What if we stopped arguing with the past or trying to change the past? What if, instead of digging up regret for what could’ve been or for pointing a finger at those in our past who “did us wrong”, we dropped it? Dropped the story? Dropped the drama? Dropped the what if?
If you’re anything like me, a hysterical voice just came up in your head offering multiple reasons for why you can’t “just drop it” and move on. Come on Susie, don’t you know how wronged you were? If you forget about what happened, how will those people ever learn?
Screeetch – stop that voice. Let me be very clear. I am not encouraging anyone to forget about the past nor am I advocating re-kindling relationships. Forgetting about what happened to you or who did what when you were 12 would be irresponsible, if not even a bit irreverent.
I’m suggesting the exact opposite: drop the drama. Change how the past affects your present. Instead of holding yourself hostage to decisions you made when younger or allowing things that happened to you still hurt you today, you draw a line. Choose to think one of the following two thoughts:
“Everything has happened for a reason”
“Everything has happened exactly as it was supposed to.”
Let’s try it: Think of something specific from your past that creates drama in your present life. Usually we don’t have to think too hard and it will probably fall in one of two categories:
- Involving others: a parent, a romantic breakup or divorce, a situation at work, abuse,
- Involving yourself and decisions that you are ashamed of: your treatment of someone else, your treatment of yourself (an eating disorder), drug or alcohol abuse, a crime, sexual relations…
Now, before you get into all of the details of how you’ve been wronged (#1) or how much you suck (#2), pause. Accept that I believe you. You were wronged. Yes, you did make shitty decisions. But…that was how many years ago? Do you like having those incidents still affecting you 10, 20, even 30 years ago?! Are you still being wronged? (if so, that’s a different convo on boundaries within relationships).
We carry around things that happened to us like battle wounds. We use them as excuses as to why our lives are currently as they are. We point to them as excuses as to why we can’t change. Why do we do this? Because it serves us in some way. Holding onto the past allows us to stay stuck; to play small.
I stayed in an emotionally abusive relationship for years because that’s what I was used to and I didn’t know any better. When I began to awaken and see what was going on in my marriage, I also awoke to truths in my relationships with my parents. Was this easy? Hell no. Was it worth it? Absofrigginglutely! Why? Because, instead of feeling like a victim or thinking I didn’t deserve any differently, I could take my power back. As a child, we don’t have the choices we have as an adult. As an adult, I get to choose how I’m treated, how I view my past, and how I show up. I choose to believe that I had the exact parents I was meant to have to become the warrior woman I am today. How does thinking that thought feel? Magnificent! Much better than repeating some drama-filled story of what happened in my past. Nothing happened in my past that wasn’t supposed to happen. Everything lined up to lead me to the place where I am today. How do I know that’s true? Because it happened.
“When you argue with the past you lose. But only 100% of the time” Byron Katie
Consider this your wake up call: Where in your life are you holding yourself hostage for who you were or what happened to you when you were younger? How would it feel to stop beating yourself up for choices you made when you were younger? How would it feel to view past events as learning experiences?
Like everything in life, we are not meant to do this alone. Contact a trained coach or a trusted friend. Get out your notebook and answer the above questions. Changing how we think takes work. Staying the same also takes work. Might as well choose the work that makes you feel better, no?