“It is easy to be negative about past mistakes and unhappiness. But it is much more healing to look at ourselves and our past in the light of experience, acceptance, and growth. Our past is a series of lessons that advance us to higher levels of living and loving. The relationships we entered, stayed in, or ended taught us necessary lessons. Some of us have emerged from the most painful circumstances with strong insights about who we are and what we want. Our mistakes? Necessary. Our frustrations, failures, and sometimes stumbling attempts at growth and progress? Necessary too. Each step of the way, we learned. We went through exactly the experiences we need to, to become who we are today. Each step of the way, we progressed. Is our past a mistake? No. The only mistake we can make is mistaking that for the truth. Today, God, help me let go of negative thoughts I may be harboring about my past circumstances or relationships. I can accept, with gratitude, all that has brought me to today.” ~ Author unknown
It’s quite amazing how one can look at things from different points of perspective and see completely different things. Looking at our past is no different.
Those who have read my thoughts before already know that I am a strong supporter of wiping the board clean and starting things anew. There is little benefit in dwelling in the past, and feeding energy to events and people that are—or should be—ancient history; unless, of course, we need to clean house before we close the doors to their roles in our lives. At some point, it’s best to count our losses, and understand that as long as we live in the past, we willingly forfeit our present and future.
The past, however, is part of the blueprint we used to build the person we are today. Even if it is good to detach from the emotional charge attached to particular moments and significant individuals that have touched our lives in a negative way, it is also important to realize that we wouldn’t be who we are today if those events hadn’t happened, or those people hadn’t walked into our lives.
On a personal note, when I was kid I was the perfect image of the nerd minus the double-lens glasses. I was too skinny and geeky, and, like a puppy, my feet had grown ahead of the rest of my body. To make things even less attractive to a crowd of judgmental teenagers, I also loved to read and was extremely shy – the perfect recipe for an outcast. Being shunned hurt my feelings back then, but I can see now, many years later, how that superficial rejection helped me bring out the best I had.
Since I was never busy on social calls, I decided to throw myself into volunteer work. I helped everyone on my path, and felt good about it. When I was old enough, I signed up as a volunteer EMT, took a course, and started working after school. That was probably one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself; after seeing true suffering, my teenage problems suddenly seemed really minor. And, that first shot at community service set the tone for more volunteer work through the years, which helped me increase my level of compassion.
Another thing I threw myself into was writing. I loved poetry, and I spent my free time writing. One day, when I was sixteen, I met a lady who was president of a writing club. She read some of my poems, and helped me get them published; from that day on, most Saturday afternoons, I attended meetings at the literary club. The usual crowd was a lot older than me, but I felt totally at ease around them.
As hard as it was to deal with that type of social response as a teenager, the hardship of it is what pushed me to explore alternative interests and peeled the layers covering my true strengths. Rejection from my peer is what led me to the person I am today, and I sometimes wonder how different my life would be right now if I had been part of the popular crowd as a kid.
The past is past, and it shouldn’t be allowed to hurt us anymore, since it is only a ghost of things that have already run their time, but it should also be embraced with gratitude, as over time it has etched the unique individual we have become.