The fact is we all have a past and no one’s was perfect. Some things were painful and so it makes good sense that we remember them for learning and survival. This is how most of the animal kingdom works, we instinctively learn from experience. When we touch something hot and hurt ourselves we mentally log it and work to not do it again. In this way remembering our past can shape our future very positively. The reality though, is our past cannot perfectly predict our future and there are ways in which holding on to our past experiences can cause a limiting effect on us.
Here are 5 reasons to make peace with your past.
1. Making negative generalisations from one-off or very specific experiences can indicate you’re unnecessarily limiting potentially joyful experiences. Using grandiose words like ‘always’ and ‘never’ when talking about something can be a tell-tale sign you’re applying a too generalised rule to something. Look around and see if others are having a different, more positive experience of something that you have written off?
2. Just as our past can remind and inform our thoughts of something unpleasant our nervous system can also be reminded. In fact, our body can react the same to the thought of unpleasant stimulus as it can to actual stimulus. If something from your past is causing you to feel guilt, shame, regret or anger regularly you are putting unnecessary stress on your body and keeping it in a prolonged tense state which is not good for your health or mindset.
3. Research shows that past experiences can negatively impact our future in a variety of ways, however if you have come to understand these experiences and make sense of them you are much less likely to suffer from them, recreate them or re-experience them.
4. Holding on to unpeaceful elements of your past can be hard for those around you. We all come with a past but if you’re projecting too much negative behaviour onto a current partner, friend, boss or co-worker it can be very damaging to the friendship or relationship and it’s less likely to blossom into something supportive.
5. Many uncomfortable experiences in our past can be viewed in a more helpful way. The times we didn’t receive the love we’d hoped for from someone, or we experienced a trauma, loss or failure can be our greatest teachers. They can be the very thing that make us stronger, more understanding or allows us to decide what we don’t want to do, be like or be a part of. Our pain can also offer us the opportunity to learn about healing and this is an invaluable skill to have and help others with in life.