past (adj) gone by in time and no longer existing.
It a bittersweet reality, that each one of us have a past. Whether that be good, bad, traumatic, blessed, complicated, or otherwise, we each have one.
Some of us are ashamed of our past, some of us want to bury it, black it out, forget it ever happened — it’s simply too heavy to cary under the weight of our obligations, pressures, and stressors in our current reality.
On the other hand, some of us cling to our past, put it on a pedestal — it’s the unachievable, nostalgia we long to have back.
Somewhere down the line, we stop assessing our past by what happened to how it happened to us. As if we have no active role in the equation anymore.
The question turns from an introspective, “how do I define my past?”, into an external facing, “how does my past define me?”.
When do we let the things that happen to us start defining who we are rather than taking ownership and control of the perspective?
Want to know a secret? Lean in close…there are a few things you need to know.
Your past does not define you.
That regret, shame, disappointment, or pride that shadows your memories, is not who you are. Sure, you walked that road and experienced first hand the moments and circumstances more intimately than anyone else on this earth, but in this current moment — right now — you have a choice. You can hold on to the past or use the experiences as lessons for personal growth.
Hold on to it and you are stuck recalling negative memories, without learning from them.
Lean in to it and gain perspective that shapes your character and is reflected in the person you are becoming.
Your past does not need justification.
You are the only one that will have experienced your truth.
Your first hand account of what happened, or what you felt from your perspective, is yours — no justification necessary.
I find myself getting defensive over things that have hurt me or that I am invested in, emotionally or otherwise. I think this comes up a lot when we look back on our past and, more specifically, when we own our past.
Although the outside world can’t see it, the moments we have let define a spot in our lives carry weight and tremendous value in some way. Quite frankly, others may never understand the impact or meaning it had and could be quick to assess it without knowing the full picture or context, but that doesn’t mean we need to guard it with our lives and defend it through excuses, leveling, or justification.
Thinking you have to provide justification for your first-hand experiences is living in fear or letting your past define you, fear of judgement. In reality, the past you carry with you doesn’t need justification. If you feel like you need to justify it to others, you may have to take a good look at who you are surrounding yourself by. The people who you choose to share your life with should be the same people who accept you for who you are fully and completely, in the present moment, in what’s to come, and for everything that you’ve been through before now.
Your past is the past, treat it as such.
Don’t beat a dead horse. Truly. I think this cliché applies here, don’t you?
We can get so hung up on things that have happened to us. I know for me, I will be out and about, going on with my day and suddenly a memory from 5 years ago pops into my head. Suddenly, mu thoughts are consumed with “what if” questions and a detailed analysis of everything, looking for an alternate solution or something I could have done differently.
Hello, over-thinkers anonymous, I would personally like to introduce myself. — Hi, I’m Megan.
*collective response* : “Hi Megan.”
You don’t even need to be an over thinker to have this experience. So many of us carry the past into the present. We let it hold us back or tie us down to what we knew, rather than exploring and growing into who we are becoming.
The past serves a purpose, but at some point we must let that purpose be the past, go to where we are being called, and be where we are now.
It’s okay to let go. It’s okay to feel pain, anxiety, bittersweet, joy or happiness when letting go. Let the past be the past, be present in that decision.
Now be present in your life.