maybe your level-headed approach to personal finance is a result of past personal experiences. Or maybe you are a wonderful listener and giver-of-advice today as a result of a journey that only you understand.
Spend some time with this. I’m not asking you to open up any deep wounds – just to reflect on some of the great parts of you and your life and how your past has helped shape that.