All of us are influenced by our past. Cherished childhood memories may affect our favorite foods or the holiday destinations we choose. However, many people’s past also contains painful episodes. Whether happy or unhappy, our past experiences shape our present and our future.
This is how past mistakes or regrets guide us to a better future. On the other hand, if you struggle to let go of painful memories, your past can trap you, leaving you unable to lead the life you deserve. Here is how you can start healing from the past.
Painful experiences, such as grief, loss, or even abuse are hard to forget. They influence our actions today. When you are struggling to let go of those memories and episodes, you are allowing them to create patterns of behavior. As a result, your painful memories become your present, affirming your worldview and causing you to repeat the same behaviors.
While we cannot change our past as such, we can change what we do in the present. The goal is to break the cycle of repeating detrimental behaviors by changing how you perceive the past. How is this possible? The concept is simple – we view our past through the lens of the present. As your lens changes, you discover new memories and start seeing older ones in a new light, allowing you to highlight red flags for the future.
How do you know if you’re living in and repeating your past? Many people who do are prone to self-sabotaging behaviors. It is easy to identify those behaviors by noticing how you feel later.
Here is an example: perhaps you would like to avoid experiencing a painful situation, such as being abandoned by friends. To keep your so-called friends and avoid the emotional pain of being left behind, you may act overly clingy, trying to control each of their interactions with your group of friends. The entire group might grow weary of that and start excluding you. You notice the rejection and try even harder. A toxic cycle forms, in which your behavior sabotages your friendships.
Our past experiences affect our choices and our mindset today. Pain and regret may not only stop you from living in the present, but they can also lead you to make poor choices or develop conditions like anxiety. For some, certain noises, songs, or places can function as triggers, forcing them to experience the pain all over again.
These triggers are common in anyone suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The pain caused by an episode of PTSD can cause sufferers to isolate themselves in an attempt to stop their suffering. It may also lead to other destructive behaviors that cause regret later.
Repairing the past means learning to live in the present and seeing your past in a new light. For most of us, this process requires time and consistent effort. Accepting the past is one step, and practicing mindfulness can help with that. Developing a reset strategy is as important as making time to disconnect from technology, friends, and family from time to time. Give yourself and your present the attention you deserve to continue healing from the past.
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