Sometimes, the past stands in the path of our greatness. We look at how much we have achieved in the past, compare them to the little or nothing we have in the present and we feel downcast. We wonder what could have brought us so low.
In our wondering, we begin to replay scenes from the past. We securitize every decision, every relationship and every compromise. Then we look at the friends we had and their inputs in our lives. The more we look, the more we see or appear to see.
The Blame Game
As the retrospection continues, we begin to apportion blames. It starts by simply ascribing decisions and influences and people and events. We remember who said what, the timing of unforeseeable events and the decisions we were forced to make.
Soon, we begin to make people take responsibility for actions. Sometimes, we blame ourselves. At other times we blame others for their advice, actions and behaviours. When we are done distributing blame, we then fall into the biggest trap of all: SELF-PITY
We wonder what the present would be like if certain people had not come into our lives. We wonder how much money we would have if we had not fallen for certain scams. We curse our bosses, colleagues and friends whose actions seemingly caused us everything. We remember all those who failed to support us when our fall from grace began.
In so doing, we begin to pity ourselves. Regardless of whether we blame ourselves or not, we have this general feeling that things would have been different if certain things had happened or not happened.
The more we indulge in self-pity, we more we bind ourselves to the past. We begin to see ourselves as victims of our bad decisions and other people’s actions. The pity piles on until we are buried underneath.
Sometimes, a ray of hope shines through. Perhaps it’s an encouraging word from a friend. Perhaps it’s a line we read from a book or saw in a movie or heard in a song. Sometimes, it’s our voices telling us to wake up.
But it is hard to wake up. Especially when the thoughts of the past are blissful compared to the challenges of the present and nightmares of the future. We want to remember when we had it all. We want to rest content in the thoughts of the good times we’ve had.
In times like that, we need to free ourselves. But how?
Is ‘Forgetting’ The Past A Good Idea?
Some people suggest that we forget the past. They argue that it’s all gone. After all, we can’t bring any of it back.
On the surface, it sounds like a good idea. But it isn’t. It is impractical. Why? Because our past makes up a huge percentage of whom we are. It reveals our behaviours, our influences and our motivation. Yes, our pasts define us. The memories we cling to define the kind of memories we want to create in the future.
Besides, we need the past to guide us. There are certain mistakes from the past that we can avoid. There are relationships we need to pull away from. There are habits we need to break. There are mindsets we need to change. How can we know about those if we simply forget the past?
We need the past! We need to be able to examine our past and spot similarities with our present. To avoid getting burnt by the fire twice, we need to remember where the fire was.
So forgetting the past is not a good idea. Besides, it won’t work. What will? Recreating the essence of the past.
Recreate The Essence Of The Past
To survive, to thrive, to give us hope, we must convince ourselves that we can enjoy the warmth of our best memories. We must believe that we can cultivate the kinds of relationships that made us happy in the past. That we can dominate our domains the way we did in the past.
This is not blind desperation to restore all that has happened. If you broke up with your partner, this is not advising you to go back to him or her. Rather, it is a gradual buildup of the best versions of yourself. It is a renewal process that starts by building on your strengths and experiences.
Let’s put this in practical terms. Imagine you were an A student who received a lot of financial support from your family members. Then tragedy struck. You lost your parents, you got pregnant, your grades flunked and extended family members have abandoned you. Sometimes you would look back and wonder which caused which. Did God punish you for premarital sex by killing your parents? Did your sexual activity distract you from your studies?
Now, instead of asking yourself questions that cause hurt, ask yourself two questions. First, what versions of the past can I recreate? What do I need to remove from my life? These answers will not come at once. Sometimes, it might seem as if you have no answer. At other times, you might have the wrong answers. But it is better than wallowing in self-pity. It puts you in charge of your future.
In essence, you get to choose what makes it from your past into your future.
A Practical Example
For instance, you were a very bright student. You could take up a part-time course or learn a trade. You know the benefit of a family so you could try to create one for others like yourself. You could apply for scholarship or sponsorship from your church, school or well-meaning individuals.
All of these suggestions are tough. You will have to endure ridicule. So many people will remind you of how ‘glorious’ your past was. Some would even blame you for everything. You will need to persevere. You’ll need to pick up your strong points and work from there. You’ll need to recreate the essence of your happiness.
In Conclusion: Do Not Give In
As you push and press along, you will find hope and strength. Sometimes you’ll find disappointment and reproach. It’s not fair but such is life. Regardless, never give in to the allure of wishing bad things never happened. They have happened. But you can create a better future for yourself.
These are my thoughts. Kindly share yours in the comment section below.